Sunday, June 26, 2011

Milk: Making butter

With the increasing price of food more people are choosing to buy locally or grow their own.  I didn't realize how expensive butter had gotten until the cows dried up and I had to start buying it again.  YIKES!!!  I miss the days when I was forced to make it every week with all my extra cream.  In a normal week, I had enough cream to make 9 cups of butter.  Since I make almost everything from scratch, I plow through butter like crazy.  Luckily I still have some homemade in the freezer, but there was a time I couldn't give it away fast enough....silly me.  Here is how I make it.

 First get yourself one of these:

  Or these:
 Or worst case scenario, one of these:

After milking, let the milk rest in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to naturally separate.  Skim the cream off the milk. With jerseys, you get a LOT of cream, it's easy to see the line separating the milk and cream.  Goat and sheep milk are naturally homogenized, but I have Nigerian Dwarfs and their milk is high in butterfat and separates somewhat.  Cow's cream normally yields yellow butter, and in the spring on fresh grass, it's so bright that it almost looks fake.  Goats convert yellow beta-carotene into a colorless form of Vitamin A, so you'll get white butter from them unless you add coloring to it (kind of defeats the purpose of 'natural' though, don't you think??)
At this point, you can pasteurize it if you want, bringing it to180 degrees F, then cooling it back down in an ice bath to about 60 degrees. Otherwise, set it on your counter for a few hours to get to room temperature, hopefully your room isn't too hot or too cold, 65 is as high as I would let it get.
I get all my equipment out before I start, you really don't want to have to rummage around in drawers looking for something with butter-covered hands.  I use a food processor, a sieve, a colander with a bowl underneath, nitrile gloves, butter knife, empty container, and large measuring bowl filled with ice water.

Pour cream into the food processor, taking care not to fill it past the liquid line.  Turn on the processor and let it go.  The cream will go from liquid to whipped cream to butter.  The pitch in the noise of my processor changes when butter forms and the liquid starts sloshing around differently than with whipped cream.  Some days it only takes a few minutes for butter to form, others longer.

Usually the temp of the cream is the deciding factor, but if you making many batches of butter, the processor may get hotter changing the time it takes to make it butter.  Around 60-65 degrees is ideal.  Once I made it when it was too warm, it didn't get to butter, more of a melted whipped cream bunch of yuck. 

Turn off the processor, and pour the contents through a sieve, capturing the buttermilk in another container for other uses.  Put the butter back into the processor and add ice water (filter through the strainer to capture any ice) and proceed to wash the butter in ice water.  I usually only turn on the processor for a 30 seconds to a minute at a time to clean out all the buttermilk. Rinse and repeat about 4 or 5 times. If you do not clean all the buttermilk out of the butter, it will start to smell and go one wants butter that smells like feet!!

Once it's done rinsing, I wear gloves (to make cleanup easier) and squeeze all the water out of the butter. What a workout for your hands!!  I then either put it in a container to use daily on toast or put it in one of the nifty adjustable measuring cups that you can push the contents out, nicely forming a full cup of butter (or whatever measurement you choose!)  I wrap them in waxed paper and then into a freezer ziploc bag and freeze them for up to a year.   You can find some nice butter molds online if you want to give your butter away.
When I'm finished, I usually give the buttermilk to the chickens.  You can cook many things with buttermilk (just bear in mind that it's not 'cultured' which has different qualities).

It's a nice treat for the hens. Since they gift me with so many eggs and keep the bug population down, I like doing something special for them.
 Once again participating in the Homestead Barn Hop, click to find some more interesting blogs!


  1. this is such an awesome post!!!!!!!!! i've made butter by buying cream at the store and could only dream of making it this way :0) so neat!!

  2. How cool is this post! I just bought organic cream at the store to make my own butter!! Thank you for keeping me from ruining my first batch!


  3. A very informative post! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Wow! Great post and very informative. Blessings from Wisconsin!

  5. This was so helpful, thanks Amanda! Do you have any how-to posts on milking?

  6. I don't have any how-to milking posts, usually because my hands are full! I'll try to get the 8yo out with me so she can take pics.