How to Make Homemade Butter

I was a voracious reader as a child (still am, at that), and was always fascinated by the prairie housewives who made their own butter and bread and cheese. (And clothes and everything else. Seriously, Caroline Ingalls was amazing.) It’s been a running theme in my life to learn how to do things “from scratch.” You will never ever see a boxed cake mix in my home. I’m working on producing a perfect sandwich bread, and frequently make artisan loaves. I’m a bit of a snob, I guess. (I do hate making pie crusts though. Despise.)

A wave of Pins about homemade butter went around a few weeks ago, reminding me that I’d never yet tried this one. I calmly pick up a pound of butter every couple of weeks, no big deal. Well, that has now changed.

All you need for this food project is heavy cream (possibly labelled as whipping cream) and a bottle or jar. I used a Nutella jar because of the wide mouth. After the actual churning, you’ll need a bowl and probably a colander and a jar for storing the buttermilk.

Please learn from my mistake – do NOT do so much at one time. You’ll want to do this with a much smaller amount. I did this again later with about a third of this volume and it came together MUCH quicker.

Shake shake shake, baby. My preschooler could do it in the early stages. She wasn’t strong enough for the whole process, but this is a great project for older kids. Also a pretty good arm workout!

After a little while, you’ll have whipped cream! You actually can add sugar (and maybe a dollop of vanilla extract) in the beginning and use this method to make a quick batch of whipped cream without dragging out your beaters. This stage was quick and easy to reach, even with this too-large volume. I can’t give you a specific time on any of these stages because it will depend on the amount of cream and the size of your jar.

Keep on shaking. Feel the burn. Its starting to get grainy now.

This is the part where you’ll regret it if you put too much cream in the jar. It will take an insanely long time to get past the grainy stage and into the part where the liquids separate from the solids. I took to hitting it against the frame of my couch – the thickened cream inside just was too much for my puny arms.

But hang in there! Soon it will do this. You’ll be shaking/banging away and suddenly hear a “flop.” The solids have finally clumped together into a blob and will now hold their shape and be a lot easier to shake through the final stage.

Shake it for a few more minutes. The butter will become more and more yellow as the buttermilk separates. I am unsure if it is possible to “overchurn” your butter, so use your instincts. This here seemed to be a good place to stop.

This is why I chose a wide-mouth jar – I knew I’d have a big blob at the end, and the big opening made it much easier to get out. You do not have to keep the buttermilk, but you should because it’s a delicious ingredient. Set a colander over a bowl and drain baby drain. I happen to have a tiny colander (aww so cute) and a salsa bowl, but you can of course use whatever you have on hand.

Plop the butter into a bowl and press it with your fingers. You’ll see more liquids come to the surface. Press and rinse, press and rinse, until there are no more liquids coming out when you press. Shouldn’t take too long.

Save the buttermilk! I started with a partial container of cream (left over from something) so I don’t know how much I started with, but I ended up with a fistful of butter and half of a molasses jar of buttermilk. (That’s my clay crafting supplies in the background, fyi.)

You’ve now got a nice clean blob of butter. You could, if you wanted to, press it into a form and refrigerate it to use later as an ingredient. I always use unsalted butter, but you could salt it if you wanted. I’m not sure how that works or what amount you’d need.

This is your final product. A beautiful, pale-yellow blob of milkfats. It’s very satisfying to spread the soft fruits of your labor onto a slice of fresh baked bread. I’m not sure that I’d want to do this all the time, for all my butter needs, especially since I bake a lot. (Although maybe with a mixer?) But for a fancy event? Heck yes. I want to experiment with adding things like herbs or garlic to the cream for fancy flavored butter. It was really easy to reach a smooth creamy whipped cream stage, and I actually have used that trick already – cream and sugar and vanilla, shake shake shake, pour on top of strawberries.

What is is that’s so impressive about “made from scratch”? I don’t know, but I know that it’s very personally satisfying to be able to make a final product, something that we all take for granted like butter or bread, all by myself, from a few basic ingredients.

Have you ever tried to make butter?

(My husband will be having surgery today so I don’t know if I’ll be around. All comments this week are entries in my Giveaway, though! Please check out that entry if you’re interested. If you don’t want to enter the giveaway, you can still leave a comment – just make a note that you don’t wish to be entered. There is also another giveaway here, in case you’re interested.)