I Tried Making Homemade Butter—Here's What Happened
Maybe it’s the thrill of getting to create such a basic, kitchen staple, or a sense of nostalgia for the 19th century— either way, homemade butter is easily one of the most satisfying and simple things to make in your own kitchen. Despite its humble, All-American roots, I was a little intimidated by the process of making homemade butter. Was I going to feel like I was a character in Little House on the Prairie or end up with buttermilk splattered all over the kitchen? Did I need to buy a butter churner to make traditional, authentic homemade butter? Turns out none of the above were true— I just felt like a 21st century gal who loves butter and only made a slight mess using a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Follow along to see how to make butter at home.
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How to Make Homemade Butter
This homemade butter recipe is so easy. Don’t bother to get out a pencil and write down a grocery list of ingredients because I’m pretty sure you’ll remember this one: one pint of heavy cream (plus a little pinch of salt if you want to make salted butter). That's it! I chose to use a KitchenAid mixer to make my butter because I felt the most comfortable with it and it seemed the least risky in terms of making a huge mess. However, you can easily make homemade butter in a food processor, with a hand mixer, blender, or of course, a traditional butter churn.
If you’ve ever made whipped cream before, the first part of butter making should sound familiar. I affixed the whisk attachment and poured one pint of heavy cream into the mixing bowl. Then, mix the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, about five minutes total. Once the cream has thickened, increase the speed to the highest setting. This is when you may want to get out a dishtowel or splash guard, as the cream will break into milk solids and begin to separate, causing some splashing against the excess buttermilk. Turning the whipped cream into solid butter takes about 8 additional minutes. Once the butter appears to be fully formed (it will resemble several small blocks of yellow butter), turn the mixer off.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer the buttermilk (that's the liquid) to an airtight container like a mason jar and refrigerate to use for pancakes or biscuits (a two-fer!). Next, fill a large bowl with ice water. Gather the butter and form into a ball. Rinse the butter in the ice water, pressing and kneading the butter ball like bread dough. This will cleanse the butter of any residual buttermilk, which otherwise would cause spoilage. Change the water and continue the process until teh water looks clear. Remove the butter from the water and pat dry in a few layers of cheesecloth, a dishtowel, or paper towels. If you want to make salted butter, sprinkle ¼ tsp. of salt on the butter and knead to incorporate. Form your butter into a log or block, wrap tightly in parchment paper, and place in the refrigerator.
This recipe yielded 6.5 ounces of butter and it could easily be doubled or tripled. It’s not the most cost-effective butter for everyday cooking and baking, but it would make a delicious and impressive table butter. Spread it on toast or use it in a recipe where the butter flavor would really stand out, like Neapolitan Butter Cookies, Espresso Shortbread, or Popcorn with Brown Butter and Parmesan.