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Author Topic: Making Butter  (Read 1516 times)


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
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    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Making Butter
« on: March 24, 2021, 07:10:28 pm »
I had someone asking some questions by PM, so thought I would post some notes here that I made for another person (also contacting me privately) a while back, in case they are useful to others, now or in the future.

Also, both the folks who contacted me were making butter in a food processor, and I don't use one, so if there are any hints and tips for making butter on a larger scale than a jam jar, perhaps others will hop on and offer advice!

The tricks to making butter are :

  • less is more #1.  Never fill whatever receptacle you are using more than 1/3 full of cream : it needs a lot of room to become butter
  • it needs to be cool but not cold.  In summer, make it early morning or late evening, bring the cream out of the fridge maybe half an hour to an hour  before using, depending on ambient temperature.  If you have a marble slab or a proper old-fashioned larder, stand it on / in there.  Then make it quickly before it all gets too warm!  (Conversely, in winter, make sure the cream is warmed up enough.)
  • If it's just not turning, put it in the fridge for an hour, (or stand at room temp in winter) then put half the amount into the same receptacle and try again.  It often goes then : it was usually too warm (or cold, in winter) and / or didn't have room :) 
  • less is more #2.  As soon as it starts to have any granularity or to "clear the glass", stop churning.  Then do more in tiny increments.  When it looks like the sort of scrambled eggs you get in greasy spoon caffs, you have gone just a little too far!  If it looks like butter, you have gone way too far and won't be able to wash it, so it will have quite a ripe flavour. 
  • I found it very useful to learn about butter-making using the jam jar method.  Then when you understand the process, you can move on to using an electric mixer or whatever, if you want.  (When I started, there were just two of us, and I found that one marmalade jar's worth of butter a day was just the right amount, so I used to make it daily in a jam jar.) 

To make butter in a jam jar :

  • sterilise a jam jar and lid
  • fill jam jar 1/4 to 1/3 (max) full with cool (but not fridge cold) cream
  • in summer, hold the jam jar with your finger-tips on base and lid (so as not to warm the contents up too much); (in winter you may find it helps to hold the jar in your warm hands), shake vigorously, with as much of a "sharp turn" at the end of each movement as you can : it is the action of hitting the sides of the jar which churn the cream. 
  • Keep shaking through the following stages :
  • Step 1 : cream thickens, you will hear a change in note from the liquid as it becomes less wet 
  • Step 2 : cream becomes thicker still, makes no noise.  If you have a look inside at this point, the jar will be almost full of something similar to whipped cream, but slightly more yellow-looking.  You are about half way through churning at this point :)
  • Step 3 : you start to see clear patches on the glass sides of the jar.  If you have a look inside at this point, you will see a slight granularity to the "whipped cream".  It can take nearly as long to get to this point from Step 2 as it did to get to Step 2.  If you have been trying much longer than that and are not getting this, the mixture is remaining like it was at Step 2, put it away to cool for an hour or so (or stand to warm up in winter), then try again with less mixture in the jar.  It nearly always goes (and if it doesn't, it needs a bit more cooling/warming and/or a bit more space ;))
  • Step 4 : you start to hear liquid again, this is the buttermilk leaving the butter.  You will see the whitish liquid (the buttermilk), and the butter mixture will be becoming more yellow and more like scrambled eggs.  The glass sides should be crystal clear as the butter mixture slides down them. 
  • Step 5 : experience will tell you when you need to stop.  You want it to be a granular mixture not quite like cheap scrambled eggs, you do not want it to have become like actual butter yet.  (If you go too far, use it as butter in cooking something that can take a ripe flavour.)
  • Strain the mixture through muslin / cheesecloth.  Keep the buttermilk for cooking or drinking.  It makes the best, lightest, airiest scones :).  (You will never want to eat scones out again.  Ever.) 
  • Using cold, cold water, wash and strain the mixture until the water runs clear.  I mix it very gently in a big bowl, then strain again, (usually takes about 5 times) but take care when mixing that you don't make it into buttercream yet.  The first couple of washings are good for the pigs, if you have some. (Note that in winter you may need to use water that isn't quite tap cold.) 
  • After the last wash, add salt if you want salted butter.  Mix it in very gently, you do not want to cream the mixture.  (Unsalted butter freezes well, but may have a riper flavour as it is harder to pat all of the water out without salt.) 
  • Now pat the butter (using the wooden "butter paddles" aka "scotch hands") until no more water comes out.  As you pat, the mixture will become more yellow and more like butter.  When it looks like butter and no more water comes out, it's butter!  Enjoy!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


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Re: Making Butter
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2021, 09:12:51 pm »
I've only seen butter made at home once, but I was mesmerised, as a small lad, by my gran's slow, patient manipulation/transformation of some creamy stuff into butter (without a fridge!)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 11:15:33 pm by arobwk »


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Re: Making Butter
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2021, 06:22:07 am »
really useful Sally thank you.


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