"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Today We Make Butter...and Buttermilk!

Ok, I may already have a post on here somewhere about making butter.  In fact, I'd say it's pretty likely.  However, I can't find it so I'm going to blog about butter anyway.  I mean, butter is kind of like bacon, it may not be good for us but we love it all the same.  Why bother making it at home, you might ask?  Well, for the love of butter of course!  Butter made at home is generally made of higher quality cream for less money. It's customizable.  You want honey butter?  Done.  You want rosemary and thyme butter?  Done. Garlic butter?  You betcha.  Plus it's easier than you might think.  You don't have to dress in colonial era clothing and spend all afternoon toiling away at a butter churn. So let's get on with it.

 Step 1: Add heavy cream to your mixer bowl.  I used cream from our cows but if you don't have that luxury you can always get some from your local grocery store.  If you want organic, by all means, go for it.  If you have a dairy down the road where you can buy your cream good and fresh all the better.  But even if you have to go with plain old heavy cream from the refrigerator aisle of your local Walmart you'll still be doing just fine. 

Step 2: Mix away until your cream starts to thicken.  Start on low unless you want to be cleaning cream off your walls, counters, fridge, and everything else in your kitchen.   Once it thickens some you can turn up the juice.  You could stop here, at the point of the above picture, and you could add a little vanilla, fold in some confectioners sugar and you would have wonderful homemade whipped cream perfect for your hot cocoa or anything else you want whipped cream on but that is for another day and another post.  Right now, we're making butter so we move on.   
Step 4: Keep mixing.  A short time after the whipped cream stage, and I mean a very short time, you will start to notice a change in your bowl.  The cream will separate into two components, liquid buttermilk and solid butter fat.  At this point you've hit paydirt!  You're butter is officially churned.  

Step 5: It's time to get your hands dirty.  You need to reach in there and mash the butterfat together into a ball.  Reserve the liquid left behind, DO NOT THROW IT OUT.  It's honest to goodness, actual factual, buttermilk.   Grab up your butter ball and place it in a clean bowl or you can use cheesecloth if you have that.  

Step 6: Rinse.  You'll want to put your bowl with your ball of butter under a running faucet of clean water.  Rinse and squeeze your butter then dump the water.  Repeat this process until the water in your bowl is clear and clean. Squeeze out any and all remaining liquid.  This is an important step because it will help keep your butter from going rancid.   At this point you can add salt, I usually only add a pinch, if you want salted butter.  You can also add honey, garlic, herbs or anything else that you think would make for good flavored butter if you'd like.  

Step 7: Pack it up.   You can put your finished butter in a small mason jar and store it in your fridge if you like or you can roll it into a log in some plastic wrap if you prefer.  You can store it in the freezer as well, just put it into a freezer safe container or take your log in your plastic wrap and place it in a ziploc freezer bag.   For the butter milk you'll want to run it through a strainer and put it in a clean mason jar and store it in your fridge.  It'll be ready to use for your next batch of buttermilk pancakes.