Tuesday, May 29, 2012

like buttah

When it comes to experiments in the kitchen, I prefer minimal effort for maximum results (see last week's homemade ricotta adventures).  And when these experiments involve a split second where one thing margically transforms into something else, so much the better.

On Saturday after a morning of errands at the Boyce Farmer's Market, Aura Whole Foods and Victory Meat market, I decided to spend some time in the kitchen before heading into the garden to finish planting the veg.   Ninety minutes later I had a couple of bars of lavender soap, a batch of chem-free Henry-friendly bug spray, hibiscus syrup for drinks (based on the lavender syrup here) and two containers of butter and a cup or so of buttermilk.

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time you know that I like old-timey things.  One of the happiest weeks of my childhood was spent here where I willingly swept out stables at dawn and slept on a straw tick mattress. 

So when my friend Jilanna sent me a blogpost that included a link to making your own butter I became possessed by the idea.  I used the recipe from eating from the ground up and I recommend reading Alana's post because she took more pictures than I did and also it's just very entertaining.  I particularly like that she is very pragmatic about the fact that we don't make butter at home because it is more economical.   It's about the satisfaction of making something yourself.  Also because it is delicious. And I'm willing to pay three bucks for that.

(Although on a practical note, I will say that it is sometimes easier to find heavy cream than unsalted butter in this city so there is definitely a good reason to know how to do this.)

So here is the big trick to making butter at home.

1. Dump 16 oz of whipping cream and 1/2  a teaspoon of kosher salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Turn on the mixer.   I just used a hand-mixer which probably took a few more minutes than a Kitchen Aid stand mixer but was hardly onerous.
3. Watch and be amazed - first you'll get whipped cream (resist the temptation to make stop here and make shortcakes), then over-whipped cream (a kitchen tragedy we've all experienced) and then a few minutes later in a split second and like magic, it breaks and you suddenly find yourself with hunks of golden butter swimming in butter milk.Stop mixing.
4. Strain the buttermilk off into a jar for using in pancakes or biscuits.
5. Squeeze all the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.  Rinse in cold water and squeeze.  Repeat until all the buttermilk has been squeezed out.

I split my butter into two small wooden cheese boxes I had on hand.  I mixed one with chopped basil for an herb butter and one I left plain.  And that's all there is to it!

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