Tag Archives: creme fraiche

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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Curds and Whey

25 May

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Many fermentation recipes involve the use of whey.  This is not the powder supplement you get in the stores.  Don’t try the recipes with that stuff:  the powder is not a living food with active enzymes and cultures, and it won’t make things ferment.  For another matter, I don’t advise eating whey powder at all.  It’s a processed food that’s been killed of any of its nutritive value besides being protein.

Whey is the liquid byproduct that comes from making cheese or many other cultured dairy products.  One of the easiest ways to get whey (no pun intended) is by straining yogurt.  This is very easy:  Take a container of plain yogurt, one with live-active cultures, and place it in a kitchen towel-lined strainer.  Fold the towel over the yogurt to protect it from dust and bugs, and put the strainer over a bowl.  Let the yogurt sit for a few hours or overnight, if you wish.  Yes, at room temperature.  It’s fine, really, I swear.  Yellow liquid will pass through the towel into the bowl.  That’s whey!  The stuff left in your towel is the curds.

Whey dripping from the towel-lined strainer to the bowl.

Straining turns your regular yogurt to the consistency of fancy Greek yogurt.  If you strain it long enough, it will become more like creme fraiche.  To make your curd the most dry, you can tie the ends of the towel around a wooden spoon or some other long skinny thing, and then hang that over a bigger pot.  Without the strainer to support the getup, gravity helps release even more of the liquid.   Keep the straining yogurt away from potential predators, for instance, one Very Interested Cat.

Very Interested Cat promises to disrupt my whey-making process.

Whey can last about 6 months in the fridge.  The curds may last a month.  Smell the whey, and if it smells “off” that’s a good measure of when to throw it out.  The curds are visually obvious:  they will get mold if you let them go.   Stay tuned for whey recipes on my blog in the future.  In the meantime, eat your curds on toast, with chives or jam.

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