Is there anything better than butter? It would be hard to argue that butter wouldn’t rise to the top of anyone’s culinary list. It makes sauces velvety, breadcrumbs crunchy, ice cream rich. If that isn’t enough, its delicious all on its own.
We have however, allowed butter to be pressed into the hands of industry (not that industry doesn’t have its place). As most ingredients these days, butter has become…bland. At one point in history, making your own butter was not an uncommon thing. My great-grandparents always made their own butter, it was just something you did. In our time, making your won butter doesn’t sound like it makes a lot of sense on the surface. However, making something as primitive as butter can be very rewarding. Something about taking a raw product and turning it into a great ingredient. There is a connection to that product, and to history that is hard to describe. Or maybe thats just me.
If your asking yourself “Whats the point? Can it really be that much better than the fancy, expensive butter at your supermarket? The answer is yes. I have been experimenting with cultured butter. Cultured butter has had live bacteria added to it before it is churned. Our little microscopic friends, bacteria, can add some serious flavor to your butter, Flavor that is almost grassy, dare I say gamey? I know the word gamey scares away a lot of my fellow Americans, but it shouldn’t. The food industry has done their best over the past 30 or so years to make food as tasteless as possible. I am here to fix that.
In the past few years, we’ve seen cultured or “European style” butter cream in the supermarket shelfs. Although this is a step in the right direction, it never compare to what you can make in your own kitchen, and its ridiculously easy to do.
To your favorite large mason jar, add the following:
2 Pints of Organic Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 Cup of Kefir Milk
Kefir Milk? Really? Is what you may be saying out loud. Because the cream you purchased has been pasteurized, all the bacteria is gone. So, we have to add some back in the form of Kefir Milk which has a jump start on the fermentation process. Although I find it hard to drink the stuff strait, its great in smoothies and has plenty of probiotics that are good for your gut. Buy the regular, unflavored version; if you like a little extra kick buy the greek version.
Combine all the above ingredients in the aforementioned jar and give it a good shake. Then top the jar with some cheese cloth and a rubber band or the ring from the Mason jar. I’ve also seen this done with a coffee filter, if you don’t want to dish out for cheese cloth. All that matters is that your cream can breathe, I really cannot stress enough the importance of breathing.
Now, find a nice cozy place and park your jar for at least two days. The longer you wait, the stronger the flavor will be. After two days, your cream will be thick and resemble butter cream icing. This is essentially creme fraiche and is delicious on its own, but were going to take it a step further.
Empty the contents of your jar into the bowl of your handy stand mixer. I turned mine up to 7 which seemed to do the trick. The cream will become thicker….before it totally breaks, which is what you want. It happens VERY fast, about four minutes. What you’ve just done is separate the fat from the buttermilk. Delicious, amazing buttermilk. Please don’t throw the buttermilk away, its for the sake of humanity.
Gather your big clump of butter and place it into a large bowl with some ice water. The leftover buttermilk in the butter will go rancid before the rest of the butter, so you need to get as much out as possible. Knead your butter in the bowl, changing the water occasionally until the water is clear, it will take four or five rounds to get it totally clean.
Once the water is clear, dump the water and ice. If you would like salted butter (and for this you should), this is the time to add it and knead it into the butter. So, salt to taste. If your curious, I managed to get about 3/4 lb of butter once it was all said and done.
From this point, you can wrap your butter in the medium of your choosing, I like wax paper, and store. Or, you can dig in. The butter is best at room temperature, on some bread. You can also add some herbs or garlic to create a pretty insane compound butter, but I wouldn’t blame you if you left it alone.
From the first bite, you will notice a huge difference in this and regular butter. The earthy notes really do complement a well-made bread such as Rye, Sourdough, or even a classic baguette. Not only are probiotics amazing for you, but this butter is free of anything, but butter that tastes delicious. This is the way butter is meant to be enjoyed (in my opinion).
Your ancestors would be proud of you I believe. Enjoy!