How to Make Homemade Butter

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Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade butter using simple, homestead ingredients…

If you’re a homesteader (or a wanna-be), making your own butter is a no-brainer. It may sound intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but trust me – homemade butter is actually one of the easiest traditional foods that you can make!

It’s incredibly simple – all you need is 1 ingredient (cream), and a way to agitate it. This can range from an old-fashioned butter churn, to an egg beater, electric mixer, hand mixer, or even just a plain old Mason jar with a lid!

Homemade butter is incredibly rich and delicious – especially if you make it with cream from your own pasture-raised cows – and since it’s fairly expensive to buy at the store, making your own butter just makes good sense.

Even if you don’t have your own cows, you can still make butter from storebought cream. Keep in mind that non-homogenized cream works best. (If you buy non-homogenized milk, you can also skim off the cream and store it in the freezer until you have enough for a batch of butter.)

The recipe below shows how simple it is to make homemade butter using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

You will also need a few simple tools, such as a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the bowl, a colander or cheese cloth to drain your finished butter, and cold water for rinsing your butter. You will also need a sturdy spoon to help press the remaining buttermilk out of the butter when it’s done, as well as an airtight container for storage.

The only other items you need are heavy cream and a bit of salt. (The salt adds flavor and also helps keep your butter fresh for longer.)

When making butter, keep in mind that your yield will depend on the butterfat content of your cream. The heavier (thicker) the cream, the more butter you will get from a given amount of cream. Since we don’t have our own cows, we typically skim the cream off of the raw milk we get from our herdshare, and make small batches of butter mainly for eating on vegetables or spreading on bread. 3 cups of cream generally yield us about 4-6 oz of butter. This recipe states that 1/2 gallon of cream yields 12 oz of butter. Add a pinch of salt to taste, or up to 1/2 teaspoon for 8-12 oz of butter, depending on your preference.

How to Make Homemade Butter Using a Stand Mixer

  1. If using your own using farm-fresh milk, skim the milk by hand, or run the milk through a cream separator. Put the cream into a container (I like to use Mason jars), and allow it to settle for at least 4 hours.
  2. Remove the heavy cream from the refrigerator, and pour it into the bowl of the stand mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment (or hand mixer), mix on high until whipping the cream forms stiff peaks. Continue mixing through the whipped cream stage until solids appear. You will notice as the solids (which is the butterfat) begins to form, the cream volume will seem to fall. Pro Tip: To keep the cream from splashing outside of the bowl, drape a tea towel over the top of the stand mixer.
  4. Stop and scrape the solids off the sides of the bowl to equally incorporate. You may have been mixing for 20 minutes by now. Start mixing the cream again at medium speed.
  5. Paying close attention, stop the mixer and remove the whisk, as soon as the solids start to all come together. When this happens, you should have lumps of butter and thin liquid buttermilk in your bowl. Pro Tip: You can save the buttermilk and use it in recipes that call for buttermilk. Just keep in mind that it will not have the same tang as store-bought buttermilk because it is not cultured.
  6. Pour the butter and buttermilk through a colander (or strainer or cheesecloth) to separate the butter from the buttermilk.
  7. Take the lump of butter in your hands and begin rinsing it under cool temperature water, squeezing out all of the excess buttermilk as you rinse. Keep working and squeezing the butter and alternately rinsing it under cool water until you are satisfied that all of the buttermilk is rinsed out. (Note: You will melt and lose some of the butter this way due to the heat of your hands; alternatively, you can place the butter in a glass bowl, and press and knead it with the back of a sturdy metal or wooden spoon to press all the buttermilk out.) Pro Tip: Make sure ALL of the buttermilk comes out of the butter. Any buttermilk that remains in the butter will go rancid quicker than the butter and spoil it all. If your butter starts to smell cheesy in a few days, you know that you have buttermilk left in it. In that case, use it quickly because it will not last much longer before spoiling. 
  8. If you prefer to have salted butter, sprinkle some salt on and mix it in. I recommend adding salt in small increments and taste testing it until you get it how you like it. Pro Tip: In addition to flavor, salt also helps remove moisture from the butter, which will aid in preserving it longer.
  9. Store homemade butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to a year.

Recipe Source: RootsAndRefuge.com

Alternatively, if you don’t have a stand mixer or prefer to make butter by hand, you can also use a hand mixer OR – the simplest method – put your cream in a Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid, and just shake it until it turns into butter! This method does require some elbow grease, and it will definitely give you a good arm workout, so it’s best for small batches of butter (I use 3 cups of cream in a quart Mason jar).

I have found this method is faster (usually takes about 15 minutes) and there’s less cleanup than when using a mixer, so this is what we usually use for making small batches of homemade butter. If we have a larger amount of cream (a quart or more), then we’ll use the stand mixer.

Whatever method you choose, making your own homemade butter is easy and fun, and gives you a feeling of self-sufficiency that can’t be beat!



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