It’s Saturday night and my DH has just come home from the
pub rugby. He says he can’t believe how random I am! He thinks I have gone a bit mad! “Have you seen the time?” he says and “Why make butter anyway? You can buy it from the shop!”
Well I suppose I have gone a bit mad; the kitchen’s a mess and it’s 11 pm but I am having a ball!
Today, everyone else in Wales was out enjoying watching the rugby. The Welsh rugby team was playing the latest game in the Rugby World Cup. It goes without saying that across the country, copious amounts of beer were being drunk as only the Welsh can. But I have been busy at work all day. (I am still the manager of Peacocks in Maesteg at this time)
On the way home from work, tired and hungry, I popped into the local Co Op because I
needed wanted chocolate. I saw that they had placed orange “reduced” stickers on 6 x 300ml tubs of double cream that were in the fridge, greatly reduced to 29p each. Coincidentally, I had read about butter making the night before. The instructions were in a lovely little book called “Low Cost Living“ by John Harrison. I just had to give it a try. The sell-by date on the cream is today, hence the price, so no time to waste!
Here is how I made butter.
Before I started preparing my evening meal, I tipped all 6 tubs into the biggest bowl I could find and left it to reach room temperature in a warm room,*
After eating my food (and of course my chocolate) and feeling revitalised, I got to work on the butter.
The cream had reached the perfect temperature of 20 degrees C by being in the warm kitchen. Using my hand mixer on the lowest speed, I mixed the cream for about 25 minutes.
The consistency of the cream went through the following stages;
1) White and nothing happening except getting thicker after mixing for about 15 minutes
2) White and a little bit lumpy for about another 5 minutes
3) Colour starts to change and a gets a bit more lumpy; buttermilk starts to form in the bottom of the bowl after about another 4 minutes
4) Then suddenly, like a spell out of Harry Potter, a big yellow lump of butter appeared as if from nowhere, swimming in buttermilk and splattering my camera lens!
Next, I washed the butter with cold water (yes washed!)
The first washing water can be kept as although it is thin it has a good amount of buttermilk contained in it; the next washes are mostly water so not worth the effort of saving.*
I washed the butter with clean cold water, squeezing the buttermilk out as much as possible with clean hands to start with and then the back of a large spoon. (Nail varnish wearing not recommended before anyone says anything!!) I changed the water seven times as the last wash needs to produce clean water. (These washings are essential as the butter will go off very quickly otherwise.)
I placed a wooden board on a tea towel to catch the remaining water and tipped the butter onto the board. I then patted and shaped the butter for a few minutes with a wooden spatula; forcing out the last drops of water. Once all the water had been patted out, I roughly measured out 4x 4oz and one 8oz portions. (Not exact as I’m not selling it!) The 4 x 4oz ones were wrapped in cling film, shaped into sticks and frozen. I sprinkled a level teaspoon of salt over the final 8oz and mixed well. *** I put it in my butter dish to be stored in the fridge.
DH thought the salted butter was very tasty on his morning toast the next day. He said that it was well worth the effort; though maybe it would be better to do it on a day off rather than at 9pm after work?
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and kids would be amazed to see such a magic trick so it might be a good way to keep them entertained on a rainy day.
However unless the cream is going out of date and reduced in price it works out quite expensive****
Alternatively, you can buy ready-made butter more cheaply and flavour it yourself.
Either way, it would be a nice Christmas or birthday gift with a fresh, homemade loaf for someone who has everything.
*Cream (double or whipping) can be brought to room temperature by putting in a warm room or warming drawer but don’t let it get hot. On this occasion, I popped it into the top oven (turned off) while I cooked my evening meal in the main oven below. I kept a close eye on it as I only needed it to warm up a little- it needs to be about 20 degrees C/ room temperature.
**Freeze the buttermilk and first washing water in small quantities for use later in bread making, scones or (American) biscuits. You can even drink it!
***The butter can be flavoured with salt, garlic, parsley or even maple syrup. When freezing butter, salt it after defrosting as it will become super-salty otherwise. **** You can use double or whipping cream and if you know a friendly farmer- you may be able to pay less than retail prices.
Have you ever made butter? Was it a success or a disaster? Have any tips? I’d love to hear from you.
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