Fancy butter

I love butter. I don’t eat it as often as I once did, but when I do eat butter, I want the experience to be glorious. I want it to make my taste buds sing. I want to be able to brag about it to my friends (although I wouldn’t, because that would be a little weird).

Buying butter from your local market is simple. And, since simple is a big theme on this blog, I’d be negligent if I didn’t acknowledge how easy it is to just buy butter.

However, making butter at home takes mere minutes and tastes incredibly better than the mass produced stuff. If you have 10 minutes and some heavy cream on hand, I strongly recommend whipping it up yourself. You’ll also get some amazing buttermilk out of the process, so it’s like you’re getting two great things for the price of one.

Fancy Butter, Basic Recipe

  • 1 pint organic heavy cream (the best you can buy, cream as the only ingredient, and NOT ultra-pasteurized)
  • Plastic wrap
  • An 8-oz. Ball jar and lid
  • Cheesecloth (natural, ultra fine)

Pour the cream into the bowl of your stand mixer and attach the whisk arm. Cover the bowl (as best you can) with plastic wrap or a lid specifically made for your mixer to keep the buttermilk from splashing out of the bowl. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also use a food processor with a chopping blade. You can also close it up in a 16 oz. jar and shake it for a long time, and it will do the same thing, but with a lot more effort on your part.)

On medium-high speed, mix the cream until it separates into curd and buttermilk. You’ll know this has happened because you’ll hear the buttermilk sloshing around in the bowl and splashing up on the plastic wrap. You’ll also notice the curd will have a yellow hue to it.

Not done:


Drape a square of natural, ultra fine cheesecloth over a large glass bowl and then pour the buttermilk and butter into the bowl.

Wrap up the butter in the cheese cloth, and gently squeeze out the buttermilk liquid with your clean hands. At this point, if you’re keeping the buttermilk, pour it into a separate container (preferably glass) and then give the bowl a quick rinse. After rinsing the bowl, rinse the butter in the cheesecloth under the water, too. Over the bowl, squeeze out the excess water again. Be careful not to squeeze so hard that the butter squeezes through the cheesecloth. Repeat this butter rinsing and gentle squeezing process until the water is almost clear squeezing out of the butter (usually three or four times).

Pour all the remaining liquid out of the bowl, unwrap the butter from the cheesecloth, and let the butter rest in the bowl. Using the back of a spoon, firmly pack the butter into the 8-oz. Ball jar, careful to smoosh out all air pockets. Then, put a little water on top of the butter before screwing on the jar lid. This water will help the butter to keep from absorbing smells and help to preserve the butter. Just pour it off before you use the butter, and add a little to the top each time you put the butter back into the refrigerator for storage. My grandmother used to do this with margarine, and it works wonders with butter, too.

Your homemade butter should keep for up to two weeks, but I sincerely doubt you can go that long without eating all of it. It’s incredibly yummy.

Over the remainder of this week, I’ll show you how to make herb butters, clarified butter, brown butter, and throw in some recipes for how to use these amazing fats. Today’s recipe is just the beginning.

6 comments posted

  1. Posted by Terri H. - 07/26/2011

    So will ultra-pasteurized not turn into butter at all?

    When Mom was teaching me to make whipped cream, she’d always say, “Be careful not to overwhip it! It could turn into butter!” But I’ve never seen it happen.

    She probably HAD seen it happen, since she grew up on a dairy farm.

  2. Posted by Erin Doland - 07/26/2011

    @Terri — The ultra-pasteurized will turn into butter, it’s just _off_. And, if you want to use the buttermilk for something, the buttermilk is off, too. I don’t know how to explain that any better, but the flavor and texture aren’t what you would expect butter and buttermilk to be.

  3. Posted by Terri H. - 07/27/2011


  4. Posted by John - 07/31/2011

    I made some today, and the only thing I could get from the grocery was organic, but it was ultra-pasteurized. It was called heavy whipping cream, so I’m not sure if that’s the same thing as heavy cream but it worked OK. The butter was a little on the sweet side so I added some salt and then it was delicious. The other thing was that I didn’t really get any buttermilk out of it. Maybe a few drops. Not sure what that means.

  5. Posted by JB - 08/03/2011

    I’m also interested in how much buttermilk this is supposed to yield. Here in Wisconsin there’s easy access to local, normally pasteurized milk (even non-homogenized), but I haven’t found a local dairy that offers butter or buttermilk. (Wisconsin is the only state that requires a license – an expensive and complicated license – to produce commercial butter.) I’d love make my own buttermilk, but I’m worried I’ll have to make a lot of butter to get a substantial quantity.

  6. Posted by Erin Doland - 08/03/2011

    @JB — With the cream I buy, I can usually get a ratio of about 1:1. If it yields 4 oz of butter, I also get 4 oz of buttermilk.

    @John — That’s weird. I didn’t have that happen the one time I used ultra-pasteurized. A third of me thinks it was because of the specific way your cream was ultra-pasteurized, a third of me thinks maybe there was something weird with the ultra-pasteurized stuff I used, but the last third of me wonders if you whipped it long enough? Very curious. And yes, freshly made butter is quite a bit sweeter than store bought. That’s the reason you will see “sweet cream butter” sometimes on the high-end, expensive butter you can buy at specialty markets. However, with all the mass processing and such, you can rarely taste the sweetness in large-batch manufactured stuff.

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