I recently saw a tweet from Joanna Blythman reporting the upsurge of homemade butter and I realised it was one of the food items I’d not “had a go at”! Unbelievable considering that as a child, my sisters and I were wont to decant the cream off the top (we’re talking about a million years ago, when non-homogenized milk was delivered in glass bottles, by the milkman, on an electric float) put it in some tiny plastic Tupperware pots, that mum had obviously allocated for curry powder or celery salt and shake the buggers like mad. This would eventually, by magic, result in butter. We’d throw away the liquid and the remaining yellow blob, warmed by excited hands, would be spread onto a bit of white sliced (also delivered by the breadman in a lorry) and consumed. Snack enjoyed, we’d move off to find some other messy/destructive activity that would no doubt result in being chased up the stairs by mum wielding a slipper. Was this really just 45 years ago……. oh, happy days!
So determined to go the whole hog with home produced sour dough loaf, plus homemade butter, I got hold of 2 litres of double cream (and, I should probably add, with apologies to my husband, a further cook book “Forgotten Skills of Cooking” by Darina Allen – second hand mind you) and proceeded, an hour before we were due to go out, to make butter. It couldn’t have been easier, or more exciting. I poured the whole lot of cream into the big bowl on my stand mixer and set it to a steady, sedate speed and watched as first it thickened, then suddenly, in an instant, separated into the required scrambled egg appearance. It dutifully sloshed around the bowl in what I’ve now discovered is creamy buttermilk until I scraped the massive lump of newly made butter off the balloon whisk. The bit i’d never practiced with my rudimentary, cream-off-the-top experiment, was expelling the excess buttermilk after draining. Not having access, to a set of fridge chilled butter pats, I stuck my hands under the cold tap (they were warming up caused in part by husband reminding me that I was supposed to be getting ready to go out), broke off wodges (technical term for cold, slimy, lumps of yellow stuff) and began to squeeze.
Little spurts of liquid decorated the tiling around the kitchen sink, but it was working. I could imagine that the butter pats, as a novice, would have hindered me, but I definitely will invest in a set before the next batch is made. In my rush, my hands were heating up, so I had to do a quick squish and squash and then chuck the lot in the fridge.
Ultimately I have produced one heck of a lot of lovely butter – mine was unsalted, due to lack of “dairy salt”, again another purchase will be made before the next batch. But the stuff is freezable so I reckon I’ll not need to purchase any butter for the next couple of months. Is it more tastier….. hmmmm. The provenance of my cream was not particularly special, just a 2 litre plastic jug of the stuff, but the fact that I got it for a fiver and have produced about one and a half kilos of butter, I’m pretty pleased with the result. I will have another go, with salt this time and maybe a different quality of cream – but what fun. Oh and the buttermilk was used in scones and a chocolate cake, so I should add that to the thriftiness equation!