thanksgiving: homemade butter + buttermilk
Last year I totally flaked on Thanksgiving recipes for eatmakeread, so this year I thought I’d get a major head start and begin the sharing in October. After all, sharing with your favorite people is what Thanksgiving is all about, right?
I’m starting the whole shebang out with homemade butter and buttermilk, a tradition that my cousin Katie always made sure we had at Grandma CB’s table. Katie went the old-fashioned route and shook the butter by hand in a jar, but I’m going to cheat a bit by using the food processor. The food processor makes the whole process ridiculously easy and with only one ingredient to make two Thanksgiving essentials, you’re going to wonder why you haven’t tried this sooner.
As I mentioned earlier, butter is made with one simple ingredient, heavy cream. Of course you can add other ingredients like salt or even sour cream, but in it’s purest form it all starts and ends with cream. Use the best cream you can find, particularly cream from grass fed cows since that will bring more flavor to the butter.
The cream makes an incredible transformation, usually in less than 5 minutes if you use a food processor. You can start with whatever amount of cream you’d like, I usually use about a cup, which will yield 1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk and about a sticks worth of butter. I’ve illustrated the different phases that you’ll see.
1) the cream in it’s natural creamy state.
2) about 2.5 minutes into the process, the cream is in the whipped cream state. at this point it’s past the soft peak stage and holds a stiff peak (basically it keeps it’s form).
3) about 3.5-4 minutes into the process, the cream is just past the whipped cream state where it’s looking a little ugly and thinking about separating.
4) about 4.5 minutes into the process, the cream naturally starts to turn yellow as the buttermilk separates from the butter. I let the processor run for about a minute after it starts separating to get as much buttermilk as I can.
And that’s how butter is made.
You still have one a few more steps before you’re really ready, but that was pretty neat, right?
First you’ll want to squeeze all the buttermilk out that you can. It’s best to do this with cold hands so the butter doesn’t melt as fast. You’ll want to pour the buttermilk in a bowl or jar and store it until you’re ready to use it. Once you think you’ve got all the buttermilk you can possibly get, rinse the butter under cold water, folding it back and forth for a few minutes. I like to fold left to right, then top to bottom. The goal is to get all the excess pockets of buttermilk out of the butter because it will cause the butter to spoil quicker. Once the butter is well rinsed, pat it dry with a paper towel or cheese cloth, then place it on a piece of parchment and roll it into a little log. Pop it in the fridge and start thinking about what you’re going to use it in or on.
May I suggest saving the buttermilk and some of the butter for the most delicious biscuits that have ever touched my lips? Strong statement, I know, but these puppies blew me away. Look for them tomorrow…
Also, thanks to Megan at Brooklyn Farmhouse for her helpful insight into butter-making at the Brooklyn Skillshare.