How can I Make Homemade Butter?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 May 2020
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As recently as 80 years ago, people made their own butter most of the time. Even though most butter churns have been relegated to museums and kitchen corners as treasured heirlooms, it is still possible to make homemade butter. The process looks a little different, but the idea is the same.

First, set a gallon or so of water chilling in the freezer or refrigerator. This will be used to rinse the homemade butter later on. Heavy cream, or whipping cream, is usually sold in pints, and this will do well for a start. For the shaking method, pour the cream into a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The container should be about half-full. A couple of clean marbles can be placed into the container to help speed the process, but be careful if using a glass jar. The marbles can break the glass.

Now, start shaking. Vary the speed and direction, but keep at it. This project, incidentally, is great for children's groups. Each child gets a turn at shaking the jar, and by the time it gets around the room, it's usually nearly turned to homemade butter. Small yellow grains will appear first, and then a lump of butter will form in the jar. At that point, it's time to stop.

If making the homemade butter in a blender or food processor, or with a mixer, the process goes much more rapidly than the half hour or so it takes to shake it by hand. The mixer or processor can be set on medium speed, until the grains appear. Then the speed should be turned to low until the lump of butter forms. This takes five to 10 minutes.

After the butter forms, strain it through cheesecloth, to get the buttermilk out. Leaving the buttermilk in will make the butter go rancid quickly. This is where the cold water comes in. Hot water would melt the fat. Pour some over the butter, squeezing it in the cheesecloth. Continue rinsing and squeezing -- or pressing the butter against the side of a bowl with a wooden spoon -- until the water runs clear. What is left is homemade butter, just like you find in the grocery store. The homemade butter can then be used just as any other butter.

A pint of whipping cream will yield about one-half cup of butter, or about one stick. It isn't generally a very cost-effective way of getting butter these days, but making homemade butter does carry the satisfaction of having accomplished something good for oneself.


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