Cultured Butter

6 Apr

For ages, my boyfriend has been suggesting that we should try making our own butter.  I think he was imagining us in a pastoral setting, me with braids in my hair  and petticoats around my waist, and us taking turns at an old fashioned butter churn.  I finally took Mike up on his invitation last month, following the directions in Sandor Katz’s book, The Art of Fermentation.  The process was exceedingly simple.  I’m sure it would be much more romantic with an old fashioned butter churn, but I used my modern Kitchen Aid mixer to the job for me instead.  It took just a few minutes to churn the butter this way.  The following recipe is for cultured butter.


Butter churn Français : Baratte

An old fashioned French butter churn. Photo credit to wikipedia.

Cultured Butter

(makes one cup of butter, and one cup of buttermilk)

Step One:  Culture your cream, making crème fraîche.  

Take a pint of raw heavy cream, and leave it at room temperature for a day or two. My kitchen is still pretty chilly, so I put mine in my oven with a pilot light, which kept it a little warmer than if it was on the counter. The cream will start to ferment itself, and will thicken.  Raw cream sours in the presence of it’s own enzymes.

Pasteurized cream will not sour on its own, as the pasteurization process denatures some of the necessary enzymes for that process: it will go rancid instead.  If you do not have raw cream: heat your cream to 185 degrees to kill bacteria in the milk. Once the milk has cooled down to 110 degrees, aka “blood warm,” add a couple tablespoons of buttermilk to your cream.  This will inoculate the cream with the organisms you need to ferment it properly.  Now leave this cream at room temperature for a couple days until it thickens.

You now have crème fraîche

Step Two: agitate the crème fraîche


The whipped cream is solidifying and the butter solids are separating from the buttermilk.

Put your cultured cream into a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment and put it on a relatively high setting, keeping an eye on it.  It will turn into sort of a whipped cream first, and then it will solidify into butter.  The liquid left over is buttermilk.  If you don’t have a mixer, you could do this by hand.  One way is to put it in a jar, and shake the jar until the cream solidifies.  You can then feel less guilty about eating butter if you are one to worry about calories, because you just did a big arm workout!

Now you have butter and buttermilk.  Separate your two new elements, squeezing as much of the buttermilk as possible out of your butter.


The butter and buttermilk, side-by-each, as the French might say.


Step Three:  Make pancakes! 

Or, whatever else your heart desires.  




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