I once made butter using a dozen baby food jars, lots of heavy cream, and about 15 or so curious and eager kindergarteners (as the unpaid labor). I was a kindergarten teacher and trying to impart a lesson about transforming liquid into a solid, as well as attempting to utilize a lot of the excess energy that kids just naturally have. I poured about ½ a cup in each baby food jar and had the kids just shake the jars continuously until the cream started to separate from the liquid and…viola, butter! Children are not always drawn to butter, but when they make it themselves they are inclined to eat it like ice cream (which is essentially the same thing, but colder, with a lot of added sugar).
While this demonstrates an insanely simple way to make homemade butter, you could step it up a bit and churn or mix your own butter at home with delicious results. NPR reported last week that DIY butter was somewhat of a new hip trend; moving idealistic food-centric people toward a perceived goal of artisan food independence. So you could buy a handsome, and mechanically alluring, old-fashioned butter churner for about $150 and churn a quart or more of heavy cream into insanely creamy butter, unlike anything you could purchase in the supermarket, or you could rely upon an electric mixer to do the heavy mixing – each technique yields really tremendous butter (see recipe here). Or, for the hardcore enthusiasts, you could do a variation of my dozen kid technique and use a Ball Jar, some heavy cream, and a marble to produce a very similar, but more labor intensive, result (see video here).
Sure it is more work than most people want to do for butter, but the results are great and, if you are using organic milk from grass-fed cows, there are nutritional benefits coming from the conjugated linoleic acid and natural vitamin E that can’t be obtained from conventional butter.
Have you ever made butter from scratch? If so, what technique and approach has yielded the best results? Is it worth it, or just a crazy diversion from contemporary life?