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Author Notes: Making butter is such a wonderful example of process. When you find your own way of how to make or do something that works consistently for you, there is no greater discovery (and I'm not just talking about cooking or baking). There are obvious things like the butterfat content of the cream and the culturing that make the butter richer and of higher quality, but there is something more. There is something about the process of making that imparts magic in something from the very beginning. Something from the hands and from the heart. (This recipe was adapted from The Kitchn) —Sam
Makes about 2 lbs
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
- 1/2 gallon cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Ice water, for washing (optional)
- To culture the cream first, add the cup of yogurt to a container large enough to fit the cream. Combine the yogurt and the cream, place a coffee filter, towel or cheesecloth over the container, and let it ferment in a warm, draft free place (about 70-75 F) for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. You can tell when the cream has cultured because it will thicken and smell slightly tangy. Refrigerate your cream for at least an hour after fermentation before you make butter. The colder the better.
- To make butter, pour all of the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Lock your mixer into place and cover it with a clear plastic bag, plastic wrap, guard or a towel. You may get some splattering action, especially toward the end of churning. Begin to whip the cream on low speed to get things going and then slowly increase the speed to as high as you can without making a total mess.
- Let the mixture whip away for 5-10 minutes. You will see the cream thicken and increase in volume and then at the end the solids will separate from the liquid and you'll hear a lot of sloshing going around. At this point, place a large strainer lined over a bowl. Strain the solids from the liquids, pressing and squeezing the solids to release as much buttermilk as you can. You can save and use this buttermilk if your heart desires! Transfer the butter to a cloth and squeeze any excess buttermilk over the strainer.
- Once it is strained well, I advise washing your butter. It sounds crazy but it is well worth it. Washing your butter with ice water removes any excess buttermilk so that your butter will have a longer shelf life and make a more consistent product, especially if you plan to bake with it. What I like to do is place the butter in a bowl in the sink. Add about 1 cup of ice water to the butter and begin to press and massage it with your hand. You will see cloudy buttermilk release into the bowl. Discard the liquid and continue this process until the water runs clear. I like to do 10 washings every time, but 6 should suffice.
- If you would like to salt your butter, now is the time to do it. Sprinkle the salt over the clean butter and knead it in with your hands. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks to 1 month or it can be frozen.
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