23 August 2011

Cultured Butter

My new work schedule has made me very productive in the evenings. I started culturing the cream for my butter project on Sunday afternoon, and actually had enough time to make it on a Monday evening--even after hitting the grocery store, going for a run, making dinner, and prepping Tuesday night's dinner. I'm amazed at how much I'm able to get done these days.

I saw this post for making cultured butter on the America's Test Kitchen Feed website and knew I had to try it. Since the recipe yields about 2 cups of buttermilk and I am making a blackberry buttermilk cake for my birthday this weekend, I thought I should get started soon.

First step is to culture the cream. I started with one pint of Strauss Creamery Organic Heavy Cream--delicious, but at $3.99/pint plus the $1.50 bottle deposit for the sweet little glass container, I had to stop there. I supplemented with locally made Alpenrose Heavy Cream for a total of one quart of heavy cream. To that, I added 1/3 cup of Nancy's organic plain yogurt (nice and tangy!) and shook vigorously. Um...a little too vigorously for my poorly sealed container. He he. We had a little spillage right away. Then it's just the waiting game. I covered the container with a kitchen towel and left it out to sit in our very warm house (thanks for showing up Portland summer) for a little under 24 hours.

I held my breath as I uncovered the container and smelled to see if it was rancid. Heavy cream, no matter the brand, is expensive. If I detected even a hint of rancidity, I would have been screwed. Lucky me, it was fine, and thick like yogurt, which is what I was looking for.

Next step was to chill it for about 2 hours. Perfect! That allowed me to go out for my run and make dinner. This time, I managed to properly seal the container.

After dinner clean up was done, I pulled the cream out, poured it into my stand mixer with the whisk attachments, and set it on its way to becoming butter. A small downside to not having a nicer stand mixer--the bowl moves on mine, not the whisks. That meant the plastic wrap I covered my bowl and mixer with to reduce the splattering mess all over my kitchen was useless. Toward the end after getting buttermilk everywhere, I ended up throwing a Target bag over the whole thing. It worked, but I couldn't really see the progress, so it was a short-lived solution.

Three pieces of plastic wrap, a Target bag, and many wipes later, I had my yellow butter chunks. Now it was time to strain it with the cheesecloth.

Patiently wait a minute for the buttermilk to drain through the cheesecloth and strainer below it into a bowl below. Or, if you're me, use a spatula to push the stuff through all the layers you thought you needed. Eventually, you get this:

And this:

Now, I kind of cheated here and used a picture of the final product in the bowl instead of showing the mess that was doing 6 ice water washes over this butter to wash out the excess buttermilk (it can make it go bad faster). However, if you're touching this much butter and liquid, you really don't want to pick up your camera. Trust me.

After squeezing out the last of the water, you can form three little logs into wax or parchment paper.

And voila! Homemade butter. I opted to leave it unsalted as I prefer it that way and figured anyone who wanted salted butter can just add a little on top.

Get the recipe: Cultured Butter


  1. Nice job! :D That looks fun.

  2. Thanks, Stacey. It was a fun project. Glad I had gone for a run so I had a little more patience with myself. So many steps!

  3. For the record, that butter was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.