Making European-Style Butter at Home is Surprisingly Easy
Have you ever made butter from scratch? I hadn’t, at least not since we all took turns shaking a jar in elementary school, before this weekend. And it’s delicious — really, really delicious. It’s quite unlike any butter, no matter the source or the price, that I’ve ever had. Buttered toast has never been more delicious. And trust me, you’ll want to eat it that way, because this isn’t a utilitarian kitchen staple, it’s the star of the show.
Before refrigerators were invented, butter was almost always made with fermented cream. These days, most people in North America and the U.K. are used to uncultured butter, while our continental European counterparts stick with the traditional cultured butter. And what’s so great about the latter? Well, cultured butter tends to have more depth of flavor and is just a little tangy.
Oh, and the second best part about this recipe? You’ll wind up with butter and real, fresh buttermilk! This is not the buttermilk you can buy at the store, this is the real deal. Use it in baking, in pancakes and waffles, salad dressings and more.
DIY Cultured Butter
- 4 Cups heavy cream
- 1/3 Cup plain preservative and gum-free yogurt
- 4 Cups ice water
- 1/4 Teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)
- 1 Large, lidded container (like a mason jar)
- Candy Thermometer
- Fine-meshed sieve
- Stand mixer (ideally) or food processor
Yield: 12 Ounces butter and 1/2 cup buttermilk.
1. Place cream and yogurt in a large, lidded container and shake well with the lid on. Remove lid, and cover opened jar with clean kitchen cloth. Transfer to a warm spot in your home, around 75 degrees F and let sit for 18-24 hours.
2. After at least 18 hours, stir and taste the mixture. Once it’s thick, silky, and tangy, cover with lid and transfer to the fridge to cool to about 60 degrees F.
3. Place a fine-meshed sieve in a large bowl. Line sieve with cheesecloth. Prepare 4 cups ice water and place in fridge. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on it. Cover the space between the mixer and the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent splattering. Churn butter on high. It will start off-white and the consistency of whipped cream. Over a few minutes of churning, it will thicken and turn pale yellow. When the buttermilk splatters on the plastic wrap, turn mixer off and check to see if the white buttermilk has separated from the yellow curds.
4. Remove bowl from mixer. Pour off as much of the buttermilk into the cheesecloth-lined sieve as possible, without letting the curds drop into it. Next, place the curds into the sieve and let it drain for about 1 minute. Pull the cheesecloth up and around the curds and squeeze out as much buttermilk as possible into the sieve. Reserve buttermilk for a later use.
5. Transfer butter to a large unused bowl. Pour 1/3 cup ice water over it. Using a rubber spatula, smash and fold butter to squeeze out more of the buttermilk. Pour off and discard liquid, and continue pouring ice water , kneading and discarding liquid 5 more times, using just your hands to fold towards the end. If you’re using salt, sprinkle over the butter and fold and smash to incorporate well.
6. Divide the butter roughly in half. Transfer one half of the butter to the top 1/3 of a piece of parchment, and, using your hands, form the butter into a log. Don’t worry about it looking neat. Fold the parchment over the butter and roll the butter back and forth until the log is smooth and consistent in shape.
7. You’re done! Store the butter in the parchment, using tape to secure it. Butter will keep in the fridge for about 1 month.
Recipe Credit: American’s Test Kitchen.