In the early days, it took a little while to get enough cream to churn, and so it was collected over various days. Because the milk in these small old-timey dairies was not refrigerated, the lactic acid bacteria inherent in dairy would ferment slightly. This cultured butter has a very tangy and rich flavor. Most butters made in Europe still taste this way, although they are made from pasteurized cream inoculated with lactic acid. Uncultured butter made from straight-up pasteurized cream is called sweet cream butter, and is what we’re used to in the United States.
At its very essence, making butter requires nothing more than agitation. What you’re doing is separating the fat from the milk. You can use a blender, a stand mixer with the whip attachment, or just shake by hand in a mason jar. For those who desire to dedicate themselves to making it regularly, you might invest in a butter churn. If you use a stand mixer, be sure to place a kitchen towel over the mixer and the bowl to stop the buttermilk from flinging all over your kitchen, which will happen when the butter globules form. The buttermilk becomes thin like water at that point.
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- ice water
- salt to taste
- Set a pint of heavy cream out to warm to room temperature, about an hour.
- Pour cream into your device or into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. If using a machine, turn on low speed, then raise to medium speed. If you're using a jar, start shaking (you'll need some serious elbow grease if doing it by hand).
- First, the cream will turn into whipped cream with soft, then stiff peaks. Keep going until the cream breaks. If you’re shaking the cream by hand, you’ll hear a sloshing, then you’ll begin to feel something more solid hit the sides of the jar. If you’re using a stand mixer, you’ll see the butter clinging to the beater. This usually takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes or even 20 with an electric butter churn. It’s gentler. Churning by hand will take longer. In this process, you are separating the butterfat from the liquid.
- Once the butter has solidified, pour off the buttermilk and save it for baking (or drink it!). Scoop the butter into a bowl. Rinse the butter by pouring ice water over it and pressing the remaining buttermilk out with a small spatula or a spoon. Pour off the water and repeat the process. Keep rinsing and squishing the butter with the ice water until the water runs clear.
- Add some salt if you like and work that through the butter.
Butter freezes really well. What makes butter yellow? It is the beta carotene that creates the yellow in cow milk. Butter made from our Normande cows’ milk is an even deeper yellow than butter from the grocery store. The reason is a combination of the richness of our Normande cow’s cream and their 100% pasture-based diet.