Want to live out your video game fantasies of riding the Oregon Trail? Without the dysentery and broken wagon axles? Why not try making some butter?
In all honesty, this isn’t something I do often. I usually reserve it for a special occasion or holiday or when I just have a lot of heavy cream that is about to go bad in the fridge. The taste of fresh butter is pretty amazing but I go through so much in this house that I still rely mostly on regular store bought sticks. I made it today because I was out of butter (oh, the humanity!) and had a desperate need for cookies.
If you are in the mood for fresh butter, it is about as easy as it gets. All you need is heavy cream, a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth. (and salt if you want salted butter)
Add your cream to the bowl of your stand mixer and start it up. Start slowly so you don’t splash it all out of the bowl but as soon as bubbles start to form, you can turn it up to medium.
You’ll see it go through all the stages of whipped cream. After it reaches the stiff peaks stage, it will start to look weird–almost like it is drying out which means you are getting close!
I scrape the bowl down fairly regularly during this process. After the “dry” stage, you might notice a little liquid at the bottom. To get to this stage usually takes me maybe 8 minutes of mixing.
Turn the mixer back on and stand close by–you are about to make butter!
Voila! Now it is time to drain and wash your butter. I use a spatula to try to stick all the little clumps of butter together into as solid a puck as I can get, then dump out all the liquid. You’ll have lots of butter chunks and some liquid remaining since its impossible to get it all. You might also have some heavily whipped cream that hasn’t quite made it all the way to the butter stage. To get rid of this and to increase the storage life of your butter, you need to wash it. Put a few cups of very cold water into your bowl with the butter and return it to the stand mixer for 30-60 seconds.
Now that the remnants of cream have been washed out, it is time to squeeze your butter dry.
Dump the water/butter mixture onto a clean dishtowel or piece of cheesecloth. Squeeze and wring all the moisture you can out of it, then put the butter into a bowl for storage.
I love the reverse texture of my kitchen towel on the butter. Use it up with a week or so since homemade butter doesn’t have a long life.
My quart of heavy cream yielded about 12.5 oz of butter–or about 3 sticks’ worth.
**If you want salted butter instead of unsalted, just add a couple of teaspoons of salt to the cream as you start mixing.