Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Butter. Homemade Butter

Homemade Butter with Homemade Buttermilk on the Side
I leave for California tomorrow for three weeks. I should be packing or something, but instead I'm coming up with ways to use up the heavy cream that will expire in my fridge while we're gone. This is actually item #2. I also made some Chocolate Almond Ice Cream the other day. One and a half quarts down, one and a half to go...
My first memories of making butter come from waaaaay back, the summer between kindergarten and first grade. Our family had moved a couple of miles from our first home in La Palma, California, to another house in the same city, in order to be in a better school district. My mom sent my brother and me to summer school in order to get us acclimated. I was painfully shy back then, and I also wasn't all that well socialized, I guess, because somehow I was chewing gum at summer school. When I realized that I probably should NOT be chewing gum, I decided in my 5 year old brain that I should take it out. The obvious next step would be to throw it in the trash, but that would require one of two options: either get up without permission or raise my hand and ask the teacher an off-topic question that might make her mad. Both choices would call unwanted attention to myself, so I chose a third, very unwise option: sit there with my chewed up gum in my hands. It was hot that day, and I have hot hands anyway. The gum got gooier and stickier the longer I sat there. By the time we got to the awesome activity of the day--making butter by shaking cream in little baby food jars--my hands were essentially stuck together. I was both mortified and angry with myself. I was missing out on making butter! Butter! From cream! 
As I sat there, on the brink of tears for what seemed like hours, I would glance down occasionally to see if maybe I could extricate myself from the mess I'd made. The teacher more than once tried to ask me what was wrong, and didn't I want to make butter, but I just shook my head and willed myself not to cry. I honestly don't remember how I ended up getting the gum off my hands. I kind of think that when it was time to clean up that I took the opportunity to go to the sink and get some paper towels to get the gum off. All I really know is that I didn't get to make butter that day, nor did I eat the yummy fresh butter on the cracker they put in front of me.
Sigh. So, here's to shyness and eventual maturity! Enjoy some homemade butter!

P.S. This is so easy that I have, on occasion, chosen to make my own butter for a recipe rather than drive to the store to buy it. Seriously.

Homemade Butter

  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
Pour cream into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The jar should be large enough so it's only about 2/3 full with the cream in there. (I really should have used a bigger jar than what you see below in picture #1.)
Screw the lid on tightly and shake. Up and down. Side to side. Whatever. Just shake. After about 8-10 minutes, it will not feel so liquidy and it will feel like the cream has filled the jar completely. You won't sense any movement. Then at about the 14 minute mark, it starts to feel more solid inside (See picture #2 below.) Keep shaking, and then about one minute later, the butter will solidify and separate from the buttermilk. Keep shaking until the butter is a definable mass in the jar separate from the buttermilk (See picture #3 below.)
At this point, open the jar and pour off all of the buttermilk you can. If you want to keep it for later use, put it in a container you can store it in inside the refrigerator; otherwise you can dump it.
Put the lid back on the container and shake some more to squeeze out more liquid from the butter. Pour off the buttermilk again. Keep doing this until you hardly get any more drops of buttermilk from the butter. 
Transfer butter to a bowl and stir/fold with a silicone/rubber spatula to release more liquid and drain that off. If you would like your butter salted, add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon to the fresh butter and stir it in. Taste it to see if it's salted to your liking.
Scoop the butter out and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes almost 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of buttermilk

Jar has some space for shaking.
That's a clean spaghetti sauce jar.
You can see how thick it gets as the butter is starting to form.
That's a solid hunk of butter in the middle
of the jar, and buttermilk around the edges.


  1. I had no idea making butter would be so easy! I'll have to try this!
    plus, it looks like a great arm workout at the same time! ;)

    1. Ha! I was just telling my husband that if I MADE all of my own butter that I use, I'd have great arms. :)

  2. Love the post, just read it (yes at work I'm such a slacker). I got sad for you! Glad you're not painfully shy anymore. Also - I never knew that butter making would be so easy! I may have to try this. Oh, and you still amaze me and are awesome. :) Safe travels and have a wonderful trip!

  3. Oh.. I did this when I was a kid! Great fun and a great way to learn where food comes from! I used to have to churn this stuff to help my great grandmother, too, a few years ago (yes, real churn lol). for those that don't have the physical ability to shake a jar that long, you can always use your mixer, blender or food processor. Make sure to get all the buttermilk rinsed out, or it will make your butter turn rancid.

  4. You are amazing..but, I already knew that. I just might have to try this..sounds like fun to do with kids or grandkids too.

  5. I remember making butter with my grandmother in of all places on a train. We were making a trip to Washington DC as she thought all her grandkids should see the capital. She drank coffee and they would serve her heavy cream in small glass creamer bottles. She taught me how to shake them to make butter. Probably to give her a few minutes of peace. LOL

    1. I LOVE this story! What a fun memory. Thank you for sharing it with me. :)


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