Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Homemade Butter

On seeing the title of this post, I know you're all thinking one of the following:
1. that I live in a mud hut and fashion my clothes from the skin of squirrels or
2. that I make butter all the time, just like I make my own puff pastry, knit my own jumpers and darn my own socks.

Wrong on all counts!  To be honest, I was a little reluctant to post this recipe as it doesn't fall under the category of "baking" and it's a bit of a random (and possibly odd!) post but here goes.  I was in a bookshop in town the other day looking for a cookery book for a friend who is leaving work.  I sat down in the bookshop with Darina Allen's "Forgotten Skills of Cooking" and leafed through it (actually, I did what I always do with cookery books in book shops: I took out a notebook and pen and secretly jotted down recipes that I wanted to try at home, while making sure I didn't make eye contact with any of the bookshop staff, Shhhhhhhhhhh!).  I saw a recipe for butter which had only one ingredient.  This is a shameful thing to say but I actually didn't know that butter was made from just whisking cream until the buttermilk separates from the milk solids (please don't judge me).  In the book, Darina says that making butter is extremely simple and she can't understand why more people don't make their own on a regular basis.  Reading that was almost as if Darina was challenging me to try making butter so I quickly took note of how much cream I'd need and scurried out of the bookshop before I started to look suspicious to the security men.

On the economics of making your own butter, it's less expensive to buy it in the shop but you get such a sense of achievement from having made something yourself that goes well beyond the money aspect.  But just so you know, I bought a 500ml tub of cream costing €2.40.  This made about 200g of butter which would cost €1 in a shop (450g block of butter costs €2.20) and 250ml of buttermilk, which would cost about €0.25 (1 litre of buttermilk costs €1). 

Homemade Butter from Darina Allen "Forgotten Skills of Cooking".

500ml double cream
¼ tsp salt for every 100g of butter - salt preserves the butter and will keep it fresh for 2-3 weeks.  Without the salt, the butter will only remain fresh for a few days. Note: I used table salt.

Whisk the cream in an electric mixer for 10-15 mins (if you try to do this by hand, your arm will most definitely fall off).  It will change texture from being thickly whipped cream to where the buttermilk separates from the butter and sloshes around the bowl.  Turn the mixture into a clean sieve and drain the buttermilk from it.  This buttermilk can be used to make brown bread, muffins, pancakes etc.  Return the butter in the sieve back into the mixer and whisk again for 30 seconds to remove more buttermilk.  Turn out into the sieve as before. 
Fill a bowl with very cold water and use your hands to knead the butter and force as much buttermilk out of the butter (the buttermilk will sour the butter so it needs to be removed).  Drain the water from the bowl and repeat this process two further times until the water runs clear.  Make sure the water in the bowl is very cold as you don't want your warm hands to melt the butter.
Wrap the butter in greaseproof paper and store in the fridge.  It also freezes well.
If you wish to add salt you will need ¼ teaspoon of plain salt for every 110g (4oz) of butter. Before shaping the butter, spread it out in a thin layer and sprinkle evenly with salt. Mix thoroughly.

The photos below show the various stages of the whisking process.  With my Kitchen Aid on medium speed it took about 13 mins to get the cream whisked to the final stage.

Drain the buttermilk from the butter

Now all you need to do is shape it

Are you better at shaping butter?


  1. Claire, how wonderful, I have the book, and keep meaning to try things like this. When I can take a breath (in the new year) I'm going to have a go. Lovely blog, thanks for your comment, and yes with 3 under 4s you are allowed chocolate at 10.30 in the morning... or any time of day you like! I'm going to follow your super blog. Jude x

  2. Hi Jude, you should try making butter, much easier that I thought it would be. Looking forward to following you!

  3. I've never made my own butter but there's something wonderfully romantic about the idea of doing it. Did you just use normal cream from a supermarket, or was it some kind of gorgeous natural dairy type stuff? Either way, the results look incredible!

  4. Inspiring stuff- can't wait to try. Thank you!

  5. The Little Loaf - I'd love to say that I used only the best cream but alas it was Tesco (own brand) double cream. My thinking was that if I was happy with the results the first time I tried it, next time I'd use the best cream I could find and make a flavoured butter.

    Tori - I'll have you making cheese soon!!

  6. Lovely idea I remember doing it at school. Did not turn out so well as this! Nice idea

  7. Working London Mummy - Oh dear, nothing I ever made in scool invoked happy memories. Forget the school memories and think creamy delicious gorgeousness and get whisking!