I have been hesitant to post my butter-making routine, as I know others have previously written wonderful tutorials on the subject. However, since I have received several inquiries on my “lazy” way of making butter, I thought I’d go ahead and share a few of the different techniques I have encountered over the years.
When we learned about the health benefits of butter, we were extremely motivated to make our own! We found a local source for raw milk, and it has been wonderful! I buy 2 gallons a week. This provides enough for our toddler to drink, as well as sufficient buttermilk and butter for the week. Calvin & I occasionally will have a glass of milk, and I usually make a batch of yogurt, too. (Somehow, I think God makes it stretch!)
We aren’t always very precise when it comes to skimming off the cream (hence the “lazy” method begins!); we don’t always get all the cream, and if we do, there might be “excess” milk included in our skimming. But, that’s ok! If there is cream left in the milk, we reap the health benefits of drinking it. If there is “too much” milk, it will take longer for the butter to form, but we end up with plenty of buttermilk. Nothing is wasted!
Since raw butter doesn’t have a long “shelf-life,” we only skim one gallon of milk at a time (although it does freeze well, if you would prefer that option!). From each gallon, we usually end up with 1/2 cup butter, and 2-4 cups of buttermilk (depending on how precise we were, and the seasonal abundance of cream in the gallon).
At home, I use my KitchenAid mixer, with the whisk attachment. I pour the cream into the bowl, and just leave the machine running while I attend to other tasks (lazy tidbit #2- I make the machine do the work!). I like to leave it on the “low” setting, since that is quieter. If I ran it on a higher setting, the process would go much faster. However, in our small living space, we all start going a bit batty listening to the sound of the “high” setting reverberating off the walls! On the lowest setting, especially if it contains quite a bit of milk, the process can take about an hour. (On the highest setting, it might be as quick as 15-20 minutes.)
First, it will whip the cream (it’s always tempting to just add some sugar and lick the beaters at this point, but resist!). Then, it will liquify before forming buttery “grains.” (If you have the mixer on a high setting, keep an eye out at this point; it can start sloshing everywhere!) If you have ever accidentally over-whipped some whipping cream, you will be familiar with this phenomenon. The butter will eventually clump together, usually with most of it sticking to the beater.
At this point, I pour off the buttermilk into a quart canning jar to store for later use. I return the butter to the mixer, a pour in some cold filtered water to rinse it, while the mixer is running. (I really don’t measure the amount.)
I dispose of the water, and leave the butter in the mixer. Once the water is poured out, I turn the mixer up to its highest setting for a rapid spin (a few seconds). Most of the remaining water will “spin” out, and I avoid the step of having to squeeze the butter. I pour out this water, and then sprinkle some ground sea salt onto the butter. (Not much- maybe a 1/4 tsp?) If you prefer unsalted butter, then you can skip the salt.
Once again, I turn the mixer up to its highest setting for a few seconds. This gives a nice whipped texture to the butter, which I love, while mixing in the salt. (If more water is extracted at this point, I pour that off as well.) The butter is complete! Look at that beautiful yellow color!
I like to keep the butter in the stoneware butter keeper (a delightful gift from my in-laws) or in a half-pint canning jar. Since we enjoy the flavor of this fresh butter on breads or for sauteing, I try to bake recipes that don’t call for butter (looking for ones instead that call for olive oil, applesauce, or coconut oil), since our budget doesn’t allow for purchasing additional butter. (But it’s worth it!)
This amusing method is courtesy of my dad, from when I was in jr. high. Upon discovering the success of utilizing his favorite “milkshake” mixer (an immersion blender), he enthusiastically shared the knowledge with everyone at church. He would rapidly mix up a jar of cream to make butter with his immersion blender. I don’t have one of these appliances, but if you do, I recommend giving it a try! This was our “lazy” way of avoiding the “hard work” of Method C.
Shake it or roll it in a jar. Yes, it does take some “muscle power,” but if you have a few willing hands (or feet) available, it’s not at all difficult. This is a great one for a quiet evening with a movie, or a family game night (or just turning off electrical appliances!). Make sure the jar is tightly lidded (this is essential, for obvious reasons!). If it seems to be leaking, try putting a piece of plastic wrap over the top, before putting on the lid. Then start shaking! (Or, put it on the floor, and roll it with your feet!) Pass the jar around, and before you know it, there will be a clump of butter floating on top. On our recent trip, we used this method, and it was a lot of fun!
With all these methods, the final steps are basically the same: pour (and save) the buttermilk, rinse the butter, and salt it. If the butter is in a jar, shake it well instead of the final “high setting” spin in the mixer.
For a special treat, here are a couple of my favorite butter recipes:
I enjoy taking this to dinner parties, along with a loaf of crusty bread. Be warned, though, it disappears quickly! Take plenty of bread; guests often ask for more, just so they can keep eating the butter! It is also delicious over poultry, fish, pasta, steamed veggies, potatoes, or rice.
1/2 cup Butter (soft)
1/2-1 Tbl. Minced Garlic (or 1/2-1 tsp Garlic Powder)
1 tsp dried herbs or 1 Tbl fresh minced herbs (parsley and chives are good)
1/4-1/2 Tbl Salt
A dash of paprika
Whip the butter in the mixer, while adding all the herbs and seasonings to taste. Mix until it is well-combined and a smooth texture.
This is wonderful over toasted homemade bread, slices of fresh Irish soda bread, or warm muffins or scones! This is especially nice at a brunch or a tea/luncheon.
1/2 cup Butter (soft)
1/4 cup Honey (or to taste)
1 tsp Cinnamon or 1 tsp Orange Zest
Whip butter in mixer, while pouring in honey. Add cinnamon or orange zest, if desired. Mix until smooth.
Calvin and I were discussing the “cost benefits” of buying raw milk, versus buying organic dairy products individually. Although, no matter the cost, we still believe that the health benefits of raw (non-pasteurized, non-homogenized) milk are worth the purchase. In our area, we currently pay $9.50 per gallon of raw milk (which includes the 50 cent surcharge per gallon for transportation to our drop point).
Here’s what I found at a local store (in trying to compare “apples to apples”):
Organic Valley Buttermilk – 1 Quart- $3.59 x 2= $7.18
KerryGold Butter – 8 oz – $3.99
Organic Valley Whole Milk – 1 gallon- $6.39 x 2= $12.78
Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Yogurt- 32 oz- $3.19
Compared to Local Raw Milk
(which we use to make butter, buttermilk, and yogurt, plus plenty to drink):
2 Gallons- $9.50 each x 2 = $19.00