I came across a recipe for fresh butter on The Simple Spatula the other day, and it inspired me to try it for myself. I have made butter only once before. It was 1985. I was wearing charm necklaces and knee-highs and saddle shoes and still had naturally platinum blonde hair. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McGee, was teaching us about food science. I remember little about this section of lessons apart from a series of glass jars filled with different food bits (apples, cheese, oreos) that we monitored every day for mould growth, weird smells and other changes that make wide-eyed 5-year-olds squeal…. And I remember making butter.
We sat in our sharing circle on the itchy, brown standard-issue school carpet and tried to sit still as Mrs. McGee explained that we were going to change the milk in the giant mason jar she was holding into butter. And then she started to shake it. She shook it to her left and right and above her head, and after a little while, she passed it to one of my classmates. And shaking commenced. I don’t remember how long it took 13 kindergartners to churn butter, but I remember holding that huge glass mason jar full of cream in my tiny paws. My finger tips barely reached around the glass and I remember how carefully I had to shake it for fear of dropping the thing and ruining the butter experiment for everyone. And sure enough, by the end of the afternoon, we had created butter.
25 years later… I picked up a pot of double cream (300ml for 84p) and headed back to the house to search for a mason jar. It’s funny… I feel like in America, everyone’s mom has a mason jar in the back of some cupboard. But here in the UK, that is not the case. I ended up washing out (repeatedly) a big old jar of curry paste until it stopped smelling like a curry house. I poured in the cream and added a big pinch of salt (which will be bigger next time) and in my haste to get shaking, I proceeded to dent the lid and damage the seal! Not to worry. MacGuyver viewing came in handy.
In all it took about 20 minutes of vigorous shaking (including some breaks to rest the arms) before the solids separated from the liquids and I shouted right in Jonny’s face “I DID IT! I MADE BUTTER!” I shouted because I was so surprised that it finally worked. The separation seems to happen in an instant, right as you’re about ready to throw the jar against the wall because all you’ve managed to do is make really thick salty whipped cream and sweat profusely. I shook the jar for an extra couple minutes until I had a nice big solid lump of butter in a jar of liquid buttermilk. It was like 1985 all over again.
So is making butter it really worth it? I say so. The flavour is light and delicious, and you can control the salt content so it’s just to your liking; the texture is smooth and it’s perfectly melty on hot bread or muffins. Homemade butter doesn’t keep quite as long as processed butter, and making your own won’t save you 10p. But think of all the calories burned before calories consumed! I’m hooked on it and will be making more again very soon.
Betty Botter had some butter,
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
it would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter–
that would make my batter better.”
So she bought made a bit of butter,
better than her bitter butter,
and she baked it in her batter,
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
bought made a bit of better butter.
To make fresh butter:
Combine heavy cream with salt, to taste, in a jar and shake vigorously until the solids separate from the liquids.
Drain the buttermilk (reserve it to make something else!) and pat your butter with paper towels to dry it off a bit. This will help it keep longer.
Refrigerate an air-tight container.