If you have access to raw cream or have your own cow, you have the ability to make butter. Home-made butter is wonderful stuff slathered on a nice hot slice of crusty toast or gleaming atop your steamed vegetables. Instead of the pallid and sallow-looking stuff from the supermarket, your butter will be deep yellow and taste the way butter should. It will also deliver many of the same health benefits you get from raw milk. Nor is it difficult to make, and being the lazy soul that I am, I’m going to share some techniques that make it even easier. Two words (well, three): food processor and muslin.
The food processor is the quickest way I’ve ever found to make butter, and I’ve tried just about everything but the old-fashioned wooden churn. Kudos to Ell for piloting this method; I’ve adapted a couple of her techniques. Muslin is used to get out the water after you wash the butter – be sure it’s muslin, not cheesecloth, as cheesecloth is too flimsy. The whole process is simple and takes about five minutes of hands-on time (no, that’s not a typo, I said five minutes).
Take a quart of cream out of the refrigerator. My food processor can handle about five cups, but a quart usually gives me one cup of butter and is less likely to seep over the center pole and make a mess. Let the cream sit on the counter for about an hour or two; make it an hour in warm weather if you don’t have the air conditioning on. At the end of that time, pour it into your food processor; you can use either the steel or the plastic blade. Cover and turn it on.
The cream will quickly become whipped cream and then start to turn to butter. Keep a close eye on it, as it doesn’t take long. This is the cream after one minute of processing.
I’ve had butter in about three minutes if all the conditions were right. You can see some of the finished product from a previous batch peeking around the corner at the upper right. This one took about four minutes.
Once the butter has “come” pour it into a strainer that has been lined with a piece of muslin about 16 inches square and set in a bowl or pitcher to catch the buttermilk.
Pour the contents of the food processor into the strainer and let it drip for a minute or so.
Now take the strainer out of the bowl/pitcher and set the bowl/pitcher aside. Put the strainer in the sink and run cold water over it for several minutes – a spray nozzle is ideal for this purpose. Shake the butter clumps a little so the water really washes it and keep washing until the water runs clear. Let it drip again for a few minutes.
Now gather up the muslin and twist the top so the ball of butter is forced against the muslin and the rinse water runs out. Keep twisting, gently, until the butter is as water-free as you can get it (this is why you can’t use cheesecloth – the cheesecloth will rip and butter will explode out of it).
The finished product. Look at that lovely yellow color!
Put the butter into a bowl and work all the water out by pressing with a wooden spoon. Dump the butter into whatever you plan to store it in. Use or freeze. I don’t salt butter. I usually freeze it as soon as I make it, and unsalted butter keeps better. Also, I prefer Celtic sea salt as a table salt, and those big crystals don’t dissolve well in butter, so I just add salt at the table.
There you have it, butter in five minutes of hands-on time.