Early in my teen years, my father bought about a dozen baby heifer calves from a dairy farmer and we raised them on a bottle. The dairy farmer used a Black Angus bull, so we had a dozen half Angus/half Holstein cows. These made fantastic cows. They produced large calves and gave lots of milk. They also had a very easy-going nature. Since they had been bottle fed and we spent a great deal of time with them when they were young, all of them were very gentle.
One of them, though, was even more tame than the rest. One day my father decided that he wanted to start milking that cow. We had never milked a cow before, but my father had as a child. Even though my father kept forty to fifty cows, his family had kept only three or four at a time when he was growing up. They always had a family milk cow and grew beef just for their own family. As a result, my father had always been accustomed to fresh milk, and years later he missed it.
The chosen cow adapted very easily to being milked and soon we had more milk than we could use. Of course that meant that we also had lots of cream. Soon we were making butter. When my father first said that we were going to make butter, I said, “How? We don’t even own a churn.” He quickly showed us that you don’t need one. A quart Mason jar will work just fine.
Back then we made great butter from fresh milk straight from the cow, but you don’t need your own milk cow to make butter. I just made some from store-bought heavy cream. Here is how it’s done.
First let the cream sit out on the countertop until it comes to room temperature. You can make butter with cold cream, but it will take a lot more time and shaking. The little particles of milk fat will stick together much more readily when the cream is warm. Some people say you should let the cream sit for several hours until it sours slightly to increase the acidity of the butter. I haven’t tried this, though, because the butter tastes great even without doing that.
After the cream is at room temperature, pour it into a quart jar and screw the lid on tightly. You will be shaking this quite a bit, so if the lid is not on tightly you will end up with cream all over yourself and everywhere else.
Now just start shaking the jar end to end. You don’t have to shake it fast, but shake it hard, slamming the cream into each end to the jar as you shake it back and forth. This action is what causes the fat particles to seperate from the water and stick to each other. After five to maybe thirty minutes, you will have big globs of soft butter floating in a thin watery white liquid. This liquid is the buttermilk, it is mostly water.
Now strain the butter through a piece of cheesecloth to seperate it from the buttermilk. You can use the buttermilk for baking or you can throw it away or feed it to your chickens.
Now use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much of the buttermilk as you can. Then wash the butter in ice-cold water, repeatedly squeezing it with the back of the spoon to get out as much buttermilk as possible and then to squeeze out the water too.
Finally, stir in a little salt (I prefer sea salt) and store the butter in an airtight container. You can use a recycled margarine container for this. The butter will get really hard when it gets cold. You can stir in a little olive oil to make it easier to spread cold if you want.
Give it a try – it goes great on homemade bread. You can make great homemade butter even if you don’t have a cow. Leave a comment here to let us know how it goes.
This post is linked to the Homestead Barnhop. Check out the great blogs linked there.