I love it when I figure out how to make something that seemed so out of reach, particularly if that something can be made from scratch with good ingredients and no additives. I like being in control. I have three of those kind of discoveries that I would like to share with you in the next few blogs. Let’s start with butter.
It has happened to all of us. You start beating heavy cream in a mixer to make whipped cream and the phone rings or you get distracted by something else in the kitchen and you walk away. When you come back you’re horrified to see that the cream is starting to look a tad curdled. In effect, it is at the very beginning of the process of turning into butter. (Actually, you can “bring back,” whipped cream when it just starts to look curdled and make it seem silky again if you add just a little more liquid heavy cream.)
So, one day I got distracted and let the whipping process go too far and I thought, what the heck, let’s see what happens if I just keep beating the cream. About 10 minutes later I was rewarded (see the picture to the left) with what appeared to be butter stuck in the whisk and a watery looking liquid surrounding it in the bowl. I drained off the liquid (which is the original buttermilk, but that is another story), squeezed out the butter and put it in a ramekin to serve with bread at dinner. It was absolutely delicious and so fresh tasting, unlike most supermarket butters. It was even better sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt.
However, a few days later it smelled decidedly funky. I have since learned that I needed to “rinse out” the butter. After it separated into butter and buttermilk, I should have drained off the buttermilk, added fresh water to the mixer and let the mixer run on low until the water became milky and then discarded the water. I should have repeated this process several times until the water was no longer milky and then squeezed out the butter gently in a towel to get rid of excess water.
I hope you try to make your own butter. It is best to start with really good cream, like the kind you get right from the farmer’s market. If you can’t find or can’t afford the really good stuff (it does cost more), try to buy the pasteurized, not the ultra pasteurized cream at the supermarket. It will taste better. After you make your butter you can spread it on bread, cook with it or add flavorings to it such as garlic, mustard or chopped fresh herbs. If you are not going to use it all right away, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze it. You will be so happy with your homemade butter, I promise you.