The butter process, according to me!


I have been making homemade butter from our farm fresh cream at least once a week for around five months now, so clearly this makes me an expert. OK, so maybe not an expert, but I definitely have made some observations that I wish someone would have pointed out to me when I started making butter.
You see, that prized cream will pass through many stages on its way to becoming glorious butter. Some of those stages make you swoon and others will make you cringe in horror. I have documented each of these stages for you and will provide my own running commentary on the process.


Stage 1: Selecting your cream. In my case, I am choosing to use farm fresh, home pasteurized heavy cream. In my experience, you must wait at overnight after pasteurizing your cream in order for it to turn into butter. The colder it is the better, but even after just 12 hours, I have failed to make butter and ended up with some strange hybrid of butter and whipped cream that never deflates. It’s interesting to be sure, but not what we are going for here. Raw cream works just fine if that is your preference and store bought cream should work well too if farm fresh isn’t available to you.


Stage 2: Preparing to whip. I typically whip a quarts worth of cream at a time, this produces around eight ounces of delicious butter. Because this is a rather large amount of cream to work with I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to do the work for me. My preference is the paddle attachment, but the whisk attachment also works. Your bowl and paddle need to be as clean, dry and cool as possible.
Stage 3: The slow mix: Pour the heavy cream into your bowl and begin to mix/whip at a slow speed. You are dealing with a liquid here and it will splash everywhere if you turn your speed on too high right away. Don’t worry this stage takes forever when making a quart of cream, have a cup of coffee or unload the dishwasher.
Stage 4: Bubbles: After about 5-10 minutes or so of mixing at a slower speed you will notice some bubbles starting to foam up around the edges of the bowl and an ever so faint thickening of the cream, feel free to start gradually increasing the speed of the mixer.

Stage 5: Thicker slop: Now you have what appears to be a sloppy thick mess of cream, it moves together like a semi-solid but is still clearly a liquid… does it really take this long to make whipped cream?

Stage 6: Soft Whipped Cream: Aha! A change! Maybe it will work after all! This looks familiar, sort of like whipped cream left sitting on top of hot fudge sauce a little too long. Progress.

Stage 7: Heaven: You will want to stop here. Your bowl is now full of soft pillowy clouds of whipped cream goodness. You will want to run for the nearest strawberry to swipe through this beautiful fluff. But alas, to make butter we must keep going.

Stage 8: GAH! This will be the sound you make moments after you check on that gorgeous whipping cream you saw only a minute ago. Now a lumpy mess there is no turning back.

Stage 9: It’s hideous: That lumpy mess now looks like curdled milk, you know the stuff that has been floating around in a sippy cup for the last week under the couch? That’s where we are, don’t worry you haven’t messed anything up. Press on.

Stage 10: Starting to show promise: Now that we have passed through the truly awful stages, and if you’re like me, you cranked up the mixer to speed through the nightmare, we are entering a stage that maybe looks a little like butter. We aren’t quite there yet, but the cream if definitely thick and more yellow and buttery looking, although not quite right. Stay close, it’s going to get intense.

Stage 11: Coming together: Now you will see that not quite butter that was crumbled all over the bowl start to stick together and form into a mass. Don’t stop now, but you might want to slow things down…

Stage 12: Is my butter bleeding?: Ok, so it’s most certainly not blood but you will start seeing milk appear in the bottom of your bowl. TURN THE MIXER WAY DOWN! Or else it will splash several feet across your counter top. The mass will start to form a nice solid lump in just a few more turns.

Stage 13: I did it!: Congratulations, you have made butter! And as a by-product, you have also made fresh buttermilk! Which once poured off from the butter lump is delicious to drink on its own or culture into buttermilk or use for cooking. Whatever you do, don’t waste it! Find an old farmer and give it to them as a gift, they will love you and shower you with stories of turning butter with a churn by hand.

Stage 14: The washing: In order for your butter to stay rich and delicious for more than a day or two you need to wash all of the excess milk out of it. This is done by pouring off the buttermilk, and dousing the butter with clean cold water, then mashing it around with a spatula. Rinse and repeat until the water is clear. I personally take a second to dry my bowl out, add the butter back into it and give it a spin to make sure I get all the water off my butter.

Stage 15: Salting: Should you desire salted butter, I have found it easiest to add a little bit (about ¼ tsp give or take to your taste) into the mixer with my washed butter and let it spin for a few seconds.

Stage 16: Store or eat!: You have successfully made homemade butter. You have conquered the kitchen and taken the dairy world by storm. Enjoy your reward on some fresh homemade bread, biscuits or mashed potatoes (and if you eat it right off the paddle I won’t judge). If you are storing your butter pack it into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for the longest shelf life (about 1-2 weeks). You can also freeze it if you have more than you can use quickly… That is never a problem in my house!


Bread and Butter

This morning came plenty early even with all of the anticipation of butter and cheese making filling my day.  Although I must confess, mornings are not as hard as have been in the past.  The guys had a day filled with tree chopping although they took a little time out to admire Merida.

butter-and-cheddar-017-copy My farmer is the one on the right by the fence.

My farmer is the one on the right by the fence.

The little girls and I spent the day processing dairy.

The butter was a phenomenal success.  It turned out creamy and rich and everything I hoped for and more.  My first time making butter I was a little nervous but I was so rewarded for my efforts.  Honestly,the most effort involved was separating the cream from the milk!

Here is what I did:

I poured about a quart and a cup of heavy cream into my stand mixer with the paddle attachment on.

Starting my mixer on a low speed I just let it do its thing until it started to get a little thicker.  Then I bumped up the speed as high as I could without the cream splashing out.  You will want to make sure you have plenty of space at the top of your mixing bowl so you don’t lose any of that goodness.


Once the cream starts getting thick like whipping cream you have to watch it.  Making it get to this stage takes about 10 minutes.  The rest happens in about 2 minutes.  The butter starts to resemble cottage cheese or something along that texture line and you will see milk sloshing around between the globs of butter.  Stop  your mixer.


I scraped all of that butter together and dumped it into a strainer over a bowl saving the buttermilk, it is yummy to drink (my Dad made a special trip over just to take the buttermilk, which was a favorite treat of his growing up) or to use for making bread, pancakes or anything else!  This buttermilk is not sour like the cultured stuff you buy in the store, it is sweet like milk and a little buttery.


Once I had the butter strained it looked like this and it was time to rinse it.  The process of rinsing was very simple, I covered the butter with cold water and squished it with my spatula.  I then drained off the water and repeated with fresh cold water until it ran clear.

After the final rinsing, I added 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (hindsight I would have added just a teeny bit less).  At long last…. or 20 minutes my butter was ready!  The end product was about 12 ounces of rich creamy goodness, that may be the best dairy product I have eaten to date.

Should you make your own butter, which I highly recommend having done it myself, and promptly informed my husband we may need another cow, just to keep up with MY butter demands, you should make some homemade bread to put it on, put on your pajamas and call it a day.

Looking for a great recipe for dinner rolls?  Check out my Sixty Minute Rolls over in the recipe section!

I also started cheddar cheese today as well (not quick and easy).  That has to age for 3 months and is still in its “pressing” process.  We will all have to wait in suspense a little longer on that one.