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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cultured Butter

by Panda

Cultured butter.  Hmm, yes.  Pish posh.  Crumpets and such.

After reading a blog post by Michael Rhulman about cultured butter, I decided that this would be a great thing to try making.  The process for making butter is actually very simple. In fact, it's simpler than making whipped cream.  Why?  Because when you make whipped cream, you need to stop whipping the cream when it reaches the right consistency.  If you whip it too long, you actually end up with butter.

So, why cultured butter?  The taste.  While butter itself is delicious, cultured butter is simply in another league.  It's flavor is more complex and satisfying than its uncultured counterpart. The process for making cultured butter involves an extra step, which is to culture the cream.  This involves adding a friendly bacteria to the cream, much like the process for making yogurt.  Typically you would want to use cultured buttermilk as your starter, but, since we didn't have any, I decided to use some Greek yogurt we had on hand instead.

Simply pour your cream into a container with an air-tight lid.  Add a few tbsp of your starter (yogurt, keffir, buttermilk - whatever you happen to have), and stash this in a warm (not hot) place for 12-24 hours.  My particular culture took about a day and a half to set up; it may take more or less time, depending on the temperature.  Heating the cream to 110F first would probably speed the process up.

Cream culture after ~36 hours.
You'll notice that the mixture is pretty thick when it's ready.  It's best to cool this mixture for around an hour in the fridge before whipping; cold cream whips much easier than warm cream.  Attempting to make butter with warm cream would still work, but it would take a while.  Less time for eating is never a good thing.

Once the mixture is cooled, connect your paddle attachment to your mixer and mix away at around medium speed.  The mixture should start to thicken slightly (like you're making whipped cream).  Eventually, you will notice chunks starting to form.  The point at which it changes from cream to butter happens pretty quickly; change the speed on your mixer if you notice buttermilk starting to slosh out of the bowl.

Whip it.  Whip it good.  When some cream comes along, you must whip it. 
Buttermilk and butter.
Once your mixture has changed into butter, line a colander with some cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, and then set that inside of a large bowl.  Pour the buttermilk + butter mixture into your colander.  I found that wrapping the cloth around the butter and ringing the buttermilk out of it worked very well.  Save the buttermilk!  It can be used for baking!

The last step is to rinse your butter.  This is a fairly important step; any buttermilk left over in the butter will cause the butter to go bad much faster.  I found that the easiest way to do this was to simply dump the butter into a bowl of cold water and knead it around; change the water a few times if you notice that the water is still cloudy.  Remove your butter and drain off any excess water.

Ringing out the buttermilk.
Boosh.  Butta.

You're done!  Pack your butter into some air tight containers.  At this stage we decided to separate it into two batches - one with salt, and one without.  The salted batch will be used for buttering bread and biscuits, and the unsalted batch will be used by Mango for baking.

Mango: You made butter.
Panda: Yes.
Mango: BUTTER.
Panda: Yes.
Mango: Let's quit our jobs and pay our bills in bread and butter.
Panda: Okay.

1 comment:

  1. Butter is the foundation of goodness. You have created a fountain of everlasting tastiness. Congratulations.