Tuesday

Homemade Butter

I'm blessed to have a source of whole raw milk. I put it in the refrigerator to set for two or three days then I skim the cream into a jar. Since I only buy a half gallon a week it takes a couple of weeks to get enough cream to make churning worthwhile.

Never fill a churning jar (a quart canning jar in my case) over half full of cream and you'll have a much easier time of churning. The cream needs room to slosh around. If the jar is too full, it won't "turn" at all.

I put the cream on the counter until it's at room temperature (or a little warmer in the winter), then I put the lid on it tight and get comfortable. I like both sweet cream and sour cream butter, so if the cream sets out a little longer, it's fine. Raw cream just sours; it doesn't rot like cooked (pasteurized) cream does.

Anyway, to churn, one must bounce the jar on the knees or leg or shake it or roll vigorously. I usually wind up trying all those options before it's over. If everything works perfectly, I'll have butter within 10 to 15 minutes. If it doesn't, it could take a half hour, so I do it when I want an excuse to sit for awhile.

I keep churning the cream until I see flecks of butter, then churn some more until the flecks gather together in one clump. It's time to stop at this point and pour off the buttermilk.

If I've churned sweet cream butter, the buttermilk will taste just like cream, except it won't have as many calories in it, so I indulge a little. I sometimes drink it as is, or put it over fruit or a pie. Both sweet and sour cream buttermilk can be used to bake or cook with, so I never throw it out. If I can't use it right away, it freezes very well.

Once I've drained the buttermilk it's time to wash the butter. I put in enough water to cover that's close to the same temperature as the butter and work it with a wooden spoon. (I wet the spoon thoroughly first to keep the butter from sticking to it.) I drain the water and repeat until it's almost clear, then set the jar at an angle or push the butter to one side. You may be able to contrive another way to allow the butter to drain on its own for a few minutes.

Then I take the butter out of the jar and put it into a bowl and add salt to taste.

Now, to bake some bread to use it on!

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