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No, I don’t have a boyfriend…but I CAN make my own butter!

August 23, 2009

OK, ok, that’s not exactly how the conversation went. But when I announced to Lauren and an in-from-out-of-town Kelli on Saturday “Dude! I made my own butter yesterday!” all I got were blank stares, followed immediately by the question “So…how’s eHarmony going?” Right. Thanks, Lauren.

Boyfriends (or lack thereof) aside, on Friday I had a little time to kill, and I had 1/2 cup of heavy cream left over from a dish I’d made previously, so I was trying to think of something delicious to prepare. And then it hit me! BUTTER!

Mmmm butter.

Mmmm butter.

It’s creamy, delicious, useful, and delicate. Perfect!

The first time I ever made butter was with my mom – we had a tiny little crockery churn (small enough for kiddie hands), and I have nice memories of my brother and I, eating the butter. What I don’t have is a memory of the steps taken between the churning itself and the output of butter. I was under the impression you just churned, fished the chunks out, and presto! you had butter. Turns  out…this is false.

But. The process itself is aaaaaalmost as easy as that. Almost. I started, as I always do, by googling various methods of producing butter. I found a few good sites, and used this one as a guide. The bottom line I got was that you need cream, a container of some kind (tupperware, mason jar, whatever), and about fifteen minutes, plus draining time and working time for the salt.

I made the butter in a tupperware container and have subsequently eaten it, so I decided to make a second batch for the blog! I started with a mason jar, simply because it made prettier picture, a little container of heavy cream, and set to work.

Tools.

Tools.

Basically, you fill your container, leaving at least half of the container empty.

Creamy goodness.

Creamy goodness.

Then you shake the container (ensuring it’s sealed well!). I check it periodically, just to see what’s going on in there. In case you don’t know the principle behind it, butter is generated when the fat solids in cream are fused together. The liquid left is the milk part, which will go bad. The fat solids can be kept at room temperature without rotting (particularly in one of these, which I intend to purchase on Amazon for cheap).

This is what the cream looks like just before the fat solids clump together and separate from the liquid:

Cream

Cream

At this point in the shaking, about 10 minutes in, you need to start paying attention. After a few more minutes of shaking, you’ll hear the liquid change tone – instead of the muffled silence of the thickened cream (it will sound like there’s nothing happening, but there is) you’ll all of a sudden hear a sloshing noise. This is what that looks like:

Handheld milkfat.

Handheld milkfat.

Kinda resembles ice cream, eh?

Kinda resembles ice cream, eh?

On the kitchen counter.

On the kitchen counter.

Next is to drain the buttermilk from the jar. I used a cheesecloth (per the Omnomicon website’s instructions).

Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth

The next step I changed a bit – the instructions say to use the cold side of the tap, but after my attempt on Friday I found the butter too mushy after using the tap water. Instead, I filled a pitcher with ice and water, kept it in the fridge while I churned, and used that to rinse the butter.

Waterbath.

Waterbath.

I basically followed the rest of their instructions, rinsed it til the water ran clear, then put it on my new cutting board to drain. I worked it with a spatula til there wasn’t any liquid left, then put a pinch of salt on top and stirred it up really well.

Pre-working.

Pre-working.

You can see the liquid on the board, weeping out of the butter.

You can see the liquid on the board, weeping out of the butter.

And then? Butter! Shown here on some absolutely delicious basil bread my roommate baked yesterday (see? I’m not the only one!)

Bread and butter!

Bread and butter!

What was I doing while Emily was baking bread, you ask? Why, visiting the Old Town Alexandria farmer’s market, of course! I got up at 6:30 AM to meet my friend Kristin and her beautiful daughter Sydney for a romp through the stalls. It was slightly grey and rainy, which meant that there was nowhere near the normal crowd (awesome!). I took some shots below:

Stall

Stall

Here, the owner of this stall is explaining how they grow their shiitake mushrooms (on a log!!).

Peppers!

Peppers!

Peppers are plentiful at the farmer’s markets these days.

As are HERBS! (Pronounced the British way, aspirating the H)

Herbs

Herbs

I bought myself a bunch of radishes, from which I’ve already made a quick radish and butter sandwich (DELICIOUS if you’ve never had it – seriously) and a box of baby zucchinis. It’s a pretty cool market, though heavy on the produce (we have plenty of produce from our subscription at Washington’s Green Grocer, so that was a bit overkill for me). All in all, a successful foodie weekend! And now…back to the grind. Have a great week everyone!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. emily permalink
    August 23, 2009 9:15 pm

    YUUUMMMYYY!!!!! Wish I had a taste!

  2. December 29, 2009 2:55 am

    Ha, love the title. Really though, who needs a boyfriend when you have homemade butter?

    • lisam permalink
      January 8, 2010 12:18 pm

      Hey there Anne! Thanks for the compliment! And totally – glad to see a fellow cook with the same mentality. I love your blog – for everyone else, it’s a new one at http://heatknivesandchemicals.wordpress.com/ that you guys should check out. Looks to be a promising one! Keep up the good work, and you’re on my Google Reader roll now.

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