Friday, February 11, 2011


Last week, my cousin posted an article about making your own organic butter on Facebook. Ah ha! I said to myself, This will be perfect for my blog! So since I'm working doubles the entire weekend, I figured I should get this one in before I do nothing but eat, sleep, and work for the next couple days.

But first a few notes about the butter and margarine debate. I think we used butter mostly at my house, but I can't say for sure. I think it was pretty interchangeable, but from what I can remember, we had Land O Lakes butter sitting out on the table (rarely in the fridge) most of the time. I liked that we kept it at room temperature because it was actually possible to spread it on foods that were not scalding hot.

When I got married, I'm pretty sure we switched over to margarine, because that's what my husband was used to using, and I didn't have much of a preference at the time. But then I found out the awful truth about margarine: It's bad for you.

Long story short, it's imitation butter. And imitation is never better than the real thing. It goes back to the removal of the saturated fats and replacing it with scientifically engineered compounds like trans-fats, and we all know trans-fats are big no-nos.

So then I tried buying butter at the co-op grocery store. Surprisingly, they had about 15 different kinds of margarine and exactly one kind of butter. Sweet cream butter that had to be refrigerated and was hard as a rock. This would not fly with my husband. So we went back to the margarine until I recently found Land O Lakes spreadable butter with canola oil at the regular grocery store. They had a few more options there as well, but I'm happy with the canola oil mix for now and my husband will use it so everyone is satisfied.

So anyway, I decided on a whim at about 8 o'clock tonight to make my own butter using the article I mentioned previously. It claimed the process took ten minutes, so I figured why not?

I had already obtained organic heavy whipping cream ahead of time, and the only other ingredients are an electric mixer, ice water, and sea salt (to taste), so I was ready to go a few minutes after eight. The first step was to mix the whipping cream until it became a butter-like substance, which, supposedly takes about 10 minutes. I think it ended up taking me closer to 20, but it was a bit extended because I had to check the bowl several times to see if buttermilk was separating from the butter at the bottom. When it was finally separated, I had to find a couple containers appropriate for saving the buttermilk and coax said liquid into the containers while simultaneously not including the butter. This probably took another five minutes or so.

After that I had to check my freezer to see if we had ice cubes ready (we did, yay!) and pour the ice water into the bowl to wash the butter and try to remove more buttermilk. I washed it three times and the water began running clearer, so I figured I was good to go. The last step was to remove the rest of the liquid and then salt and wrap it up. Well, this whole removing the rest of the liquid part was probably the most time consuming part of the task. I squeezed and squeezed out liquid with my spoonula until I couldn't get any more out and so I went to salt and wrap up the butter and call it a day. But when I picked it up and tried to mold it into some cute, square-ish shape, I realized there was a ton of liquid still inside the butter ball. So I tried squeezing out more liquid with the spoonula, but none would come out. I finally resorted to squeezing out the liquid as best I could with my bare hands until I finally gave up and figured it was good enough. This whole process probably took me another 20 minutes or so.

Then there was the task of trying to figure out how to shape it into a cute little butter block. Well, I didn't really have any ideas, so after a few sorry attempts I ended up just lining a storage container with wax paper and shaping the butter to the container shape. I think in the end it took me about 50 minutes from start to finish, but I think I could shorten this to about 30 minutes or so once I've done it a few more times. I plan on taking some of the butter to work tomorrow and trying it out, along with some of the buttermilk. I think I'll put the butter on my roasted garlic sourdough bread I bought to go with the lasagna I made for lunch (and have for leftovers tomorrow!). No idea on the buttermilk. I may just add it to some oatmeal. Pretty excited about the whole thing, nonetheless.

In other news, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is fascinating and makes me want to garden more than ever. I'm very disappointed that I'll be moving mid-summer and so a garden is out of the question again this year. Last year they dug up my backyard to do work on the downstairs duplex, so it was a no go. Before that I didn't have yard space to call my own, so I haven't had the chance to try it out. Hopefully next year though. However, I just got done reading the part where the author learned how to make cheese, and it seems about as easy as making butter, so I think that will be my next project.

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