Making Mildred's homemade butter using an electric whiskPosted by Fiona Nevile in Basics | 12 comments
At the age of six I almost came to blows with my best friend's mother. This lady was elegant, French and chic. She had one of those woven basket shopping trolleys (2 wheels and a handle) and wore espadrilles.
Her fridge was full of mysterious ingredients. I remember examining a jar of capers. Trying to imagine how any food could be improved with these small reptilian greenish greyish balls.
Looking back this rather distant lady probably considered me a bad influence on her youngest daughter. We were very wild.
But the big altercation was not about our naughtiness it was a spat about butter.
At home we ate salted butter (Anchor). At Twink's house everything was much more deluxe. I couldn't understand why her mother was giving us margarine for breakfast. One day she actually referred to it as butter. This overt lying was too much for me.
"It tastes just like margarine."
"It certainly does not."
Her icy glance put me in my place in an instant. "It's unsalted butter. And it's French."
I had never heard of unsalted butter. Somewhere deep down inside I realised that my preference would rubber stamp her antipathy. So I spread it on my toast, gazed at the sophisticated table cloth (black and white checks) and didn't mention that I preferred Anchor.
Sometimes we treat ourselves to a lovely French slightly salted butter. I always think of this lady as I reach for the slim, expensive roll. Lying in bed a few nights ago I realised that if I tried making Mildred's butter I would actually save money on this treat. The by product of buttermilk would be free. We use buttermilk in soda bread. The air miles would be minuscule and homemade butter might taste better.
I had to use the best cream to give the test butter making run a fighting chance. So Jalopy pointed her nose towards Waitrose. There are no local dairy farms and hopefully the cream would come from a UK farm. A quick internet search informed me that Waitrose use 70 UK farms to supply their cream.
Not having a dairy churn handy I used my electric whisk. I studied Mildred's method closely. I put the cream and creme fraiche mixture in the airing cupboard overnight. In the morning I popped the bowl into the fridge to chill.
The cream turned to butter in about ten minutes. The rest of the process took some time but eventually I had three rolls of butter. Not having a pair of butter pats I used a tiny chopping board to shape them. The total process took me an hour from start to finish.
Next time I am going to force the water out of the butter by putting it in two layers of muslin and squeezing it in our small fruit press. With a bit of experience, I reckon that the butter making process could be shortened to about half an hour.
2 pints of double cream made 610g of butter and 400ml of butter milk. I just used half a teaspoon of Maldon salt (which I will grind next time). The butter is delicious and the buttermilk is much sweeter than the supermarket stuff.
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