Sunday, February 14, 2016

How to Make Homemade Cultured Butter

While most Americans consume sweet cream butter, cultured butter has been around for centuries and is still the spread of choice in much of Europe. Not only does it have a lot more flavor than store bought butter, it has a longer shelf life at room temperature as well. Lucky for us, it is also very easy to make. 

The traditional method involves leaving fresh cream out to sour a bit before churning it. Unfortunately almost all commercial heavy cream in the United States is sold ultra-pasteurized, a process that kills all of the natural cultures found in the cream. As a result, we have to find a way to add it back in. 

To make homemade cultured butter, place one quart of heavy cream (preferably organic) in a large bowl along with 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt and mix them together with a hand whisk. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set the mixture aside at room temperature for anywhere between 10 to 14 hours. Then refrigerate it for another 3 hours to thoroughly chill.

Using an electric mixer, whip the cream on high spreed past the point of becoming whipped cream. (Covering the mixer with a towel while doing this helps to keep things tidy.) Eventually, the whipped cream will begin to develop a yellow hue and break. As it takes on an increasingly crumbly texture, gradually lower the speed. Eventually the butter fat  will gather into a large mass. 

Use a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to separate the butter from the buttermilk. Then gather the ends of the cloth and gently squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. 

Transfer the butter to a large shallow bowl and give it a good smear to expand the surface area.  Sprinkle with your favorite salt and fold the butter into itself to distribute it. Pack the butter into little glass jars or use freezer paper to form it into a block. (Be sure to save the buttermilk for use in your baking recipes!)