Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Homemade Butter from Raw Cream

I have been making homemade butter from raw cream for more than a year now.  And I've actually had this post sitting in my drafts for that long.  I'm not sure why I never posted it... I think I just forgot about it.  I thought I had posted it, actually.  I didn't realize I hadn't until recently when a friend asked about making homemade butter.  I went to direct them to my blog post... and couldn't find it anywhere.  So... here is my post on how to make homemade butter... finally! 

Making Homemade Butter from Raw Cream

Begin by skimming the cream from the tops of your jars of real, grassfed milk.  I use half-gallon mason jars to store my milk and purchased a small stainless steel gravy ladle to skim the cream.  The fresher your cream, the sweeter your butter will be.  But it is not harmful at all to use cultured (or soured) cream… your end result will just be cultured butter, which is filled with healthy probiotics and has sort of a sweet and sour taste to it.  

I make both cultured butter and sweet cream butter.  I like them both quite a lot.  Kevin prefers the sweet cream butter and I do like the fact that I can also always use the buttermilk from the sweet cream butter for baking or in smoothies (or for soaking grains when I used to make things with whole grains).  You can use the buttermilk from the cultured butter at times, but if it smells stinky at all, you need to throw it away.  This is quite a common occurrence when making cultured cream/butter in the warmer months, especially, since the cultured cream can get quite ripe.  So I do tend to make sweet cream butter most often.

I tend to make butter every other weekend since I get my milk on Fridays... although I do skip it at times and only make it once a month if I've found too many other uses for the cream.  It all works out, though, because I always have a decent stash of homemade butter in the freezer.  I’ll skim the cream from each jar of milk during the first week and place it into another half-gallon jar.  Then when I get my milk in the second week, I skim the cream and add it to the half-gallon jar I have reserved last week’s cream in.  I usually end up with 2 to 2 1/2 quarts of raw cream if I don't use the cream for other things during the weeks.  Each quart of cream will yield about a pound of butter. 

When you are ready to make your butter, you will want to use chilled cream.  Pour the cream into your stand mixer bowl with a wire whisk attachment on your mixer.  Turn your mixer to a medium to medium-high speed and just let the mixer do the work. 

Go unload your dishwasher, call your grandma, throw a load in the washing machine… while your mixer does all the work for you.  Your butter should be done in about 10 minutes or so.  (You can also use a food processor to make butter, but you don’t want to use anything that will warm the cream as it churns (some blenders will do this).)  

I want to also note that you should not try to make too much butter at once.  The cream will expand and turn into whipped cream through the process of making butter, so you want to make sure you have plenty of room in your mixer bowl for this to occur.  Once the butter and buttermilk start separating, it can also get kind of messy if you have too much (and sometimes even if you have too little) in the bowl as the butter splashes around in the buttermilk.  (Note:  I normally make much larger batches of butter than are pictured here... on this particular week when I took pictures, I had used most of my cream for the two-week period in coffee and other items... so I didn't have much cream to make butter with.)   

Once your butter has formed and the solids have separated from the buttermilk, pour everything through a strainer.  The liquid milky stuff is buttermilk.  It won’t look like the buttermilk you buy in the store – it won’t be thick – but you can use it as you would buttermilk… in baking, in smoothies, for soaking grains, etc.  I often will freeze mine if I don’t have a use for it that week.  

Transfer your butter to a clean bowl.  Now it’s time to wash your butter.  Sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?  Well, you need to wash it to make sure you extract all of the buttermilk.  This will make your butter last much longer. 

To wash the butter, you will need to add cold water to the butter.  Don’t add too much so your not splashing all over the place, but add enough to wash.  Use a wooden spoon to press and fold the butter.  This will extract the buttermilk.  Pour the water off (don’t save this stuff).  And add more cold water to repeat the pressing and folding.  You will need to repeat this step until your water remains totally clear.  At that point, you’ve removed all of the buttermilk from the butter.  Remember – the cleaner the butter, the longer it will last.  

Pour off the clear water.  Press and fold your butter a few more times to extract any remaining water.  Pour that off.  Now you can mix in salt, if you want.  I don’t, as I find it more convenient to add salt when I use the butter.  

If you have a butter mold, transfer your butter to the mold.  I don’t have a mold, so I just plop the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper or natural wax paper and shape it into a rectangular cube.  I usually use natural wax paper now... even though that is not what is pictured here... but these pictures were taken more than a year ago.  Then I fold up the sides to seal it and place it in the refrigerator or freezer.  I freeze most of the butter I make fresh for later use, but if I know I’ll be baking or needing a lot of butter during the week, I’ll keep the fresh stuff in the fridge.  It will keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Nothing beats homemade, fresh butter.  And it’s honestly a very simple, very low-effort, economical thing to make!  People always laugh at me when I tell them I make my own butter because they think it’s going to be some super labor intensive task (think back to the butter churn days).  They are always surprised to hear how effortless it really is with the use of modern technology (a.k.a. my stand mixer).  So, if you don’t already make your own butter – I challenge you to try it some time.  I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it really is!  

** NOTE:  If you do not have access to real milk, you can follow this same process using the cream you skim from non-homogenized, pasteurized milk, or from a carton of good, quality heavy cream.  

This post is linked to: 
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Traditional Tuesdays @ Delicious Obsessions
Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop


Mary Voogt said...

Thanks for posting this! I can't wait to make butter when we get our raw milk. I knew you could make it in a mixer pretty easily, but I didn't know about the washing step. My concern was that I wouldn't have enough cream. It seems like there are so many uses for it. Plus I like to keep plenty in the milk (especially for the little ones).

Have you ever made sour cream? Do you buy a starter? Or just use some yogurt or kefir? I think sour cream will be the first on my list of things to make. Then I want to FINALLY try making yogurt.

Sara said...

I leave a good amount of cream in the milk, too. I usually skim about 2/3 of it and leave 1/3 of it in the milk. I bet you'll have plenty of cream. I use mine a lot, too. I should clarify this post.... I don't use 2 or 2 1/2 qts of cream to make butter every time... that's just about how much I skim off the milk every 2 weeks. I usually end up with about a quart of cream for butter, but sometimes its as low as a pint probably. Sometimes even less (like in the pictures).

Yep, I have made sour cream several times and a few different ways. It is one of my posts I'd like to catch up on.

France@beyondthepeel said...

Great post Sarah. I'm still trying to get my hands on raw milk. A pesky little process. I look forward trying this out!

lilsuburbanhomestead said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I have not found a source of raw milk near me yet but I'm still looking!

Jill @RealFoodForager.com said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!


If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.


Sara said...

Don't forget, if you don't have access to raw milk, you can make butter from nonhomogenized milk, too! Let me know how it goes if you try it.

Robin said...

Thanks so much for this helpful post! We just started getting a raw milk share. I have a little experience with raw milk from when I volunteered at a living history museum as a teen...but that was half my life ago!

How long do you let the milk separate? And what consistency is the cream when you do separate it? I'm used to my breastmilk, which separates into thicker and thicker cream if we leave it in the fridge for several days. And obviously, there's no carageenan in raw milk making it thick.


Emjay said...

Hi Robin - raw milk separates like breast milk :D I found if I left the milk alone for a couple of days, I'd get a thicker cream at the top. I'm currently collecting our milk in wide top containers and can gently skim off about 2/3 of the cream before the milk underneath starts to stir up.

Sara said...

Sorry, Robin! I must have missed the email notifying me of your comment bak in August. Thanks for the answer, Emjay!

The longer you leave the milk, the thicker the cream will be that rises to the top. It is usually pretty thick by the second day. Have you tried making butter yet? I'd love to hear how it went!


Mara said...

Hi Sara, I just made butter using your blog as a guide. It went swimmingly, so thanks! I'll be posting about it on my own blog later, please stop by sometime!

Linda said...

We've come a long way baby since my churning days! We had a dairy when I was a kid and every Saturday was churning day. Mama skimmed cream from our 1 designated Jersey milk cow everyday and we'd have a huge amount of cream to churn, which was my job. Sometimes after churning about 30 mins. it wouldn't turn into butter, mama would say "It's too hot" and would add a couple of ice cubes and bingo, we'd have butter. Then she would dip it out, save the buttermilk (which dad drank with a teaspoon of sugar and cornbread broken up in it - YUCK!) She'd add icewater to the butter, sometimes with cubes and proceed to wash it. If you don't wash all the buttermilk out it goes rancid and tastes terrible! Now, all that said, my son lives on a ranch and they have a milk cow for a summer camp they run and he wants me to teach he and his children how to make butter. I haven't forgotten and having a churn would really be nice, but since we don't have one, could I use a regular hand mixer to do the job? We don't have the nice mixer you have.

mommar6 said...

I just made my first butter. Thank you for such a thorough post. It was fun and easy to make. And it tastes great!