Homemade Butter

A little while ago, when I was gloating about my fantastic lipids profile, I promised you a recipe for homemade butter.  Butter has long been one of my favourite foods, and it’s a trait I come by honestly, as my mother would say.  My dear, perpetually fit and slender mother has a boundless love of the creamy yellow stuff.  We used to tease her mercilessly about the way she would slab huge amounts of butter on her crackers and bread.  Even though I loved butter myself, I was slightly horrified, having bought the standard nutritional advice about saturated fats hook line and sinker.   Oh how times have changed.  I’ve had to eat my words…which, quite frankly, I don’t really mind because as long as those words are covered in huge slabs of butter, they taste great.

As a low carber who has a completely new take on nutrition, I feel free to eat butter with abandon.  But I do worry some about all of the chemicals and hormones in standard storebought butter, as many toxins taken in by animals store primarily in the fatty tissues.  So I make an effort to use organic, and when I can get my hands on it, grass-fed butter.  Now that stuff tastes like heaven!

But the idea of making my own butter started when I received a cookbook I’d won on another blog, The Whole Family Cookbook.  It’s a cookbook devoted to whole foods for kids, and it employs a lot of fun ideas for kids to help out in the kitchen.  The cookbook ended up buried under a mountain of other books and magazines on my bedside table, but the idea of making butter stayed with me.  And when I finally made it out to a creamery that sells un-homogenized whole cream (pasteurized still, but none of the fillers that keep it from separating), I bought a half-gallon with the specific idea of making my own butter.

There are a number of ways you can beat your cream into butter that don’t involve having an old-fashioned butter churn (remember those things?  The sort of wooden barrel with a handle that you inevitably see in places like Colonial Williamsburg or Black Creek Pioneer Village!).  I know you could probably do it in a stand mixer or a food processor.  But I decided to have fun with it and do it the way the kids’ cookbook suggested, which was simply to pour some cream in a jar, put on the lid, and shake the heck out of it for 20 minutes or so.  Turned out to be great exercise for my arms, too!  I tried to get the kids involved, but they are a little young for being able to sustain that kind of constant shaking motion for very long.

I’ve now made my own butter several times and it’s absolutely heavenly.  Freshly churned butter has no equal.  I’ve learned a few things along the way, so here are a few quick tips to help you out:

  • Don’t fill the jar more than half full.  The cream needs room to whip and expand and take on air and it can’t do that if you fill the jar to the brim.
  • You will be able to tell when you’ve got whipped cream, because suddenly the cream is no longer sloshing around in the jar.  Keep shaking after that if you want butter.

Almost there! It’s now clotted cream. Keep shaking a bit longer.

  • You will be able to tell when the butter is starting to form, because the buttermilk comes out of the cream and starts sloshing around again.  Keep shaking for a bit longer to really bring the butter together and get out all the buttermilk.  Once you have one smooth lump of butter in the bottom, you’re done.

It’s smoother now. Looks good but keep shaking a little bit more.

  • If you like salted butter (I do), a little pinch of salt will be enough.  And don’t bother drinking the buttermilk if you salt the butter…it gets REALLY salty and tastes awful.

There you go. That’s butter at the bottom, surrounded by buttermilk.

  • Consider adding some fresh chopped herbs to the freshly churned butter…the butter is really soft when it’s first formed, and you can stir in anything you want very easily (I did one version with cilantro).  It will harden when you put it in the fridge.
  • The more cream you put in the jar, the longer it will take to become butter.

Homemade Butter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole cream (preferably non-homogenized, but if that's not available, just be sure it has no fillers like carageenan)
  • Pinch salt, if desired
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs to add at the end, if desired.

Instructions

  1. Pour cream into a clean jar with a tight lid (for 1/2 cup, use a half-pint jar, but for any more cream, use a larger jar)
  2. Add salt, if using.
  3. Seal the jar and shake the heck out of it until it stops sloshing (has become whipped cream).
  4. Keep shaking until it starts sloshing again (buttermilk has come out of the cream).
  5. Keep shaking a bit more until the butter is one smooth lump at the bottom.
  6. Pour off buttermilk.
  7. Add any herbs and stir.
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Comments

  1. This is a great intro to making homemade butter, but it doesn’t make much. I think you’ll get a lot of folks to try it. It looks like fun! But if you want more finished product, i.e. more butter, and easier, use a food processor with more cream. And if you make homemade creme fraiche with the cream first, you can make cultured butter, which is a step up on the dreamy scale, lol! Here’s a link to how to do it: http://lifeonthefoodchain.blogspot.com/2012/02/dairy-in-your-kitchen-cultured-butter.html?spref=bl

  2. That’s just so cool! I am totally going to try this!

  3. This is great, Carolyn! I was lazy and used my KitchenAid mixer to whip it, but I’m always so impressed to see that it can be done in a jar! YAY BUTTER LOVE!

  4. Lisa Hiatt says:

    Glad to see you can use a mixer or food processor. I think I’m definitely going ot give this a try this weekend! I LOVE butter!

  5. We did this in a jar a while back and found that the kids could just slide the jar across the table to one another. It works, it just takes longer.

    • Hey, that’s a good idea. Another idea from the book was to wrap the jar in a towel and put the whole thing in a big coffee can. Let the kids kick the can around in the yard for a while!

  6. I did this once when I was in grade school and I still think of how delicious that butter tasted. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make it again. Maybe I’ll make 2 big jars and shake them at the same time and tone both of my arms. :)

  7. great idea! I haven’t seen this for a while! Must share

  8. Paula Lynch says:

    If you intend to store homemade butter, it should be rinsed under cold water first or it will turn rancid in a few days.

  9. It’s your very own shake weight, LOL! Can’t wait to try this!

  10. Lisa Hiatt says:

    OK I just couldn’t stand it, I made the low carb “popovers” and NEEDED butter. I literally whipped up a little bit using a hand mixer. It worked!!! Thanks for the directions!!! It was SOOO YUMMY!!!!!!

  11. My kids are going to have so much fun with this!

  12. I never knew it was that easy!
    I will have to give this a try

  13. I make my own butter quite often, but I do use my stand mixer for the process. It takes just a few minutes. I also do the old-fashioned final step of washing the butter which helps it last much longer in the refrigerator. There’s an old post about it on my blog: http://www.lanascooking.com/2009/04/02/make-your-ownbutter/

    • Lisa Hiatt says:

      This was a great article. Thanks for showing the instructions! I didn’t know about washing the butter either. I only made a tiny bit to try it out, but I’ll remember this when I make a real batch.

  14. Too funny–I was just telling my son last night that we could make our own butter, and he got super-excited about the possibility! I did not know that once salted, the buttermilk is no good–I would’ve saved it to use in baking. I also didn’t know you had to rinse it for storage, so thanks for all the tips!

  15. I am soooo going to try this.

  16. Neat! And a good arm workout! LOL

  17. My son and I just made this–we had a great time. He is 8 and had fun making the butter. Our reward was our fresh butter on low carb toast. YUMMY!!

    I read the other comments about washing the butter…i did that, but really don’t think it will last long enough to spoil.

    Thanks for a fun, simple, tasty idea.

  18. Yes I love my butter! I ate at a place recently where they served amazing crusty bread and bright yellow butter alongside some smoked flaky sea salt. Sprinkling the salt onto the butter and then with the bread was so good it should have been illegal…I’m digging making my own butter!

  19. I never even thought to make my own butter, what a great idea! Thanks for all the tips.

  20. You made your own butter???? I’m high fiving you all the way from Indiana…I have been having a love affair with butter my whole life and need to make my own, too.

  21. I love that you shake it. I never would think it would work.

  22. I’m all about enjoying real good for you butter and homemade is the best kind!

  23. I love this. Honestly, never even thought of making my own but why not … Happy Friday :-)

  24. To speed up the process using a jar, throw in couple marbles. We had a jar and marbles we used exclusively for butter making. Now that kids are older, I just do it in the Kitchenaid. Also I pour the buttermilk off before I add salt. That way I can use the buttermilk too.

  25. Wow…I haven’t done this since my kids were young and we did a school project…that needs to change!

  26. Cool! I am so trying this!

  27. Surabaya Lisa says:

    As a teacher who makes butter in jars with her young students….I have found that putting a clean marble or two in the cream jar adds extra friction so the butter forms quickly. Also, when the marble no longer makes noise you know when you can stop shaking the jar! With really little kids we all sit on the floor and roll the jars to each other. Again, the marbles help with the friction, so it doesn’t take very long at all! Great recipe! Yippee for butter! :)

  28. Linda Parsons says:

    Lisa, this may sound like a stupid question but what is whole cream and where can you get it? I assume this isn’t heavy whipping cream is it? Do you have to go to a dairy to get it?

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