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.
- 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.