Making Butter: Fascinating Kitchen Science.

As previously mentioned, I wrapped up my oodles of homework and decided the best way to wind down was to make butter. Yeah, I know. Looking back, it’s clear there was something wrong with my logic, but .. hey I have butter.

There’s always been something really fascinating about the scientific origins of cooking to me. That you can turn something from liquid to solid to gas and back again is just utterly AMAZING to me. Milk is one of those ingredients that has those really groovy qualities, but for today’s purposes, I’ll be focusing on cream, specifically, and how this:

happens..  The image of Alta Dena Heavy Whipping Cream is courtesy of http://www.altadenadairy.com.  Hell, I guess the butter kind of is too. Thanks guys!

I started ambitiously with 2 pints of cream. I poured them into a large (it needs to be really big) bowl. The next step is to whipping cream until it turns into whipped cream. Then keep whipping it. It will deflate a little and start to downsize. At this point, it will give off a bit of water. When the liquid starts to separate, congrats! You’ve got butter and butter milk. The butter is edible at this point but kind of grainy and ugly. Drain off the butter milk and add about a 1/2 cup of ice cold water.. switch to a potato masher or some other hand held smashing device.. smash for a bit, then drain off the water… You’ll notice that  you pour off a lot more water than you actually put in.

You should do this a couple more times until the butter run-off is clear or not butter milk colored.

Voila!  You have a smidge of buttermilk and you have a lot of butter.

This is SO not cost effective,  unlike most of the stuff that I make from scratch, but I would seriously recommend everyone that uses butter do this at least once in their lives. It gives a new appreciation of the process and reminds us how shitty margarine is.

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About The Confluent Kitchen

I am food obsessed. I love trying new recipes, putzing in the kitchen, making my own cheese and other random kitchen tom-foolery. Follow my exploits.. the good, the bad, and the burnt.
This entry was posted in Bad Food That Tastes Great, Cooking, French Food, Putzing in the kitchen, Rambling, Ready Made Items From Scratch and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Making Butter: Fascinating Kitchen Science.

  1. cafesatsunset says:

    I have never actually made butter before. Does your homemade version taste virtually the same as what you’d find at whole foods or a grocery store? And is your version unsalted butter? That’s what I buy at the store – unsalted. Better for pastries and such.

    • It’s the same thing, a little lighter in flavor, but the consistency is exactly the same and it melts like it should.. I don’t ever use salted butter so I didn’t add any to this. I like to control the salt content of my dishes. I imagine with baking, that could be a real issue (salted butter).

  2. Madhu says:

    I remember helping my grandmother churn butter from buttermilk (soured milk, more like watered down yogurt) with a special wooden stick, oh so many years ago!! The buttermilk was always stored in a traditional porcelain pot that was half white and half light tan!!

    This image is the closest match I could find on google –

    The stick is the right shape but the bowl is more modern. It is still done the same way in our villages! I now buy my butter AND my yogurt from a supermarket unfortunately and in prepackaged cartons 😦

    Apologies for not sparing you a history lesson even on your site!

  3. Ben says:

    When I was in high school, I read an issue of National Lampoon with an inset spoof magazine called “The Amish Times.” There was an advice column, ask Yoder or something like that. One letter was supposedly from a young man who liked to wear a bonnet on occasion and wondered if that meant he was gay. The response: “Just because you wear a bonnet doesn’t mean you churn butter.”
    I don’t suppose that has much to do with anything, but there it is.

  4. Omg I love this post because it reminds me of elementary school “colonial days” where everyone dressed up and at one of the stations we learned how to make butter from cream. I just got hit by a wave of nostalgia. Thank you!

  5. I had no idea! I’m going to give this a try as soon as I get around to making the homemade ricotta cheese I saw in a recent edition of Bon Appetit. I love the idea of making stuff from scratch …and I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of margarine 🙂

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