06 August 2012

Homemade Butter with a Mixer

Even though I am a Southern girl through and through, I have never lived on a farm.  As a matter of fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I have set foot on a farm.  I cannot recall ever having laid hands on a churn, so making homemade butter is a pretty foreign concept for me.

I know the basics of butter-making mechanics -- agitate heavy cream until the fat separates from the liquid.  I figured I could do it with my Kitchenaid and I was right.  It only took about 20 minutes.  Then I stood back from my big bowl of homemade butter and said "Look, Ma!  No hands!"

So this post is a little different from all the others so far.  No recipe.  No measurements.  No times.  No precision.  This is all about just sitting and watching your mixer do the work for you while the great transformation from cream to butter happens.

Start with heavy whipping cream.  It doesn't matter how much you have, so long as it's enough for your mixer to turn to whipped cream.  Keep in mind that this is one of those cases where the quality of your ingredients really determine the quality of the final product.  Splurge and use some good quality cream.  The higher quality the cream is, the better your butter will taste.

whipped cream
Pour the cream into the bowl of your mixer and put on the whisk attachment.  Start with the mixer on a relatively low speed until the cream starts to thicken; gradually increase the speed as you can without the cream splashing out of the bowl.  Eventually you can get it going pretty fast.  My mixer has settings 1-10; I got it up to an 8 and left it there.

cream starting to get lumpy
First your heavy cream will turn to whipped cream.  If you wanted whipped cream to serve with a dessert, this is the point where you would add powdered sugar and stop.  If you want butter leave the mixer alone and keep whipping.  After about 5 minutes, your whipped cream will start getting a little bit lumpy.  At this point, I stopped my mixer and took the opportunity to scrape down the sides of my bowl with a spatula.  During this stage I started to lose hope that my mixer would actually make butter for me.  It seemed like it took forever.  Don't give up -- the butter will happen.  As soon as the solids start to separate you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Those clumps are little bits of butter starting to come together.

fat and liquid separated
Within a couple of minutes of seeing those first little clumps start to come together, the fat and liquid will really begin to separate.  At this point, you will want to turn down the speed of your mixer or the liquid will start sloshing about everywhere.  I set mine to a 2.  Don't stop mixing yet.  The fats will still be separate little blobs.  That's how you can tell it's not time to quit.

About a minute after your liquid separates from the fat all those little blobs will start to come together into a cohesive mass.  You can turn off the mixer when the butter comes together in your whisk as a semi-sold mass.

butter in the sieve, buttermilk in the
 bowl below
Scrape your butter and all the liquid into a mesh sieve placed over a bowl.  Press your butter down and scrape around on the sieve with a rubber spatula to get all the liquid out of the butter.  Let the butter sit in the sieve over the bowl for about 15 minutes to let the last little bit of liquid drip out.

If you want flavored butter, this is where you would add those ingredients.  Move your butter back into the bowl of the mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix in anything you would like.  You can add a little salt, some herbs, dried fruit, fruit preserves, lemon zest, chopped nuts, spices, hot sauce, etc....

Pour the liquid from your butter making in a lidded bowl or jar.  It's buttermilk.  You can drink it or use it in recipes just like the stuff you get from the grocery store.

Let me know if you make any fabulous butter.  If you try it, I wanna hear about it.  I'm still trying to decide what to do with mine.  I'll let you know soon.

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