Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blaine Does Butter

Last summer, at age 43, I did something for the very first time: I made butter. And it was so absolutely rockin’ cool that I’ve been making it every week since. Don’t ask me why I enjoy it so much because I really don’t know.

Maybe it’s because we only use real butter in our house and a pound of it in the grocery store goes for around $3.50 these days (we almost never have to buy any since I've started making it).

Maybe it’s because it tastes better than store-bought butter and we know EXACTLY what’s in it and how it was made (not to mention who made it :-)

Or maybe it’s just because I like making it so much. Did I mention that I think it is SO ROCKIN’ COOL?

I know; I’m weird.

Every week I skim about a quart of cream from the milk I get from a local farm. Catherine uses a little bit of the cream to put in her coffee, and in the summertime we’ll put some to good use making homemade ice cream. The rest of the time, it’s butter.

It’s so easy to make it’s ridiculous. Just shake it up and watch what happens. The below photos are from a batch I made last week. From cream to butter took about 10 minutes total time.

Half a jar of cream (it will expand).

Starting to thicken up . . .

Just before it starts to separate; really thick here
and hard to shake, but only for a few seconds.

Starts collapsing and clinging together . . .

And suddenly, you have pure butter and
old fashioned buttermilk!

Pour it into a collander (I got this one for $1
at the dollar store) . . .

Unworked butter (still needs residual buttermilk
wicked out or it will have a slightly sour smell)

Push the butter around for a minute or two until
no more buttermilk squeezes out . . .

Press into a mold . . .

New batch ready to stick into freezer. Once frozen,
I'll remove from mold, cut in half, wrap, & put in
freezer until needed.
So Rockin' Cool.


Kimberline said...

If only the farmers here would sell raw milk! I have 5 kids who would love to take turns shaking the jar (at least one time each for about a minute) and after that I would have to use my kitchen aid.

Oh,I would love to make our butter and I would love to have healthy raw milk, but I live in Illinois and the farmers here are AFRAID to sell raw milk. I'm sure some do, but I don't have any "connections" to those who do, unfortunately.

At least it is still easy to get good free range eggs, but I don't know how much longer that may last.

Blaine Staat said...

You can't buy it in Kentucky either, but there are ways around that if you personally know a farmer (which is pretty easy in a small, rural town).

They can "give" the milk to you for free while you make a separate, general contribution to their farm or "overpay" for their eggs. It's also legal to buy the milk to feed to your dogs (or other animals), just not for human consumption. Another way around is to buy "milk shares" in a cow; that way, since you are part "owner" of the cow, you aren't "buying" the milk. They may have something like that near you.

It's ridiculous to have to do those things to get a natural product that human beings have consumed for THOUSANDS OF YEARS before pastuerization was invented, but that's the world we've built for ourselves.

Big business owns the food distribution system and the shelf life of raw milk won't allow it fit there, so since they can't profit from it, they make it illegal. (My view anyway).

The good news is that there are pushes on in many states to make it legal again.

Blaine Staat said...

The other issue with raw milk is that it's not just the milk; once you have it, you suddenly realize that you could make EVERYTHING in the dairy isle if you had a mind too - butter, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, ice cream . . .

That's a whole lot of money.

BegFookinScottishMatthew said...


We saw a thing on TLC or the like about a woman who is a "butter smuggler." She literally violates state and federal laws by transporting raw milk across state lines.


MrsMamaHen said...

I love it. There is just something great, or so rockin' cool...about the simple things. The weird ones are the ones that don't see it.

Mary A. Miller said...

Truly, So Rockin'Cool.

Yes, another area where the government controls us. Sad. It just "ticks me off" sometimes!

Kimberline said...

We just watched Food, Inc. through Netflix. I think after my husband saw just WHERE our food comes from it suddenly opened up the possibilities for us growing much more of our food and looking for resources for raw milk and pasture grazed cows.

I've asked for chickens every year since we moved here and each spring he says no. This spring he said "maybe as soon as you figure out a coop." After watching that documentary he is saying maybe we should build a chicken coop and have our own eggs and occasionally raise some chickens for the freezer. NOW he understands why I wanted chickens.

When you see what garbage we are being fed, suddenly food that consists of only one ingredient seems much more valuable and precious. We have some acreage. We could be eating much better if we would put the work into it.

You commented about how having raw milk opens the possibilities for making many dairy products. I saw a TV clip about making homemade mozzarella cheese. It isn't hard really and I think my kids actually would enjoy doing that occasionally.

I am going to go to the farmer's market as soon as it starts up this spring and ask around about a source for raw milk. I drive right by 2 dairy farms on my way into a nearby town, but a friend told me they have been feeding their cows "Sunny Delight" and Marshmallows to boost the sugar content of milk. Here I am trying to find quality raw milk and the farmers are even feeding junk food to their cows. What is wrong with this picture?

Teal said...

Blaine, you may be weird according to your own assessment, but it takes all of us self-described weird people to appreciate life and all it entails. I have lots of weird in me too! I think your butter-making is wonderful! Keep it up and keep us thinking outside the box.

Kelly said...

I have fond memories of going to my great grandmother Rinehart's house in Saluda County SC (where my family hails from...poor dirt farmers an such). She'd milk the cow and separate the milk and it was my job to churn it, which amounted to pumping a wooden handle on a large glazed pottery jar. The pound cakes she would make with it were AWESOME. It also may explain why she lived 98 years.

Diane N. said...

Hi Blaine,

I just made butter according to your directions! I'd tried before without success in a mixer. Just by shaking a jar, within 10 min. I had butter as you described. The photos were really helpful. Also, the final creamy butter is much, much "softer" than I expected. I used a screen sieve -- not good. It was harder to get the buttermilk pressed out. So next time I really will use a colander with bigger holes.

Tomorrow's breakfast: buttermilk pancakes served with butter! Thanks for the post!

Blaine Staat said...

@Diane - I've experienced all kinds of variations. I've had the cream turn to butter in as little as 5 minutes; other times it's taken over 1/2 hour. Sometimes the butter is fairly firm, other times very soft. Not sure why (yet!).

If it's really soft, I will put it into a regular bowl and work it around, pouring the buttermilk out as I go.