It’s easier than you think
Cream is a thick suspension of butterfat globules in water. If cream is shaken, beaten or churned, most of the liquid escapes and the butterfat globules create a single mass — butter. All you need is a hand whisk, an electric mixer or, and screw-top jar for shaking.
Steps for churning the cream
- Use only pure, fresh, pasteurized cream.
- The ideal temperature for churning is 10°C (50°F). Butter churned at a higher temperature will be soft and keep poorly; at lower temperatures, it will take much longer to form.
- Fill the bowl or churn about half full of cream.
- After 15 minutes of churning, the cream should begin to feel heavy. If it does not, check the temperature.
- When using goat’s cream, it helps to add five to ten millilitres (one to two teaspoons) of cold, skimmed cow’s milk.
- After another 10 to 20 minutes (allow an extra 10 minutes if hand-churning), the cream should separate into buttermilk and wheat grain-sized pellets of butter.
- Beware of over mixing, which will blend the buttermilk back into the butter granules.
- When the granules have formed, stop churning and strain off the buttermilk (which can be refrigerated and used in scones, pancakes, pikelets, breads and milkshakes).
- Thoroughly rinse the butter with chilled water 4°C to 6°C (39°F to 42°F) colder than the churning temperature. This can be done in the churn (add enough water to replace the buttermilk and stir gently) but a better way is to place the butter on cheesecloth in a colander and run chilled water over it. This removes all trace of buttermilk, which improves quality, and it hardens the butter grains for further working.
- Salt will help increase shelf life and can be sprinkled over the granules and partly dissolved before you work the butter; allow six to 10 millilitres (1 1/4 to two teaspoons) per 500 grams (two cups) of butter.
- Using two wooden butter pats or tablespoons, gently work butter grains together, moving systematically around the bowl and pressing the butter into the sides of the bowl. Drain off the excess water.
- When all the salt is incorporated, tip onto a wooden board and pat into shape.
- Wrap well in wax paper and refrigerate.
The butter should keep this way for two weeks; it also freezes well. Sterilize all equipment and utensils with boiling water after use.
If you plan to make butter on a regular basis, a home butter churn may be a wise investment.