Homemade cultured butter and buttermilk
- You want to start with cream from grass-fed or mostly grass-fed cows (see here for why).
- You want to start with cultured cream (see here for why).
- 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.
- 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:
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.
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
Again, don’t make this a staple of your diet. Real, traditional, healthy butter is good for you, when eaten in the correct amounts.