How To Make Butter
Written by Kristen
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If you haven’t already, you should learn how to make butter. It’s so simple that I believe everyone needs to do it at least once.
To experience the best of what homemade butter can be, I only bother making it if I’ve got some extra raw cream from grass-fed cows on hand. Otherwise, I buy Kerrygold Irish Butter or Organic Valley’s Pasture Butter. Both are rich, yellow butters from grass-fed cows. They’re just not raw. (For online sources of butter from grass-fed cows, check out the listings on Resources Page.)
I also like to experiment with my butter. You can make butter from sour or sweet cream, with or without salt, and with or without various herbs and spices. However you do it, the same general method is used.
How To Make Butter: The Players
Any amount of cream
sea salt (optional)
How To Make Butter: The How-To
Begin by pouring your cream into a blender or food processor. Here I’m using slightly soured raw cream. It’s too far gone to be happy in coffee, but it’s not quite solid enough to be served up as sour cream.
Blend your cream, and be sure to have someone do the all-important job of keeping the lid on. (My four year old was eager to volunteer.)
After five or more minutes, the butter will start to separate into butter and buttermilk. When you notice that happening, stop the blender and let the cream sit for a minute or two as the butter rises to the top.
Pour the buttermilk into another container, using a spoon to press as much buttermilk out of the butter as possible.
You could call your butter done at this point, but if you want it to last for more than a few days you need to wash the butter. Pour ice cold water into the blender and blend for another thirty seconds.
After you’ve washed the butter, pour off the water. Use a spoon or a spatula to squeeze out the last dregs of the buttermilk. What’s left is butter. I mix in sea salt with a spoon.
Now it’s ready to spread on a delicious slice of sourdough bread made with sprouted grains, or melt over steamed vegetables
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Anybody else noticing the price of groceries drastically increasing in their area?
Lately when I’ve gone to the grocery store and walked down the aisle, I’ve been so thankful that we are able to produce a large amount of our food ourselves. We’re not 100% self-sufficient quite yet, but it’s such a relief to be able to skip the dairy, meat, bread, and egg sections of the store…
Last week while I was strolling down the dairy aisle, I couldn’t help but notice that the price of those little 8 oz cream cheese bricks was up to $2.50 per package. Yowza! Not too long ago, I would stock up on those guys for 99 cents each…
Since I am currently milking Oakley twice daily and have an abundance of cream (for the first time in a looong time…), I decided it was time to try playing around with making my own cream cheese.
And, let me just say that it couldn’t be easier!
First, some clarifications…
Number 1: there seems to be about a million different methods for homemade cream cheese out there. This is the method I prefer, and it’s pretty darn simple.
Number 2: Many, MANY “cream cheese” recipes out there are actually yogurt cheese recipes. I’ve made a lot of yogurt cheese as well, and it’s great– but not the same as real cream cheese. The flavor and texture are notably different.
Number 3: I used my fresh, raw cream for this recipe. However, since you are adding a culture to it, you could use store-bought, pastuerized cream if you had to. Or even half & half would work. Just try to use the highest quality cream that you can find.
Homemade Cream Cheese
- 1 quart of cream or half & half
- 1 package (1/8 teaspoon) of Mesophilic starter culture
- Fine cheesecloth (Find out how to improvise your own cheesecloth)
- Sea salt to taste (optional)
Make sure you are using a glass container to hold your cream. Gently stir in the starter culture.
Loosely cover (not airtight!) and set it on your countertop to culture for 8 to 12 hours. (It may take more or less time, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.)
You’ll know it’s done when it has set up and somewhat resembles yogurt. (It might not be a perfectly even consistency, but that’s ok.)
Dump the thickened cream into the cheesecloth and allow it the whey to drip out for at least 12 hours (the longer it drips, the firmer your finished cheese will be).
You might have to get a little creative with your drip set-up. I don’t have any knobs on my cabinet doors, so I tie the ends of my improvised cheesecloth around a wooden spoon and allow it to drip into a pitcher.
Once it has reached the desired consistency, scrape it out of the cheesecloth and lightly salt it to taste. The salt is optional, but it will help it keep slightly longer. Store in an airtight container in your fridge– it will get firmer as it chills.
I usually get 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cream cheese out of 1 quart of cream. Yields will vary slightly.
- I get all my cheesemaking cultures and supplies from Cultures from Health. Love them!
- I’ve seen several recipes that use cultured buttermilk instead of the mesophilic culture. I haven’t personally tried it, but it would probably work just as well. Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of buttermilk to your quart of cream to try this method.
- You can spice up that cream cheese with all sorts of different flavors! Mix in cinnamon, fruit preserves, or even some chives and onion powder for a unique treat.
- To make yogurt cheese: Follow this exact same method, substituting the quart of cultured cream with a quart of yogurt (homemade or storebought) instead.
- Wondering what to do with the leftover whey? Here are a bunch of ideas– don’t toss it!
- If you *ahem* accidentally forget about your cream cheese and leave it culturing or dripping for longer than stated above, don’t sweat it. It won’t hurt it and the worse that will happen is that it will just be slightly tangier.
Let me just say that this stuff is infinitely better than the storebought version. You’ll want to scoop it out of the container and eat it plain… Or smear it on some chocolate zucchini bread… Or make a pumpkin cheesecake… Or….
Confession: I Have A Stack Of Paper Plates …
Sitting in my pantry, because as a soon-to-be-mama of three I have no illusions about how far my super powers go. Sometimes victory looks like scrambled eggs for dinner, you know? Ain’t nobody got time to do a load of dishes just to have something to serve them on!
Most days, though, I try to make more eco-friendly choices: cloth diapering, composting, local food, using real dishes, and avoiding paper towels where possible. On that last one, my strategy until recently was to use old rags and tea towels while keeping out the real deal for guests. Truth be told, though, I missed the convenience of tearing a towel straight off the holder, so when I came across the unpaper towel concept I knew I had to try it!
Problem Is …
I don’t have a sewing machine. And unless you count homemade beauty products, my crafty score is 0. Fortunately, with a little help from Youtube I was able to straight stitch my way to unpaper bliss. (What, you DIDN’T learn how to sew on Youtube? Pshaw)
How To Make Unpaper Towels
- 2 yards terry cloth/flannel (Note: Though the terry cloth pictured is light in color, I’m making some with chocolate terry for messes that are likely to stain)
- 2 yards cotton fabric of your choice
- sharp scissors
- thread (preferably something that matches your fabric)
- ruler or 12×12 stencil (I used a square book)
- 57-63 snaps (you might want a few extra to practice with)
- snap applicator (I used Babyville pliers, but the KAM applicator looks really good, too. Make sure you get one that is compatible with your snaps)
- plastic canvas (2-4 sheets of 12×6 sections)
- embroidery thread (optional)
- superglue (optional)
Makes about 18 unpaper towels
Step 1: Wash & Dry Both Fabrics
That way if one or both of them shrinks it happens before you sew the pieces together!
Step 2: Cut Cloth Into 12×12 Inch Pieces
I found it helpful to use a stencil and trace on the back of the fabric before cutting. On or our old vacation photobook was just the right size – scrapbook paper is usually 12×12 too!
Note: You can adjust the size as needed, but keep in mind that the unpaper towels will be slightly smaller than the size you begin with.
Step 3: Sew A Straight Stitch
Lay the pieces together so that the fabric you want displayed is face down against the terry cloth/flannel and sew a straight stitch about 1/8- 1/4 inches away from the edge. Leave a 2-3 inch gap on one side so you can turn your towel inside out. Don’t know how to sew a straight stitch? It’s really, really easy, just watch the tutorial below and you’re on your way.
Here’s how the last corner should look when you’re done.
Optional Step: If you don’t feel quite confident that your stitches are super sturdy, you can apply a little liquid stitch around the seam. It’s not the “greenest” thing in the world, but I consider it a good tradeoff considering all the paper towels you’ll be saving.
Step 4: Turn Unpaper Towel Inside-Out
Trim any excess fabric that may create unwanted bulk, then pull your fabric through the gap you left so that the decorative part of the cloth is now facing out. Close up the remaining hole with a straight stitch.
If you would like, you can add a second later of stitching for decorative effect and to reinforce the edges. I chose not to, but this blanket stitch might be pretty with some embroidery thread.
Optional Step: Iron your towels so they will be nice and flat.
Step 6: Apply Snaps
Because it was cheaper, I started out using this snap applicator, but found that the unpaper towels were too thick for it to work properly. I ended up going with one like this. Though it was a bit tricky because my snaps were for a different applicator it was much easier to use! Here’s what you do:
Each unpaper towel will need 2-3 sockets on the right and 2-3 studs on the left so that each towel can attach to it’s neighbor. I chose to use three on each side.
You want the holes evenly distributed, so measure where you want them to go and then poke a little hole with the awl (pointy thingy that came with your pliers) to mark your spot. Place the cap through the hole and – using the instructions that come with your pliers – secure the snaps in place. If you have the Babyville pliers you may find this video tutorial helpful.
Step 7: Create Paper Towel Dowel
Now onto the last step: creating a sturdier version of the cardboard tube that holds paper towels in place. Some tutorials use PVC pipe, but when I went to my local hardware store to buy some I realized I had to buy an 8 foot pole and ask them to trim it into a 12 inch section for me. The rest would be thrown away, so I decided to try to find a less wasteful option and came across this tutorial, which uses plastic canvas.
Not only is this method easier, it saves you a trip! You can pick up plastic canvas at the fabric store while you’re picking out your fabrics. Here’s what to do:
Measure the height of your unpaper towels. Using that number, cut a section of plastic canvas that is (your unpaper towel height) x 6 inches. Mine was about 11.5×6.
There are several ways to attach the canvas so that it becomes a tube. There is this tutorial, which I planned to use until I realized that the snaps wouldn’t go through 4 sheets of canvas. Because I wanted a pretty sturdy dowel, I attached three studs to the outside sheet for the unpaper towels to connect to and then superglued the canvas together
Now just put your unpaper towels on the dowel and you’re done!