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Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Homemade Butter

Since we made the switch to raw milk, I have also started making homemade butter from the lovely cream that rises to the top of our fresh milk. I admit, I was a bit nervous about making homemade butter - it seemed like it would be a lot of work. But, I figured that it was sort of silly to be drinking raw milk and still be buying pasteurized butter from the grocery store, so I decided to go for it. The first time I made it, I used my stick blender and it worked quite nicely. I only used a pint of cream the first time. It made a nice little ball of very tasty butter. The second time I made it, I also used the stick blender but it seemed that the stick blender wasn't too happy about being used for so long and it got a bit hot. I decided that I needed to find a new method of making my butter for next time. I remember reading someplace that you can use an ice cream maker but the ice cream make is a bit of a pain to drag out and set up. I also read you can use a stand mixer. So that is what I did. It came out perfectly! The big bonus is that I didn't have to stand there the entire time, holding a stick blender! After making butter the first time, I realized that while it does take a wee bit of time - maybe 20 to 30 minutes - it really isn't all that hard to do. Plus, it is so worth it because the butter tastes amazing. And now that I know I can use my KitchenAid mixer, it got even easier.

How to Make Homemade Butter from Raw Milk

1. Collect the cream. I try to skim about half the cream off my jars of milk the morning after we bring them home.The farm fills my half gallon mason jars from their large tank so it's mixed up when we first bring it home. Leaving it sit overnight gives it plenty of time to separate. I get about a quart of cream from 3 gallons of milk.  (*Note: Many states don't allow the sales of raw milk but that doesn't mean you can't easily make butter. Just use a carton of heavy cream from the grocery store.)

 You can easily see the cream floating atop the milk.

2. Clabber the cream. Clabber? Yeah, I had no idea what this meant the first time I read it. It means to let it sour. To do this, I let my jar of cream sit out on the counter for a good 24 hours. Some places suggest more time, but I will admit it, the very idea makes me nervous. In fact, my first batch of butter was made from fresh, sweet, unclabbered cream. After sitting out for 24 hours (give or take a few hours), I put it in the fridge for a day or two. When I take it out, it is nice and thick and smells a bit sour. At this point, you can use it as sour cream. I haven't done that yet. 

 My clabbering cream.

3. Beat that clabbered cream! I put the cream into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer with the flat beater attachment and slowly bring it up to about half speed - 5 or even 6. The cream goes through several stages which are neat to watch. To really get an idea of what each stage looks like, click the picture. Then hit the back button to come back here.

I start mine as soured cream, so it's already thick and creamy. If you start with fresh cream, the first change will be to this sour cream consistency.

 Next, it will get a bit thicker. This stage reminds me a little of that non-dairy dessert topping - a thin but smooth textured whipped cream.

A bit thicker still - this is a soft peak stage.

Now it's nice and fluffy! Stiff peaks will form. You need to start scraping down the bowl a little at this point.

A couple minutes more and it starts to break down and look a little lumpy.

Then it gets really wet looking and grainy.

Then, almost suddenly, bam! Butter & buttermilk appear! You will want to turn the mixer down at this point (maybe a little before) or you and everything around the mixer will get a buttermilk shower.

After it separates, I let it go a little longer to allow the butter grains to come together into larger lumps.

I remove the large lumps of butter to a bowl and  pour the buttermilk into a jar (through a small strainer to catch any butter grains that didn't stick to the larger ball).

And I am left with a nice lump of fresh butter. But it's not quite done.
4. Wash that butter! Yep, wash it. It still has quite a bit of buttermilk in it and that needs to come out before you are finished because the buttermilk might cause the butter to spoil quicker. I take a couple of rubber spatulas and squeeze smaller amounts of butter between them, rinsing in cold running water or a bowl of ice water as I go. I could go out and buy some nice wooden butter paddles, but they're kind of expensive and my spatulas work just fine. I didn't take any pictures of this step because my hands get kind of buttery and I didn't want to butter up my camera.

Once all the butter is clear of buttermilk, I salt it (just a wee bit) and form it into a round cake and put it into the fridge. That's it! Easy, right?

Fresh butter!

I really can't stress enough how wonderful this tastes. It adds such a lovely flavor when spread on pancakes and toast. I haven't baked with it yet because we use it up so fast on everything else. We stopped using margarine ages ago and have been using "real" butter for everything for a while. I am amazed at how much better this tastes. As an added bonus, I have buttermilk that I can use to make pancakes or biscuits.

Now, if you put the health benefits of drinking & eating raw dairy products aside, the best part about this is the cost. I am most fortunate to be able to buy raw milk for $2.50 per gallon. Each week, I buy 3 gallons at a cost of $7.50. From that 3 gallons, I get about 2 1/2 gallons of milk to drink, a pound of butter, 16 oz of buttermilk and 32 oz of yogurt. If you bought that same amount of organic dairy product in the grocery store, you would probably be spending real close to $30, if not more than that. Sure, making our own dairy products from fresh raw milk takes a little bit of time, but if you figure out the savings over the course of a year, we are looking at almost $1200! I don't know about you, but that's huge for us! I know that not everyone is able to get pasture fed, raw milk for such an awesome price, but that's where you figure in the health benefits of raw dairy and realize that even at a higher cost, it's totally worth it!

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Stacy said...

That looks easy enough. We just made butter (from organic cream we purchased at the store) in a mason jar a couple weeks ago when we were learning about cows. It is a great way to burn off some extra energy in the little ones, but I can see how the job could get quite tedious doing it that way every time! BTW, would you mind sharing where you get your raw milk from? I am still searching for a close source (I know of one in Edinboro).

~LKB said...

Hi Stacy! We get our milk from the Bookamer Farm in Meadville. Not super close, but closer than Edinboro. I go once a week and buy 3 gallons which lasts us about a week though if I make cheese, I would need to get an extra gallon. If you decide to try them out, let them know I sent you and we can each get a free gallon of milk because they have a referral program. :) Here's their webpage for more info: http://www.bookamerfamilyfarm.com/milk.html

I've seen the mason jar method before but my two would probably wear out pretty quick and I would end up having to finish it myself. LOL


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