Here’s How to Make Your Own Butter By Hand, Without an Appliance
Living in a bread-baking (if not just bread-loving) world these days? Then it’s time to take the next step: DIY butter. Let’s be clear, though: Making your own butter is not a less expensive option, nor will it be faster. But it is more fun, a cool project for kids, and a skill worth having.
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Before we get to the how-to, here’s a central truth: When making butter, you'll need cream, and any fresh (not pasteurized) dairy cream will always taste better. You can use any heavy whipping cream, but if yours is ultra-pasteurized, I recommend adding a tablespoon of sour cream or crème fraiche for every cup of cream to help add that cultured flavor.
Also: Even if you want to make “unsalted” butter, add a pinch of salt. This will not make it salty, but it will enhance flavor. If you want to make “salted” butter, I recommend adding a pinch of salt in making and then more for flavor after the butter is finished.
Finally, always use room-temperature cream. Cold cream will eventually make butter, but it will take twice as long.
There are a few different methods, so I will give you the top three.
How to Make Butter Without an Appliance
All you need is cream, salt, a large Mason jar with a good seal, and some arm strength. If you shake cream and a pinch of salt in a sealed (very important to have a good seal here) large jar for about 10 minutes, eventually you will have a lump of butter floating in buttermilk. Magic!
This is a terrific addition to a homeschooling project if you have children, or if you are looking for a good pandemic upper arm workout. Be forewarned: Shaking something vigorously for ten minutes is harder than it sounds (I refer you to my ice cream in a bag experience). But go for it, and once you have the butter lump in your jar, place those solids into a small bowl. Save the buttermilk for baking or feeding your sourdough starter.
Now it’s time to “wash” the butter to remove all traces of buttermilk, which can make your butter spoil faster. Pour ice-cold water (doesn’t need to be icy, but out of the fridge or a really cold tap are useful) into the bowl and use your hands to squish it into the butter to wash it. Discard water and repeat rinsing at least 2 times more until the water runs clear. When the water runs clear, strain the butter and press in a cloth-lined sieve to remove all the excess water. Add more salt to taste if you want salted butter, wrap well and store in the fridge for up to a week.
How to Make Butter in a Stand Mixer
This takes the elbow grease out of the occasion. Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and pour 2 cups of cream (and any additions like your pinch of salt or sour cream or crème fraiche if using) into the bowl. Start the mixer slowly; gradually increase speed to 10 until the butter collects on the whisk and the buttermilk separates in the bottom of the bowl—anywhere from 3-10 minutes. Pour off the buttermilk, then wash and store your butter as per the above recipe.
How to Make Butter in a Blender
Your blender isn’t just for smoothies and piña coladas—it’s also great for butter making. Pour 1-2 cups of cream (and any additions like your pinch of salt or sour cream or crème fraiche if using) into your blender. Cover and blend on medium speed until the butterfat and buttermilk have separated. Depending on your cream, and the power of your blender, this could take as few as 3 or as many as 10 minutes. Don’t go faster than medium or you risk creating heat that can melt the butterfat.
Let sit for a few minutes for the two layers to settle, then drain off the buttermilk and reserve for baking or feeding your sourdough starter. Pour 2 cups of ice-cold water (doesn’t need to be icy, but out of the fridge or a really cold tap are useful) into the blender with the drained butterfat and pulse a few times. Drain and repeat until the water runs clear. When the water runs clear, strain the butter and press in a cloth-lined sieve to remove all the excess water. Add more salt to taste if you want salted butter, wrap well and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Now you just need to talk someone into making you a fresh loaf of sourdough!