Thursday, March 4, 2010

Well, butter me up and call me Sally!

I was reading recently about making homemade seasoned butter, and this has been on my list of "Things To Do" (seen at the bottom of this blog). So I decided that it was time. I had planned on writing about my experience on Homemakers Who Work, but it seems that I missed my day on there. Doh!

So here we are. Just the two of us. And soon what will be about a pound of butter.

First I figured I'd better get the herbs and seasonings ready to go, so the butter didn't get too soft while I did prep work.

I had decided ahead of time that I would divide the butter up into three batches, flavored three ways. One small batch would be flavored with chives and rosemary...

...another small batch would be flavored with Basil, sea salt, and garlic...

...and a larger batch sweetened with honey and orange rind and a few blueberries.

So I got that stuff all ready to go, and then I got to work. The directions said to use organic cream (heavy cream or whipping cream was okay), and that it would take about 10 minutes of beating on medium with an electric mixer for the butter and buttermilk to separate. Perhaps because I have a 20-year-old mixer that I got when I got married, it took me more like 15 minutes.

So I poured two pints of heavy organic cream into a mixing bowl, and set the mixer on medium speed.

After a few minutes, it's started to thicken a little.

Then it started to sort of "rise" and got "fluffy" and foamy on the edges.

Then it started getting really light, similar to whipped cream. This was probably about 10 minutes into it, which is when it was supposed to be at the butter stage.

I decided to up the speed a notch on the mixer, thinking that it's old age may make it less powerful. Within a couple of minutes, it began to look sort of like ricotta cheese.

Then it resembled egg salad.

Then it finally began to separate.

First I had to pour off as much of the milk as I could. I used a strainer to do this, and poured the buttermilk into a container to use for cooking. I put the butter back in the bowl, and began pressing and kneading it against the sides of the bowl, to strain out more of the milk.

After I had squeezed all the buttermilk I could out of it, I then took about 3/4 cup of ice water (I just put about 3/4 water in a measuring cup and put some ice cubes in it) and poured that in with the butter. This is supposed to be a "wash".

It washes out all of the impurities and such and helps to keep the butter from spoiling.

The first batch of water was very cloudy, and you keep kneading the butter in the water, pouring out the cloudy water and adding fresh ice water, until the water comes out clear.

After I had finished with the butter, I divided it into three batches for the seasonings. I mixed in the herbs and spices...

...drizzled on the honey...

...and I had me some seasoned butter!

I put a few tablespoons in the frig for immediate use (should be used within one week). I used the Blueberry-Orange Honey Butter on Belgian waffles I made using the buttermilk leftover from the butter-making project. And I used some more of it today on a whole wheat bagel with some leftover blueberry syrup. Tonight I will use some of the seasoned butter (don't remember if it's the basil-sea salt or the rosemary-chive) on sauteed veggies.

The rest of the butter was rolled into logs in parchment paper and wrapped in foil, and then stuck in the freezer for safe-keeping, where it should keep 4-6 months.

This was a great experience, and I can definitely see me doing this again. It's great knowing that the butter is fresh, without all of the preservatives of butter or margarine from the store, I can season the butter to my taste, and then I have the buttermilk for baking to boot. You just can't beat it!


Anonymous said...

I love this! I've never seen such a thing, but definitely need to try it at home.