Churning Your Dairy Game Up a Notch By Making Small-Batch Butter

Imagine the satisfaction of baking a fresh batch of dinner rolls and serving them butter you made out of the kitchen.

Nothing like that smug satisfaction of being able to make delicious homemade food, right?

Your guests will probably be amazed at how you can serve such fresh and tasty butter at home, using only a kitchen mixer or good old elbow grease.

In addition to that, the entire family can get in the act, and makes for a great family bonding experience, not to mention a superb way to teach children the science behind it. Making butter translates well to the classroom, whether your students are young scientists, or adult learners seeking to earn another income and go into business by selling it.

As the old adage goes, there is no better way to learn by doing it yourself, so let’s get started!

The Formula

Good butter starts from good cream. You can use any readily-available whipping cream that is already available in stores, but if you have access to fresh cream, the better. Different creams will make different butter depending on the fat content. The same is true for the time you need to mix or shake the butter, the amount of butter you create, and the end product. The following ingredients are all you will need.

1 pint/2 cups of heavy whipping cream (whipped cream from the Straus Family Creamery is my choice, with 35% butterfat)
a bowl of ice water
sea salt to taste
a stand mixer, a hand mixer/blender, or a mason jar

You may add a combination of salt or herbs to this recipe, but everything you see above is all you’ll ever need.

The Process

Take your cream into your preferred device. If you’re using an electric mixer, attach the splatter guard, and start whipping it on low speed, gradually raising it to medium speed. You should see it eventually into whipped cream with stiff peaking from the mixer; keep it going until the cream breaks down. If you use a stand mixer, on the other hand, you should see the butter forming to the beater itself. This is butterfat separating from the buttermilk. The whole process takes about 10 to 15 minutes; once the butter has formed into a chunk, remove the buttermilk and save it for fried chicken or to drink, and place the butter into a bowl. Rinse it with the ice water by pouring it on top, and pressing what’s left of the buttermilk out of it with a spoon; discard the liquid. Repeat until the pressed liquid is clear. Form butter into a ball and knead in your salt or herbs to taste. Wrap it in plastic, and voila! Fresh butter.

Using jars will require more work as you will need to shake it until butter forms on the sides of the jar; this is a better method to use in class for children to learn the process of emulsion.

The Science

Emulsion occurs when you agitate the jar or the cream; particles of fat then slam and stick to each other. The end product of all that agitation is butter. This is a great way to put science into practice, especially in the classroom – I suggest you use smaller containers with a marble in them to hasten the butter production process (especially when working with kids).

Making fresh, delicious butter is nothing more than agitating cream; it’s a great way to teach children about science, a great way to supplement income, and a great way to experience the joy of doing it yourself. You may never need to buy butter in the stores again.