thanksgiving: homemade butter + buttermilk

October 21st, 2009

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.

Comments: 17 Total

  1. Shaw Girl

    October 21, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Hahaha! I have a post about making butter I was going to publish next week! I guess great minds think alike?

  2. corin

    October 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I am definitely doing this this weekend! Thanks for the easy blow-by-blow.

  3. buhdoop

    October 21, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Thank you! I love homemade butter. We used to make it in a churn (i think that’s what it’s called) when I was little. I will definitely try this this year.

  4. Melody

    October 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    This brings back memories! I remember my teacher in kindergarten having us to take turns shaking heavy cream in little baby food jars. She then gave us some really good bread, and we all had our snack right there. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!

    Thank you. I’m totally going to have to relive my childhood now…

  5. Rachelle

    October 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I also made butter a while ago. I made pancakes with the buttermilk and they were the best pancakes I have ever had. Really looking forward to your biscuit recipe.

  6. tigress

    October 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    i love making homemade butter and make it every week. i do it the old fashion way -shaking the jar. very excited to see the milk thistle does heavy cream. i love that milk! (I usually butterworks or evan’s).

    and buttermilk biscuits, forgeaboutit! hands down, best pairing with homemade jam!

  7. Ashley in NC

    October 22, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Thank you so much for this! Hopefully Whole Foods will have some local, organic heavy cream on hand. My boyfriend and I are going to make homemade butter and buttermilk biscuits on Saturday for breakfast… we will be waiting for your biscuit recipe!

  8. lydia j

    October 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I’ve been making my own butter for years but never thought of saving the butter milk! That’s just genius:)

    I’m SO making those biscuits tonight as a try-out for my first solo Thanksgiving dinner. Crossing my fingers that my barely-there baking skills don’t fail me!

  9. Jernej

    October 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    How much fat does the heavy cream have? Where I live we don’t have that much choice – just cream for making whipped cream (it’s around 32% fat).

  10. aunt nancy

    October 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    glad to see the post about the homemade butter:)
    going to let Liz and Brian’s little boy try the old-fashioned way in a jar.

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