Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fresh Butter

What's sweet and creamy and delicious homemade?

That ain't vanilla ice cream! But it's just as lucious and decadent.

It seems strange that I've gone so far as to render lard, and yet I haven't made an even easier fat that's just as -- if not more -- delicious. I am, of course, talking about butter.

I've thought about it before. I've nearly made it a couple of times -- by accident -- when I was making whipped cream and stopped paying attention for a few seconds. I'd look at the thicker-than-I-prefer whipped cream and wonder, if I let this go on a few more minutes, would it turn into butter?

The answer is yes. It's just as simple to make butter as you might think. And with the advent of the food processor, it's so ridiculously easy that I'm not sure why more people don't do it. Maybe all it takes is hearing that someone else did it -- my impetus was a LJ entry someone had made to the food_porn community -- in which case, consider this my good deed for the day, if this post makes even one person try to make their own butter.

Directions: Take one pint of heavy whipping cream, the fresher and colder, the better. Pour it into a food processor (a Magic Bullet, blender, or even just pouring it into a cold bowl and using a hand mixer would work as well). Pulse on high until the liquid cream becomes light whipped cream, then thick whipped cream, then a bunch of curds that sort of resembles watery scrambled eggs, then finally, butter. The remaining liquid is buttermilk -- but sweet and wonderful, quite unlike the buttermilk you buy in stores. Strain the buttermilk out, through a strainer or cheesecloth (which you can use to squeeze out more buttermilk from the butter), and save for a later purpose. Rinse the butter with water until it runs clear, to make sure that all the buttermilk is gone.

Once you've got your finished butter, which will be a light yellow in color, you can season it how you like. Add salt, garlic, honey, herbs, whatever you like. I plan to portion mine off so I have a good variety of butter, to see what I like best.

This site recommends that you store your butter with water to keep it tasting its freshest by keeping air out. And here's a handy conversion: 1 pint of cream = 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) + 1 cup buttermilk.

Fresh butter tastes light and sweet and wonderful, and has a pure, clean flavor that just can't be matched by store-bought butter. Really -- try it yourself! As for what I did with my butter first, I mixed 3 tablespoons with some salt and spread a generous portion onto a slice of toast (homemade Norwich sourdough), and, well, words can't do it justice. Maybe a picture will help.

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