easy homemade butter

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Homemade butter is a real treat, and while not very cost-effective for high-volume baking considering the cost of cream these days, it’s something I always make for a special occasion, which can be as simple as good friends coming over for dinner.

Ready for the “no recipe” directions? All you need is a food processor and one 16-ounce container of heavy cream to get started (heavy whipping cream will work too).

Pour the cream into the food processor, making sure to fill the bowl no more than halfway unless you want recreate that lesson in volcanoes from science class.  Press the “on” button and in less than ten minutes you’ve got the base to many a dish.  Don’t walk away, though, or you’ll miss all the fun of watching the various stages it goes through to produce a rich, creamy mound of butter (moms this is a terrific rainy day activity a la science experiment).  The trick is to keep the machine on past the point you think you goofed.  It will be sloshy at first, then become frothy and form a soft whipped cream.

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Seconds later the whipped cream will get very firm and coarse until it “collapses” and begins “sloshing” again.  That’s the point at which you think this will never work.

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Moments pass and it miraculously forms a pale yellow mound with liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

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That liquid gold is buttermilk, and while it’s readily available in supermarkets, finding it freshmade is near impossible in Brooklyn—one must trek into Manhattan and visit the Union Square Greenmarket, so tack on $5 in round-trip train fare. Save this bounty and use it to make salad dressings, biscuits, or chill it to enjoy a fresh cold glass.

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Once the butter has formed, transfer it to strainer and place over a bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press the butter to expel (release) any excess buttermilk.

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This will help the butter stay fresh longer. At this point you can also salt it if you like.  If you prefer sweet cream butter skip the salt.  Store in an airtight container and use as you would the store bought stuff. As a general rule of thumb, the amount of butter produced is about half the amount of cream you use, give or take.  The 16-ounce container I started with yielded 7.5 ounces of butter.

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16 Responses to “easy homemade butter”

  1. Hi! I love your posts…so full of knowledge and wonderful recipes and tips. Anyway, ironically, I tried to make some butter tonight and it didn’t turn out. I’ve made it a couple times before without incident (unsallted), so all I can figure is that it was because I added 1/4 tsp salt to it after it had been ‘mixing’ for quite a while (I used my stand mixer). And after 45 minutes (or more!), it still didn’t set up properly and I had to dispose of it. ;( Do you think that was the cause?

    Many thanks,
    Christi

    • Hmm, I’ve never used the stand mixer to make butter. I can say the whole process really should take more than 10 minutes for a pint of cream to turn into butter. It would make sense that you can use the mixer and simply take the cream past the point of being whipped but perhaps the blades in the food processor whip the air through it different, aiding in the butter making process. I don’t think a tiny bit of salt would’ve affect the final outcome.

  2. … can’t wait to try. Can I add some herbs at a certain point and make herb butter?

    • After the butter has been made, you can fold in chopped herbs of your choice. Since the recipe makes almost half a pound, I’d suggest freezing half of it, so it doesn’t go to waste. Also, the cream doesn’t have to be ultra-pasteurized, though these days it’s hard to find anything else at the supermarkets. Farmers’ markets are your best bet.

  3. … also, should I avoid ultra- pasteurized?

  4. How much salt do you recommend?

  5. How fun! I am certainly going to try this.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this! I look forward to trying it. I’m going to investigate the rest of your blog now that I’ve seen this. :)

  7. true story — my mom came into school when i was in first grade with homemade butter churners made out of peanut butter jars and we all made butter. i can’t testify to whether or not it was any good, but this post just brought back that crazy memory.

  8. Thanks for answering my question. I have used the mixer before and it seemed to take around 25 minutes total time, and everything was as it should have been. I think I’ll try it again without adding salt until it’s finished and see how it goes…maybe using the food processor. ;)

  9. I frequently use a stand mixer to make butter – it usually takes maybe 15 minutes with the whisk attachment on 8 or so. I’m so glad I came across with this post, as well as your oat soda bread, because coming soon to a kitchen near me is freshly baked oat soda bread with homemade honey butter.

  10. Wow! I never knew you can make butter at home and I’m amazed at this super simple recipe! Jen, thank you so much for inspiring me to make things from scratch! I love all of your recipes! :)

  11. Cannot believe it is so easy, will be prefect with the oat soda bread! :)

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