Making homemade butter

Years ago I volunteered at a living history pioneer farm and learned a lot of skills from the 1850’s, including how to churn butter. It was so tasty!

Lynn Blanchard is the test kitchen director for Better Homes and Gardens. She says if you'd like to try making butter but don't have farm-fresh milk, purchased cream will do fine. One-quart will make about one-pound of butter. Pour the cream into a blender, mixer, or food processor, and as it whirrs around, you'll see a transformation.

"You'll notice that the butterfat will separate out from the buttermilk, if you will, and you'll start to see a real watery liquid.  In a blender it will go really fast.  In a food processor it will go quickly too," says Blanchard. "You'll just see the butter start to come together and form. In a mixer it takes just a little bit longer."

You can also make butter in a jar, which is a fun project for kids. Shake the cream vigorously for about 10 minutes and you'll have a lump of butter.

When you're finished, the buttermilk has to be removed or the butter will taste sour. An easy way is to line a strainer with a cheesecloth, and pour in the butter mixture so the buttermilk can drain off. 

"One reason for doing it with the cheesecloth is because you'll want to knead it even a little more, and so by kneading it within the cheesecloth, that just squeezes out a little extra liquid," she says. "And then there's a step that's called washing your butter, which helps you to remove all of the extra buttermilk and it actually allows your butter to store longer, too."

Be sure to save the buttermilk for baking. It's great for making pancakes and biscuits. Leave the butter unsalted, or salt it to your taste. Blanchard says sea salt or kosher salt will give it more of a pure flavor. Store the butter in a covered container in the fridge for 2-to-3-weeks.