Monday, February 09, 2009

Project O' the Day: Smooth Like Butter

(Amended Version)

Did anyone else go through Pioneer Days in elementary school where you poured a quart of cream into a jar and practically shook your arm off trying to make butter? I did. Thus, I initially wasn't too enthusiastic when my papa informed me that he had discovered a really cool butter churn that had been discarded by an outgoing neighbor. Butter churn? Gee dad, sounds like a boatload of fun.

I should have known better. My father has a knack for acquiring nifty machines as evidenced by our old fashioned apple peelers, barber shears and a whole garage full of pulleys and other miscellaneous um..stuff.
My initial hesitation aside, this was truly a spectacular find. Pop in the cream, give it a (rather longish) whirl, and out comes butter! It's good too, tastes better than the store-bought variety. Now we've got homemade bread, jam and butter! More to come on my trials and tribulations with homemade sourdough starter.
So, without further ado:

-Step 1: Obtain an awesome butter churn like the one pictured above. Antique shops perhaps? If that fails, grab a jar with a very secure lid and a friend with strong arms.


Step 2: Pour any amount (it's the only ingredient) of heavy whipping cream into your churn (or jar)
Step 3: Start churning. Or have your friend start shaking. Give 'em some music with a good beat so they can dance around the room while they produce your butter.
Step 4: Keep churning. It took me a good 20 minutes. In fact, I was beginning to despair that I had somehow messed up the churning process since I wasn't getting any results. I had just about given up when VIOLA! the solids separated into clumpy chunks of butter and the liquid buttermilk start sloshing around. Hooray.


Step 5: (Amended version) Keep the buttery clumps in the jar and pour off the buttermilk through a fine-sieved strainer. Refrigerate buttermilk. Add enough water to the churn so that the buttery clumps float. Ideally, the water should be slightly warmer than the butter so that it stays soft. Turn the crank a couple times. Excess buttermilk will cloud the water. Pour off the water and repeat the process until the water runs clear, 3-4 times.

Step 6: (New Step). Salt. Salt is optional but I tend to like it when using butter for spreading on toast. I typically use unsalted butter for baking but we find that we use far more salted butter in our home than the unsalted variety. According to the instructions, you should add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lightly dampened salt to each pound of butter. Mix thoroughly. We erred on the side of caution and added only 1/2 teaspoon of salt which turned out to be a wise decision as we discovered later that our one quart of cream only yielded 11 ounces of butter. (See weighing experiment, below). I thought it was a little too salty.

Weighing the finished product

Anyone have good recipes for buttermilk?