Friday, August 13, 2010


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!


Astrid said...

Now I totally want to make butter! (And wash it properly...)

Nonna said...

That is great ! I haven't made butter in years ( so easy just to buy it ) and you're right, everything is better with butter & it cheaper per pound to make butter ?

Jana said...

Astrid: Go for it! It is fun to do with kids.

NB: It depends on how much you pay for cream and butter! About half the cream turns to butter, and half to buttermilk.

Nonna said...

Thanks Jana...I like Land O'Lakes brand but it's pricey. I'll price it at Walmart for their store brand and compare heavy cream and make some. I think my grandkids would love to make some around Thanksgiving time too like we used to when I was a teacher !

Jenny Jo said...

Hey, I learned something! Wow, your butter is so yellow--when I've made butter in the past, it was much paler.

Jana said...

The yellow-osity of butter varies based on the diet and breed of the cow. The more high-quality the cream is, the yellower the butter. At least, that is how it used to be graded. In the past, in order to get a higher price for their butter, people used to use water that they had boiled carrots in to wash it.

When margarine came on the market, the dairy council or whoever was in charge of that sort of thing refused to let them add yellow food coloring to their product, because then people might think it was good-quality butter. However, white butter substitute is gross looking. So the margarine manufacturers packaged their stuff with a little yellow food dye packet that people had to mix with the margarine themselves. Clever things.

This concludes "Things No One Needs or Wants to Know About Butter." ;D

Nessa said...

My Mom remembers mixing the dye into the margarine. That would have been in the 1940s in California.

Jana said...

How neat!