The Cottage Smallholder

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Guest spot: How to make your own homemade butter by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

Daysee butter churnWhen Mildred mentioned that she made her own butter I was intrigued. Was it easy? What did it involve? Could anyone make their own butter?

Mildred assured me that it was easy. She has a churn but she reckoned that butter could probably be made in a food mixer. The only problem seems to be that “Once you have made your own, you won’t want to go back to ‘bought’!” Mildred uses it, “In croissants, puff pastry and all my cakes and on toast of course, under the jam!”

Mildred’s instructions are as follows.

“Take one churn, 1 ltr or 2 pints of really good fresh double cream, no Long Life here. The night before you want to make it put the cream in the glass churn, or a big jug (everything needs to be absolutely spotless of course, I use the baby sterilising solution, Milton). Add one tablespoon (about 80ml) of crème fraîche (see note below) – we are making ‘cultured’ butter here – and give it a stir. Cover and leave in the warm kitchen (70f to 80f) overnight. In the morning, or 12 to 18 hours later, it should be thicker and taste slightly tangy, if it smells very strong it has ‘gone wrong’, it hasn’t happened to us yet!

You can pop it in the fridge for up to 24 hours at this stage. In any case it needs cooling a bit to around 63f, I put the glass jar into a bowl with cold water and ice cubes for 20 mins.
Now the exciting part! Attach the churn/paddle part to the jar and start to turn. Mine takes about 150 turns of the handle, maybe 3 minutes (although this can vary depending on the cream, temperature etc, it took 10 mins with some Tesco cream).

It will thicken like whipped cream would with stiff peaks, then keep a close eye and slow the churning a little. You may detect a change in the consistency, it will start to go ‘grainy’, and before you know it the globules of yellow Butter will materialise, awash in the Buttermilk, this is the butter ‘breaking’ or ‘coming’!

Carefully pour the Buttermilk out (into a jug to keep in the fridge for future scones, soda bread etc). I sometimes pour it through a sieve to ensure none of the butter escapes.

Now wash your Butter to get rid of all the residual Buttermilk which would otherwise spoil the Butter. Add a cup full of iced water to the Butter in the glass jar. If it is still fairly soft you can use the churn, but quite often it is too firm so you need to squidge it around using a spatula or fork. Pour the water away and add fresh water, you need to do this 4 or 5 times until the water runs quite clear. Scoop your Butter out and place it in a clean bowl, then press as hard as you can with a spoon or spatula to get rid of any water, you can also add salt at this stage, I use a teaspoon of Maldon.

Tip your Butter onto a marble / pastry board and divide into 2 using your butter pats. It is easy to shape in 2 nice oblongs or rolls which can then be wrapped in greaseproof paper. Pop it into a poly bag and into the fridge. It keeps for up to a week. You can of course freeze it for up to 3 months.

Crème fraîche: It needs to be the sort without any additives/stabilizers etc. The reason for’culturing’ the butter are partly that it increases the yield, it also makes the Butter ‘come’ much quicker, and it really does produce a lovely flavour. You can use yogurt or buttermilk too, but I haven’t tried that.”

Mildred recommends this website as it has good detailed information for butter makers-

I don’t have a churn but I have a gleaming Magimix. Tomorrow I am going to buy some cream and experiment. Years ago my mum used to make butter, using cream and an electric whisk. She discovered the method when she was whipping cream and found that she was making butter. I was still at school and so was able to venture into the woodworking department and make her a pair of butter pats with a carved pig motif. I had forgotten all about this until 30 seconds ago!

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Dairy farms are few and far between around here but I will find one eventually!

  2. Hi Rosemary, when I put 2 pints of cream in the churn it is about half full and it makes about a pound and a half of butter. It was much cheaper to buy the cream in bulk direct from the farm! Last time, we bought 8 pints and churned it in 3 batches . . . with one batch of washing up at the end 🙂

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Rosemary,

    Thanks for leaving a comment. Yes it is much easier to buy cream but it’s useful to hear of other ways to make butter.

    I can’t wait to try making my own again.

  4. I used to make butter regularly when my children were growing up,leaving full cream milk to settle in a large shallow pan and then skimming it.I usually used jersey milk.Then I would leave the cream over night at room temperature before making the butter using a kenwwod chef food mixer.Much easier buying cream.I do have a glass butter churn (the smallest one) but you need a large quantity of cream even for that.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Danny,

    I love hearing about your Irish childhood.

    Hi Mildred,

    Thanks for leaving another useful link.

    Hi Helen,

    Mildred’s post has made me keen to try making butter too.

    Hi Pat,

    Mildred’s post is inspirational.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    What a great story and a wonderful way to teach children how to make butter!

  6. I still remember vividly the day our Primary class teacher, Miss Poole, brought a churn in and made butter.One day each week we did some cooking: we sat silently listening to the sound of the cream in the churn,waiting to hear the magical change to butter. Our playtime treat that day was fresh baked scones ( made by us) with the butter and buttermilk.Bliss!
    I think I might give home-made butter a try this week, after all, it isn’t much fun gardening in this November gloom!

  7. Another very interesting post!! Thanks Fiona! I didn’t realize you had to wash the butter. So I have learnt something again. Thanks!!! 🙂

  8. helen suggitt

    was really interested to find this site, saw a butterchurn in an antique shop today like the one in the picture, amazed how easy it seems to be to make butter, will give it a go i think , but may try the electric whisk method, they wanted £26.oo for the churn , i’m sure its worth every penny, but will try whisk first.

  9. Hi Danny, what a wonderful memory! Our churn is rather ancient too, but it does an excellent job.

    There’s some great information regarding churns and all things ‘butter’ here:

    You can usually find vintage churns on Ebay, they go for between £10 and £50, depending on their condition.

    I only add a small amount of salt, I think we are all getting used to not having much salt in our diet.

    I couldn’t drink Buttermilk! It really makes a nice Soda Bread though, it is quick and easy and delicious with a bowl of home made soup – yum!

  10. That brings back some great memories, Mildred. Back in Ireland, my Mum used to occasionally make her own butter throughout the 60s and 70s. She had an ancient wooden butter churn with a built in paddle.

    Us kids thought it was too salty but she adored it. Her favourite meal of the year was simply a plate of newly-dug floury boiled potatoes with generous dollops of her own butter, washed down with a glass of the buttermilk.

    Buttermilk, like Guinness, is an acquired taste!

    I wish I knew what happened to that churn. It would be considered an antique now, I imagine.

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