The Green Dish: Make Butter
I have to say, the comments left for the introduction of The Green Dish were very touching! I knew that I wasn’t the only city mouse playing country life, but it was so nice to hear from those of you paddling around in the same boat. Also lovely to hear from those of you in the country, and just nice to hear from all of you. Thank you! Your comments gave me inspiration. And what do I do when feeling inspired? Make butter, of course!
When I was a kid I loved butter so much that my older sisters could easily trick me into eating a handful of softened soap from the soggy soap dish by simply suggesting to me that it was butter. (And yes, I have forgiven them.) My love of butter surely persists, but I have managed to stop eating it by the scoop.
In my neighborhood there is a growing number of fancy food stores, but I haven’t found a knock-my-socks-off butter at any of them. I keep spending too much money on the butter that will sweep me off my feet, like I know butter has the potential to do, but butter after butter: Disappointment.
So where does the girl seeking butter bliss turn? Her trusty stand mixer, that’s where! Chances are that I am not going to make butter any better than a gourmet butter company can, right? Well, no and yes. It may not be that much better, if even at all, but it will be my butter, and pride can be a really remarkable flavor enhancer.
At my local greenmarket there is a dairy farm stand that provides us with lovely, non-homogenized, minimally pasteurized, chemical-free milk. I have been to the farm to visit the beguiling bevy of cows. They were rambling around and chomping grass. They seemed happy. (I am projecting here, of course, I can’t possibly know what makes a cow happy.) I get glass quarts of milk for my family from this farm stand weekly and last Saturday I grabbed a pint of heavy cream too.
Now you know, I always imagined making butter to be an incredibly labor-intensive process: Many steps, lots of work. And if I were wearing calico and churning on the porch while watching Laura and Mary frolicking in the wheat field, it would have clearly taken some elbow grease. But with my KitchenAid, no tired arms did I experience, and the simplicity of it all was very surprising. (You don’t need a stand mixer, you can also use a food processor or a hand mixer.) It was like, pour in the cream, whip, mush it around, presto-chango: Butter. It’s so insanely easy, so why don’t we all make our own butter?
As for the result, well, my youngest daughter was scooping, and beyond swooning (genetics). And I think I even spied a flinch of pleasure from my butter-sneaking husband. It was really good. Sweet with the subtlest tang; round and creamy. It brought a flash of pastures, the smell of grass, and fresh breezy air to me. I think I have finally found my butter.
Bring heavy cream to around 50F degrees, this took about 30 minutes out at room temperature for me.
Pour cream into the bowl of a stand mixer, cover top with shield, plastic or a dish towel. Really, do this or you will be wiping buttermilk spray from your kitchen ceiling. Whip with whisk attachment on medium-high for about five minutes, beyond the stiff peaks of whipped cream, until you can see that the fat has separated from the liquid. Alternatively, you can use a food processor or hand mixer.
Pour over a strainer into a bowl, and knead the butter to release more liquid. (This will make your hands very soft and give them a deep buttery flavor until you shower, which is kind of lovely, but can get a little gross after a while.)
When butter stops releasing liquid and feels so creamy—voila!
Save the liquid “buttermilk!” and drink or use for cooking.
Salt if you like (guilty non-local eco-sin confession: I added Himalayan pink salt).
Scoop with your fingers, experience weak knees.