Churn Up the Fun: Making Your Own Butter
"Modern” butter making is very little changed from the ancient methods developed by our ancestors for turning delicious, luxurious cream into solid “gold.”
The recipe was easy and simple: Let the cream culture overnight at room temperature, then put it in a barrel and whack the heck out of it with a stick until it turns into a solid.
Child’s play, right? Exactly. I don’t remember making butter as a youngster, but as a grown-up I’ve come to love the timeless fun of making butter at home with my daughter.
And you don’t need a barrel, or even a churn. It’s as easy as putting cream in a glass jar, then shaking it like mad until it turns into a solid.
I didn’t use cultured cream for these recipes, specifically because cooking with kids is often a spontaneous activity, and using cream straight from the market or refrigerator is just fine. If you are able to pre-plan, culturing the cream overnight (see the Cook’s Note below) before “churning” is a treat. Cultured butter has a tangy flavor missing from the store-bought butter we are used to.
MAKING COMPOUND BUTTERS
“Compound butter” is a fancy name for doctored-up butter with stuff in it. Some people add chives or garlic or spices. You can easily make compound butter with store-bought butter just by mixing in fun ingredients—but making your own butter just feels more special.
After your butter is made you can even mold it into shapes. Use your imagination: Lollipop molds, ice cube trays and plastic wrap can work wonders.
For the plastic wrap method, after your butter is finished and rinsed, lay a large sheet of plastic wrapping or parchment out. Drop the butter in spoonfuls onto the wrapping and fold the wrapping over, shaping the butter into an even roll. Fold over the paper or tie both ends. Now you can leave the tube round, or press it into a square or even a triangle shape.
For extra-fancy compound butter, sprinkle any ingredient you’d like on the wrapping before adding the butter—I chose chocolate chips for the Mexican Chocolate Butter below.
Well-rinsed butter will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or months in the freezer.