In this month's Food Network magazine (which is my favorite food magazine), they had a section on butter. They discussed different types of butter and making your own different herb butters. They had a simple recipe for making your own butter and I decided to give it a try. The only ingredient you need is heavy cream (and a little salt) so I figured, what do I have to lose? Maybe just a few bucks for the cream. I was willing to give it a try.
I bought one pint of cream and used my hand mixer, which is literally about 30+ years old. I took it from my mom since she doesn't do much baking. I've used it a number of times and it's still kicking...or churning...or spinning...or whatever.
I put the whole container of heavy cream in a large bowl and mixed on high speed. First it was just foamy around the edges.
Within a few minutes it developed into a nice whipped cream with gentle peaks.
A few minutes later it developed into an even thicker whipped cream.
It looked like the above picture for quite a while. I was beginning to think, "I don't know what's going on, but I don't think this is going to work. What the heck am I going to do with all this whipped cream?" Then the consistency started to change a little bit to be less "whipped-cream-y" and slightly more chunky.
It also looked like this for a long time. My arm was getting tired at this point and I was afraid my poor little old mixer was going to overheat or something! I don't think it's ever worked for this long before. I think I was about 15 minutes into the process, even though the magazine article said the whole process should have taken about 9 minutes. After 15 minutes, mine wasn't looking anything like butter.
And then, just like magic, the butter started to separate from the liquid! It was the oddest thing!
The more I kept mixing, the more liquid was coming out and the more butter was separating from the liquid.
Towards the end, I sprinkled a little salt on it and did one final mix. Then I lined a strainer with cheese cloth over a bowl. I poured the contents of my mixing bowl into the cheese cloth, wrapped the cheese cloth around the butter, and lifted up the cheese cloth to let the excess liquid drain. Then I squeezed the butter in the cheese cloth to get out most of the remaining liquid.
So weird! I still don't entirely get what happened in that process. It started out a liquid (although the cream was thick), then became creamy, then became more like solid curds (like feta cheese), and then one part liquid (more like a 2% milk consistency, not so creamy) and one part solid. I was fascinated by the process.
Now for the true test, Mark and I tried to eat it. I tried it first. I really had no idea how it was going to taste..I was afraid it was going to be gross. I tried it on a piece of challah bread leftover from making French toast. It was actually delicious! Mark tried it too and he loved it!
Who would have thunk making butter would be such a fascinating process and taste so good?! The only slight downside to this is that it took me about 20 minutes of holding the mixer and my arm got kind of tired. My mixing bowl also wasn't super deep, so I got cream all over almost everything. If you have a stand mixer though, this would be a piece of cake (or a piece of easy, homemade butter?). You could just put the cream in, and set it to mix for about 20 minutes. It might even take less time as a stand mixer might be more efficient.
I would recommend trying this out, I think you'll be delightfully surprised. I can see myself doing this again some time. It would be a fun thing to do with kids also.