How to Make Homemade Butter


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When we first learned about the benefits of raw milk (and the harm of pasteurized milk from non-A2 cows) we decided it was worth switching to healthier dairy products. Buying a herd share was a no-brainer first step. Our herd share enables us to obtain raw milk from the cow we lease and yogurt and cheese made from her milk. We’re not big milk drinkers so keeping our consumption (both for straight drinking and baking) to 1 gallon a week works fine for us. Unfortunately we’re not able to purchase pre-made butter at the same time.

That’s too bad because though we don’t drink much milk, we do use a lot of butter. A lot. I seriously considered purchasing a second herd share just to have a enough cream for butter making. Unfortunately that’s not in the budget at this time. So instead, I’ve been making a habit of skimming the cream off our weekly gallon of milk and freezing it. I skimmed the milk by pouring it out of a gallon milk jug and into a gallon container with a wide mouth and lid. After a day or so the cream rises to the top and easy to scoop off. (You can see the cream line in the picture below).

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After four weeks of skimming I ended up with about 7 cups of cream. These jars look very full, and they are, because of course the cream expands as it freezes. I want to be sure to say that I only filled them about ¾ full before placing them in the freezer. Filling them to the top would cause them to burst.

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After collecting to jars’ worth of cream, I decided it was time for my maiden voyage into butter-making.

First I put the frozen jars into the fridge (on the bottom shelf because it is the warmest place in my refrigerator). I couldn’t tell you exactly how long it took the cream to thaw, but it was somewhere between one-and-a-half and two days.  With thawed cream on hand, I was ready to begin.

How to Make Butter from Scratch

These are the tools and ingredients I used:

  • 3.5 cups of cream (approximate)
  • A blender or food processor
  • 1 cup of ice water
  • A strainer
  • A medium to large sized bowl
  • A spatula
  • Paper towel or a cheesecloth
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • Bakers twine
  • Salt (optional)

Step 1: Fill a liquid measuring cup with cold water and place it in the freezer.

Step 2: Place a strainer inside a medium-to-large bowl. Line the strainer with a double-folded paper towel or cheesecloth.

Step 3: Pour the cream into a food processor.

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Step 4: Begin churning the cream by turning the food processor on high. To avoid burning out my Ninja I processed for 1-2 minutes and then gave the machine a 30-60 second rest. It took about 20 total minutes before I was done. (Next time I’m going to try this process with an immersion blender.)

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Step 5: Eventually the cream will start to curdle. In my blender most of the butter actually ended up on the lid and the top sides while the buttermilk settled to the bottom.

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Step 6: Remove the water from the freezer.

Step 7: Scrape/scoop out the butter and place it into the towel. Gently squeeze (above the strainer) to remove the buttermilk. If you’re using paper towel, be careful not to squeeze too hard or you’ll create a hole.

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I repeated this process pouring out the buttermilk and straining it through. The result was very smooth buttermilk but such a minimal amount of butter that I decided to discard it.

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Step 8: Now you’ll need to rinse your butter in cold water. This process helps to further remove excess buttermilk which will keep your butter fresh, longer. Wash the butter by adding a small mount (about a ¼ cup) of cold water to the food processor and then returning the butter. Pulse 4-6 times and then carefully pour off the cloudy water. Repeat this process three or four times.

Step 9: After rinsing the butter, you can squeeze it to release any trapped water. I did this with my bare hands since the butter was still quite cold. If the butter is relatively warm it will of course stick to your hands.

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Step 10: If you want to add salt, here’s where you do it (to taste). I opted not to.

Step 11: Next place the butter onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and roll into a log shape. You can use the butter right away or you can freeze it. My butter was destined for the freezer so I tied some bakers twine onto the ends and stored it away.

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Butter and Buttermilk

Viola! We have homemade butter! It looks to be about 4 tablespoons made from two weeks’ worth of cream. I also have several cups of leftover buttermilk which I’ll use to make buttermilk biscuits tonight. I’ve still got a full jar of cream in the fridge and there’s plenty of time left in the day to have a second batch of butter ready to enjoy with those biscuits!

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The process was pretty darn easy! With as much butter as we use, I doubt I’ll be able to make enough to keep up with our consumption, but I’m looking forward to at least reducing the amount of butter we purchase from the store.

Do you make homemade butter? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

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