When I hear the phrase "homemade butter," I picture life on a farm, some kind of wooden apparatus, and hours spent churning - in a gingham dress, no doubt. This project blew my mind - it took only minutes! And minimal supplies! No prairie dress required...in fact you could make this in your underwear. Not that I'd recommend that. Trust me - just grab a Ball jar and some cream and whip yourself some butter. It is immensely satisfying (and delicious, of course, because, well, it's butter). It has conjured up some kind of Laura Ingalls Wilder fantasy from my childhood...I feel as proud as if I churned for hours. This recipe goes for whipped cream as well, because whipped cream happens just one step sooner than butter happens. So if dessert is what you have in mind, follow the steps below as well.
HOMEMADE BUTTER (or whipped cream):
- 1 glass jar with tightly fitting lid
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 tsp of salt (*for whipped cream: 1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, optional)
- Choose a jar large enough that your cream only fills 1/2 to 3/4 of it. The more room there is for the cream to slosh around, the less muscle work it takes to shake it. Pour the cream into the jar and lid it.
- Shake, shake, shake. I alternated between shaking long-wise (cocktail shaker style) and short-wise (holding the jar horizontally). Shake some more.
- After 3-5 minutes, whipped cream will form. You won't be able to see into the jar, because the cream will totally white-out the sides. But you can feel the change of texture when there is no more liquid sloshing. You can open and check the texture, then re-lid it and keep shaking if necessary.
- If making whipped cream, stop here and fold in sugar and vanilla, if using (makes about 3 cups)....directions con't below
- ...If making butter, keep shaking.
- After 3 or 4 more minutes, you'll notice you can see the cream pulling away from the sides of the jar and turning yellower (below, left). After another minute or so, the cream will begin to solidify even more (below, right).
- After 3 or 4 more minutes of shaking (are your arms sore yet?), the butter will be more solid and yellow, and you'll see a liquid separate from the clump (that's buttermilk!)
- Pour buttermilk into a small container and reserve for another use. Scrape the butter into a serving dish. I yielded 1 cup of butter and 3/4 a cup of buttermilk from the 2 cups of cream.
I have made whipped cream in this way before and it took longer than 5 minutes. I think the reason is that I was using a plastic container without much extra room for shaking. Because we're dealing with chemistry here (what you're doing is separating the fat of the cream from the liquid), it can be finicky business. If you're following the times above and the cream isn't thickening, don't panic - just keep shaking. If all else fails, just keep shaking. One thing is certain: if you shake it, it will come. Just consider the extra shaking time your bonus workout for the day (it's kind of appropriate to work for our butter, don't you think?).
The problem with making homemade butter is that it makes it all the more tempting to spread butter on any manner of breads and toasts and to eat them.
Go pretend you're on Little House on the Prairie and enjoy!
(all images, Jamie Grill Photography)