Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Thing Just Leads Into Another - Butter!

Working at a co-op means I basically work at a grocery store. (Basically). One of the perks of working in such a place, is that expired food is often up for grabs to the staff - and grab it we do (it also helps to be nice to the guys in grocery. They're nice guys anyway, but it's nice to get the headsup when stuff goes out of date and becomes available to us vultures).

A few weeks ago 6 pints of Organic (co-op!) Heavy Whipping Cream went out of date. One of the grocery guys who I've become friends with came up and off-handedly asked me if I wanted them. Umm. Yes. He looked at me like I was insane, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to make butter with the spawn. Besides, homemade butter is SUPER tasty, and unless you've got farmer friends, get a realy good deal at a farmers' market, or you come into some out of date cream, who's gonna spend the money on cream just to MAKE butter?

It's totally worth it, mind you.

But I digress. Back to butter.

First: get a butter churn. You can also use a mason jar and shake, but let's face it. This is tiring, and not nearly as fun as this:

The Modern Butter Churn. Or a stand mixer, if you will
Then pour in the cream, turn that puppy on, and stand back. I also drape a towel around the bowl as I have a tendency to skip the low and medium settings and go straight for high, thus sending cream all over everywhere.

I might have to interject that you really can't screw this up - in fact, if you've ever screwed up whipped cream and gotten a dry mass, or worse, a broken mass, then you've already embarked upon the journey of butter making. Relax. You got this.

Whipped Cream.
 If, at this point in time you remebered that you have some berries, fruit, cake, or some such item that may need a whipped embellishment then feel free to scoop some out and take a tea break. Otherwise hold your horses, you're not done yet.

And now the Whipped Cream is starting to look dry....
 Keep going.

You can kind of see liquid pooling up...this is buttermilk.
You'll see yellow clumps forming up here and there amongst a pool of white liquid. This, my friends, is what you've been waiting oh so patiently (yeah - like 5 minutes if you've used a mixer) for. The yellow clumps are butter. The white liquid is buttermilk. This is NOT the cultured buttermilk that you can buy, and unfortunately is an uncommon item here in the west. I love it. I use it in all sorts of baked goods. Umm. Yum.

Next up: strain the buttermilk out from the butter. (and save the buttermilk!). I put a strainer over a (usually too small bowl), line it with a floursack towel (traditionally butter muslin or real cheesecloth. Do not use 'cheesecloth' bought at the supermarket. We will no longer be friends.). Then instead of patiently waiting for most of the liquid to strain out, I gather the corners and squeeze, getting all of the buttermilk out of the butter, and a fair amount of it all over my counter.

Strained, unwashed butter
You still have another step before you can devour said butter. You gotta wash it. That sounds weird, but when you've just strained it it's still got pockets of buttermilk here and there, and they'll make the butter go rancid rather quickly and you don't want that.

What I do is put the butter in a bowl, run cold water into it, knead it a few times with my hands, rinse, repeat. After 2 or 3 times the water will run off clear - and then you're done!

Washing, washing.
 Then strain. Again.

 At this point you can add salt if you want. Or herbs, if you feel the need to really go for it. I love salted butter, but have a tendency to leave this stuff unsalted - so I can put a big pat of it on warm bread and srpinkle some salt on top. (OK. Wishing I had some now!)

One thing tends to lead to another, and now that you've made tasty tasty butter, and you have tasty tasty buttermilk, you gotta make tasty tasty bread.

I make cloverleaf rolls out of the Joy of Cooking, but this recipe is similar. The main difference seems to be that JOC uses butter, not shortening (butter!). Regardless, you're replacing the milk in the recipe for the buttermilk you just made. I ALSO highly recommend making pancakes with said buttermilk. Awesome.

I am one of those people that insists on making everything from scratch once. Be it bread, soap, pickles, whathaveyou - so I urge you to try making butter once, if you aven't already. And if you have - then revisit it! So much fun!

Oh - and I ended up making the butter myself and without the Spawn, although he and the Man both thoroughly enjoyed the final product. I did tell the little guy all about the process, and much to his boredom and my surprise - his class ended up making butter at school the next day. Hehe.


Anonymous said...

Woah that grocery guy seems pretty cool.

caitlinvb said...

Pretty sure our grocery guy is the best. Especially when he brings me contraband snacks from Zack's :)

Samantha Bangayan said...

YUM! I had no idea it was so easy with a mixer. =P