Cook it: On How (Not to) Make Butter


This is where I should remind you that you shouldn’t necessarily do as I do. Making butter, for example. Easy enough, right? Last year Tigress made it look so easy. So simple. And so damn beautiful! Really… could butter be more gorgeous? No, no it could not.

Caroline (Grow It Cook It Can It) selected butter as the thing to learn this month. Simple, right? I mean… don’t I see on small children on blogs everywhere shaking their sweet little jars of cream and then gasping in pure joy as it turns into butter? Isn’t that just the kind of simple magic kids love? Yes! We would make butter! She would declare me the most brilliant Mimi in all the universe by virtue of my kitchen wizardry!

grow and resist butter making

Uh huh. Sure.

Two weeks ago I we set out to make butter. Actually, let me expand on that. The night before I decided to make butter, the Babylady vomited in her sleep 3 times. Obviously, she stayed home from school the next day.

By randomness I mean that, while I couldn’t in good conscience send her to school, I remained disillusioned enough to believe that drop-in daycare was a realistic option. Bad idea, I know! Unconscionable really. Lucky for her (and society) I found out the center is no longer available for drop-in and needed to bring her to therapy with me. The drop-in daycare was a horrible idea anyway. I know! My bad. Don’t worry. I got my comeuppance.

So, yeah. Therapy with a 4-year-old coloring next to me. Awesome times. (However, lest you think I’d drag my child to a session and force her to endure the processing of my anxiety-addled brain… my therapist also helps me with new business planning, so all topics were business-related.) Afterwards, somewhat frazzled, but apparently not deterred, I decided to push my luck and go to the store to get cream for butter-making. The awesome Madison Market (Central Co-op) is in the area and I had a wild hair to get different types of cream so I could note any differences in the resulting butter.

grow and resist butter making

I picked up some whole, raw goat milk. Some whole, raw grass-fed cow milk. And finally, some pasteurized (not ultra) whole cow milk. All local and organic.

And, all milk. Milk. MILK! Not cream. Milk. In my scattered daze, I somehow went to buy a variety of local and not ultra-pasteurized cream and came home with effing milk. A hell of a lot of milk. A fact I didn’t even realize until 2 days later when I got ready to make butter with said milk. (The silver lining in this is that I realized that actual milk – real, raw, and grass-fed cow milk is absolutely delicious and tastes nothing like regular, over-processed milk. A whole new ball game kids!)

At that point the kiddo was still really sick. Fevered. Sleeping. So I waited until the next week to go ahead with the butter plan because, again, I was pretty sure kids were into this kind of thing.

Two kinds of local cream secured. One raw. One pasteurized. Butter-making commenced. However, her enthusiasm for shaking cream in a jar lasted a whopping 8 seconds. Seriously. She couldn’t wait to pour it in the mixer and be done with the whole shebang. WTH? I dunno. Maybe it is because she cooks and gardens with me so often that taking an ingredient (or seed) and having it turn into something else entirely is old news. Perhaps dairy turning into another form of dairy isn’t exactly flashy to a kid that knows the basics of bread-making and has her own cabbage garden. Who knows?!

grow and resist butter making

All that nonsense aside, basic butter making is easy.

  1. Get awesome (and not ultra-pasteurized) cream. Not milk. You’ll be mad if you accidentally buy milk. Trust me.grow and resist butter making
  2. Put in mixer and beat on high as it turns to whipped cream and then separates into butter and buttermilk.grow and resist butter making
  3. Drain off the buttermilk (into a jar), which I found to be easier said than done. I ended up with bits of butter, well, everywhere. It snuck out under the spoon. Over the spoon. Around the spoon. It was a mess. grow and resist butter making
  4. Gather up butter bits and chunks and squish together in a bowl at least twice as big as the amount of butter you have. Really. Do as I say. Not as I did. I used a small container of a size I thought I would store it in. Bad idea.grow and resist butter making
  5. Press and press (and press) to get all the buttermilk out. In a small bowl this results in butter being squished over the top.
  6. Run very cold water over butter and press some more until the water run off is no longer milky. A too small bowl means not much room for all that cold water.
  7. Butter. You now have butter. Salt. Or not. Freeze up to a year or refrigerate a week or two.

I didn’t take any more pictures. Now would be the time to tell you that, unbeknownst to me, I also was coming down with the same stomach virus. I was feeling a bit off at the beginning of butter-making and by the end I was dizzy, nauseated, and feverish. Which explains my dumb bowl decisions, lack of patience with the pressing, and irritation at the resulting mess.

It also explains why I’m off butter at the moment and why my stomach churns at the sight of butter. Hopefully I’ll be over that soon and the next Cook It is more successful around our house!

Check out earlier Cook It 2012 challenges: Cook It: Pasta and Cook It: (Sourdough) Bread.


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