Butter is important. And delicious. As you may have noticed from reading this blog, it showed up fairly frequently in historical recipes, before the Butter Police came to town.
There are lots of instructions on how to make butter on the internet, but only rarely do they tell how to properly wash the butter. Slackers! Butter takes a few weeks to spoil, but buttermilk only takes days. This is why after pouring off the buttermilk, you must rid the butter of all traces of it lest your butter be Spoiled Milk flavor.
To make butter, you must find some heavy cream, whipping cream, or heavy whipping cream. The differences between these creams is not worth knowing. Whip the cream as if you were making whipped cream (but without sugar and vanilla, please!) and just keep going until you have chunks of butter floating in buttermilk. You can use a KitchenAid with a whisk attachment, shake it in a jar, or buy a butter churn. Or, you can put it in your wagon and drive it cross-country all day. Whichever suits your fancy.
Butter is fat. Water does not mix with fat. Ergo, you must pour in cold water and squish the butter around. The buttermilk will leach from the butter and into the water, which you must then pour off and dispose of. Keep doing that until the water is clear, like this:
Yum. Buttery. When you pour off the last of the water, you can either leave it unsalted for cooking (which in my opinion would be a waste, considering all that work you just did!) or put in about 1 t. salt for every lb. of butter.
Oh yes, and here is a handy tip: When measuring butter when it is not conveniently in stick form, use displacement instead of trying to pack ice-cold butter into a measuring cup. For instance, if you need 1/2 C. butter, fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/2 C. cold water and add globs of butter until it reaches 1 C. Pour off the water and you are ready to go! Easy squeezy!