We Americans need more culture

Sep 3, 2013 2

cultured-dairy

We Americans need more culture

It’s butter, you can’t get any better than butter right? Wrong. If you love butter, sour cream, buttermilk (the kinds that are available more commonly here in the US at least), etc. already then this is going to be, well….cruel.

Sweet cream

In The United States, by law, dairy products are pasteurized to reduce/eliminate the threat of pathogens inside the dairy growing and causing disease. Info on pasteurization is readily available and I won’t dive into a dissertation on the history of that. Long story short, pasteurization kills much of the bacteria inside dairy products. This is both good and bad. As stated, it eliminates/reduces the risk of disease, so that’s good. However, it also kills the beneficial bacteria that are actually good for us (see this post on gut bacteria).

After pasteurization, the cream we end up with is known as sweet cream. In this case, it’s sweet as opposed to “sour”. Not sour like lemon sour, but sour like sour cream and sourdough. Sweet cream has not been soured or fermented, as nothing can grow inside it anymore. This leaves the cream sweet in that it has higher levels of lactose (aka dairy sugar.)

Soured Cream

On the other hand, in Europe and many other countries most dairy products like this are fermented or “soured”. Sour cream in Europe is called crème fraîche (or similar soured creams)(what I don’t understand is why they call a soured cream “fresh cream”, but that’s all on them for being confusing)(at least we got the name right haha.) It is a naturally soured cream. The preferred butter in Europe is also a cultured butter and not a sweet cream butter.

If cream is allowed to sit at fermenting temperatures without having been pasteurized, that same bacteria that we kill here grow and begin to ferment the cream. That is how the term “sour cream” came about. It was initially cream that had been soured so that it had thickened and the flavor compounds had changed to a more yogurt like tanginess.

Side note is we can find cheesemakers and other “artists of cultures” who can use culture starters and grass-fed cream to create crème fraîche from pasteurized cream. This crème fraîche by this brand here I have bought and it is amazing. I can only imagine what it might taste like traditionally made. This brand here sells a grass-fed variety. Also, just use your own grass-fed cream and make your own! For instructions on how to make cultured butter and buttermilk see our post here.

Why do I care?

Diacetyl, lactic acid bacteria, and good digestion. Diacetyl is the compound that gives butter it’s buttery aroma (whoever invented English got real creative with the adjectives on that one “ummm, it’s….”buttery”?). Anyways, as the cream ferments, this compound is concentrated and intensifies. If you’re a butter lover and you haven’t smelled cultured butter before I hope you have strong will power or you may gain weight just by smelling it over and over and…well, you get the point. It can be added to foods to give a buttery flavor (stay away from these foods (if something doesn’t taste like butter because it has butter in it then it shouldn’t taste like butter)), but here we get it the way nature intended it.

Lactic acid bacteria is responsible for giving a tangy flavor. Imagine a butter or sour cream or buttermilk with an even more intense butter flavor AND the slightest tangy undertone similar to yogurt. Are you following me now?

Those who are lactose intolerant may find cultured creams easier to deal with. The fermenting process converts lactose to lactic acid. It takes the sugar that some people have troubles digesting and turns it into flavor. Win, win, right!? The bacteria in the culture are also probiotic and aid in the digestive process. If you were able to add more naturally probiotic foods to your diet there would be less searching labels for foods specifically formulated to have probiotics added in.

If you love butter, sour cream, buttermilk…etc. then I feel you owe it to yourself to experience cultured butter, cultured buttermilk, and crème fraîche. You’ll fall in love all over again, and your gut will thank you.

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Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk

Sep 3, 2013 1

finished-butter-h

Homemade cultured butter and buttermilk

The joys of real buttermilk. Sometimes I make butter just because we’re out of buttermilk (joking, but I have been tempted.) When I first realized that buttermilk was just the liquid that separates from the fat when you make butter I ran out and got a couple pints of the common brand name cream that is available here and ran home and (after a little research for instructions) made butter. I chilled the buttermilk and made my usual pancake recipe with it……epic fail! Total disaster. They were so salty we couldn’t eat them. What!? Isn’t buttermilk supposed to make pancakes and waffles insanely better? Now I was on a mission to figure this out. Turns out, there’s A LOT to it.

Some notes:

  1. You want to start with cream from grass-fed or mostly grass-fed cows (see here for why).
  2. You want to start with cultured cream (see here for why).
  3. Try to find an organic cream that is ideally low pasteurized, else pasteurized, if not, then ultra pasteurized in that order. The lower the temps used in the pasteurization process the better for dairy proteins.
  4. If you have awesome grass-fed organic raw cream then you’ve got a whole different process to follow. This post deals with pasteurized cream and inoculating it with yogurt. Your raw cream should culture on its own.

Once you have the right kind of cream and have it prepped, you’re ready to churn.

 

 

“Chuuurn baby, churn!” No? That could be your new theme song that you play while making butter…just a thought. You can just leave that playing while you finish reading (you know you want to.)

Give it some culture!

Let the cream sit until room temperature. In a very clean mixing bowl lightly whisk the yogurt and cream together. Cover air tight and leave on the counter for 12-24 hours. I tend to lean towards the 12 hour mark. The longer it cultures the more “soured” the flavor comes out to be. If you’re new to cultured butter, 12 hours might even be a little strong for you. After about 12 hours your cream will look similar to this when lightly sloshed:

 

cultured-cream

 

Once cultured, put the cream in the fridge for 3-5 hours and chill to stop the culturing process. If you have an electric mixer with a metal bowl put it in the freezer for an hour before beginning. Your mixer might also have a cold water bath accessory you can use. Keeping the cream chilled will aid in keeping the butter firm while kneading it later.

Time to make the butter

Remove cream from fridge and whisk it to blend it back together and pour it into the chilled mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to a low speed (I set my lift bowl stand mixer to speed 2). You’ll prefer a slow churn. Your butter comes out silkier, softer, and easier to spread. Churning at high speed seems to toughen the butter up a bit. Let it sit churning, for a long time, churning away at low speed (you can introduce churning theme song here)(this can be 45 minutes to an hour churning)(at about 30 minutes start checking regularly) once the cream is ready to start separating it will happen quickly and can potentially make a mess of your kitchen if you don’t have a splatter guard set up (at speed 2 mine doesn’t make a mess, so no splatter guard in the pictures.) The following are pictures just before separation and after separation and a video of that whole stage.

 

whip-cream

butter-buttermilk

(notice the yellow color of the fat)

 

 

Once the buttermilk and butter have separated, pour through a Fine Mesh Strainer over a bowl to catch the buttermilk. Knead butter in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out the buttermilk. I love these silicone spatulas as it’s very easy to scrape butter off of them. Try to get every last drop of buttermilk (it’s liquid gold! (culinarily speaking that is)). Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and put it in the fridge.

 

drain-buttermilk

buttermilk

jar-buttermilk

Don’t forget to rinse it!

Now you need to rinse the butter. If you leave any of that buttermilk in the butter it will spoil quickly. To rinse, put the butter back in the mixer bowl and add some ice water (ice included is OK) back into the bowl and mix it at speed 1; this will knead the butter and rinse out the buttermilk. I cover the mixer bowl with something similar to this stainless steel splatter screen and pour the water out.
Repeat this step 2-4 times until the water remains fairly clear. You can also just put the butter and ice water in a bowl and get your hands down in there and knead it yourself.

 

rinse-butter

rinse-water

(water is mostly clean though the butter on bottom of bowl makes it look less clear)

 

When it’s finally rinsed I like to put the butter in a cheesecloth and wring it out compressing the butter and forcing the remaining liquid out.

 

wringout-butter

 

You can leave the butter unsalted, or at this stage you can knead in some salt by hand. You can also put it in your butter dish and let it warm up a bit and then mix some salt into the butter with a fork. Just a pinch or two of salt will be enough to enhance the flavor.

Any recipe for pancakes, cornbread, or waffles…etc that calls for milk you can now substitute 1 for 1 with your new cultured buttermilk and taste the amazing difference. Also, you’re getting the added bonus that this buttermilk is probiotic and full of healthy for your gut bacteria…awesome.

 

finished-butter

 

Again, don’t make this a staple of your diet. Real, traditional, healthy butter is good for you, when eaten in the correct amounts.

Enjoy!

Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
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This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Pint of butter
Units:
Instructions
  1. Let cream sit on counter until at room temperature.
  2. In a very clean mixing bowl whisk the yogurt into the cream.
  3. Cover air tight and let cream sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. When finished with the culturing process, but the bowl for your mixer in the freezer and the bowl of cream in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Attach mixer bowl to mixer and pour the cream in.
  6. Begin churning the cream on low speed (2).
  7. Churn the cream for about 45-60 minutes, but after 30 minutes check it regularly as once the cream is ready to separate it happens quickly.
  8. When butter and buttermilk have separated, pour both into a fine mesh strainer over a clean bowl to catch the buttermilk.
  9. Knead the butter in the strainer a little bit and pour out (into the bowl) any buttermilk on the surface of the butter.
  10. Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and chill in the refrigerator as the buttermilk is done at this point.
  11. Put butter back in stand mixer along with plenty of ice water and run at low speed for about 30 seconds. Using a fine mesh splatter guard (or something else you have) pour out the water. Add in more clean ice water and repeat. This will rinse the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.
  12. Once completely rinsed, put butter in a cheesecloth and wring out as much of the water as you can. You can also knead it with wooden or silicone spatulas to knead out the water.
  13. Once all the water is removed store your butter in a butter jar or mold and let it chill in the refrigerator (to set the mold if using one). Now the butter is done.
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