This month has been all about minimising waste. Participating in the Give a Fork! campaign (read why here) means that I’m more conscious of my food waste than ever before. Not that I waste food purposely. But the food scraps. Like potato peels. Like.. leftover cream! In this case, I had frozen cream that I had thawed for something else but needed to use up the rest before it went off.
Part of reducing food wastage includes food packaging. Yes, I confess. I am a food packaging hoarder. Any container, plastic or glass. I’ll clean it out and keep it to be re-purposed for sauces, pickles, grains, anything!
I digress, this post is all about butter.
Good butter on toast is one of life’s most delicious, simplest treats. The bits of butter that don’t completely melt and soak into the toast. I live for those moments. I love cooking with butter. Frothy, bubbly melted butter to fry onions is one of the best smells in the entire world. And where would we be without butter for making baking cakes and pastries!
I’m definitely one of those pro-butter types. The anti-margarine type. Give me real butter, using real cream, any day.
Butter is something that has always in theory looked fun to make. I made a few mistakes and it definitely was a clumsy first attempt but I managed to pull it all together! I made a mess, grieved over some lost precious butter, had a mini arm workout. But it was worth it to make something from scratch, short of milking a cow myself.
Butter forms when the fat molecules in cream start forming a solid mass together from agitation rather than liquid suspension. BAM! Making butter is a secret science experiment!
Just one ingredient and that one re-purposed tomato paste jar is all you need!
Makes: approx. 100g (if you don’t lose half of it down the sink!)
- 300 mL fresh cream (use full-fat, after all, butter is the fat from milk!)
- Pour cream into a jar. Use a jar that holds a larger volume than the cream you’re using so that the cream/butter has space to move.
- Shake! For at least 10-15 minutes. Continue until you start to feel some weight shaking around, rather than just liquid sloshing as the butter starts to separate from the buttermilk. Yes, you can pause if your arm gets tired, the butter will still form. I don’t think you can over-shake but feel free to comment if that’s true!
- Pour out any liquid; this is buttermilk which can be reserved for things like pancakes! Or scones! I didn’t end up with any liquid. I think I had just stopped short of it separating. Don’t despair, you’ll need to wash out the buttermilk anyway. It’ll just go to waste. Boooooo.
- In a bowl of cold water, scoop that butter into your hand and try to lump it all together. Work quickly as your hand will transfer heat, which breaks down those fat molecule clumps that you’ve just formed. Throw in some ice cubes to make the water super cold and help the butter stay solid. The Internet says there are other ways of doing this step, i.e. rinsing it under a running tap. It may work if your butter is more solid than the slosh I was working with.
- Tip off the buttermilky-water and repeat with fresh water until the water is clear. Any buttermilk remaining in the butter will spoil the butter, so the clearer the better! Eventually the butter will form a solid lump.
- Scoop out the butter into a plate. You may start to see some water seeping out. Tip it off very carefully. (I feel like I’m pouring off supernatant in the lab!) If you’re not careful, like me, you’ll lose some of your precious samples! Noooooo. If you need to, repeat wash one or two more times to be sure the butter is pure!
- Put your butter in a dish. Chill in the fridge, if you’re not eating straight away. It solidifies very quickly once chilled, so take it out a few minutes before using. It’s super soft and spreadable!
Add sea salt flakes after washing if you want salted butter. Or even add finely chopped herbs of your choice for herb butter!
This can be a pretty messy thing so I worked over the sink. Some people use a bit of cheesecloth and a rubber band over the jar to pour out the buttermilk. Some people use the cheesecloth to help rinse the butter in the washing stages. Some also use the cheesecloth to squeeze out the extra buttermilk at the end. Look, maybe I’m saying get a hold of cheesecloth if you don’t want to make a mess.
Use cream after it’s been sitting out of the fridge for a little while. Room temperature cream will form butter much quicker than cold cream straight from the refrigerator because the warmer temp makes the fat molecules move faster, thus, able to form a solid mass of fat (aka butter) faster.
You can most definitely do this with the modern invention of an electric whisk (Have you ever over-whipped cream?? That’s basically the beginnings of butter.) The jar is a lot of a fun and a good arm workout too!
For extra special butter, I though it appropriate to use this butter for something special. Keep an eye out, I’ll feature what I made soon! In the meantime, let me know what you love using butter for or any tips or questions about making your own butter!