Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making Cultured Butter with Raw Milk

A little culture never hurts!

Sweet cream butter is yummy, but cultured butter has the addition of good bacteria.  So, why not add it in?

It's very easy to culture your cream before making it into butter.  One way is to add a small amount of yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream to your cream, leave it at room temperature for 12-24 hours, then chill it.  (Use 1 or 2 tablespoons per pint of cream.)

Or, you can add a little of any of our mesophilic or direct set cultures, including kefir and flora danica.  (Creme Fraiche and sour cream are the most popular for this.)  The small amount of rennet in some of the cultures doesn't interfere with the butter making process.  (Use 1/8 teaspoon culture for any amount of cream, up to 4 gallons.)

Or, you can simply make creme fraiche or sour cream, chill it and proceed from there.  (Directions are on the front of the culture packs.)

There's an excellent YouTube video about making cultured butter- http://youtu.be/TFKljYGiIt0, by Rachel Harris at The Promiseland Farm (we did an article about her last year).

In this post, our guest butter maker, Patrick Crouch uses cream from raw cow's milk with buttermilk for his culture:
Patrick has a blog called "Little House on the Urban Prairie."  He is an urban farmer and an activist in Detroit, Michigan.  He doesn't live the bucolic life most of us dream about, but he has the satisfaction of knowing his work is appreciated by a LOT of people.

He works as the program manager of the oldest organic farm in Detroit- the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Earthworks Urban Farm.  Their mission is to demonstrate organic, sustainable farming methods, while teaching and feeding the community.  They have many active outreach programs.

When he isn't working, he and (his wife), "ma" keep bees, garden, can, ferment, cook, make art and travel.  He shares a lot about his life in his blog and his pictures are amazing.  He says it's a fine life and it certainly appears to be.  He doesn't think of himself as living the "lifestyle" of an urban farmer- he's just living...

making cultured butter
By Patrick Crouch at little house on the urban prairie

for the last few months ma and i have been adding to what seems like a massive amount of dairy in our lives with a cow share from hampshire farms.  while it might seem ridiculous for us to buy milk when we can get so much milk from the goat’s at cfa (Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public school for pregnant and parenting teens), we have been dreaming for years of making our own butter.  goat milk is naturally homogenized which means trying to get cream from goat milk requires a cream separator, something which would set us back a few hundred dollars.  it’s quite a bit cheaper to just buy some raw cow’s milk.

separating the cream from cow’s milk is a pretty simple task as the cream settles to the top quite quickly.  most of the time we just suck the cream off with a turkey baster, add some buttermilk and culture it.  once it’s sat out at room temperature for 24 hours the cultured cream is quite solid, it can easily be spooned off.  you can also let it culture on its own, but you have less control over flavor and it tends to be pretty funky.  if you don’t bother with culturing then you have sweet cream butter.

sucking cream off the top

after weeks of culturing, skimming and scooping cream we are left with a good amount of cream.

cash rules everything around me

once all the cream is accumulated it’s time to make butter.   we could use some old-fashioned churn, but we were given a kitchen aid when we got married and ma looks for every opportunity to use it, plus sticking a bunch of cream in the kitchen aid and just letting it go is so much easier than a churn.  make sure that the cream is cold as is the bowl on the kitchen aid, as it seems to help.

whip it good

the thing i find most challenging in butter making is the wait.  it seems to take forever for the cream to turn into butter – so stop fretting, and do something else while you wait, it can take as long as 45 minutes.  wash those dishes you have been putting off.

butter forming

once the butter has formed nicely, it’s time to remove the butter milk – the liquid that separates from the solids.  we use some cheese cloth or actually i think in this case we are using butter muslin – how appropriate, to drain off the butter milk.

draining the buttermilk

buttermilk drained off the butter

save that buttermilk, it can be used for all kinds of cooking and baking uses.  even though the butter looks like it is free of buttermilk there is still some left inside, and if allowed to remain it would mean the butter could turn rancid from too much moisture.  so you must wash out the buttermilk with cold water.

wash the butter

the butter is soft and the heat of your hands makes it even softer so throw a few ice cubes in the water to help it stiffen up.  massage it in a couple of changes of water and it should be in good shape.

wrapped and finished butter

once it’s done you can put it into molds, should you have any, or just wrap it in wax paper and form into logs.  put it in the fridge and it should harden up into nice yellow lovely butter, so good you will want to use it on everything.  cultured butter has a more sour flavor, almost cheesy from the culturing.  it can be a little shocking if you are not ready for it, but once you are used to it, it’s hard to go back to sweet cream butter.


nzfilbruns said...

One little note--I use a food processor for making butter. Three minutes if the cream is room temperature (I've read that 60*F is ideal). Also, I find it easier to separate the butter from the buttermilk if I make it before the cream thickens. I leave the buttermilk sit on the table in a jar, and the butter is never refrigerated in our house, so I figure the culture can finish its job then. I pull the cream out of the frig in the morning, add starter, and let it sit till late afternoon/evening, then make the butter. Works well for me! To make sour cream for other purposes (tacos!) I put the cream in a warm place for the first 12 hours, then leave out on the table another 12 hours or so and it thickens nicer.

Kathie said...

I just shake it in the jar! So much less to clean. Pull the cream out in the morning, add culture and let it sit on the counter. My later afternoon it's ready to shake - takes just 4 or 5 minutes. Then I just use the jar to wash it too. (keep adding cold water, shake and pour off).
(I use clabbered milk for my culture which I make myself and keep in the frig - feed it every couple days).

Kathie said...

I should have mentioned in my earlier note that you need a jar twice as big as the cream (equal cream and head space) for shaking.

farmlady said...

Sweet cream butter is what most of us are used to. Cultured butter is soured, so if you aren't used to this, be prepared, you may NOT like it!

Sweet cream butter can easily be made in a blender, much faster than a butter churn. You may have accidentally made butter if you whipped your cream too long.

caroline said...

when tried my blender it heated the cream ad turned it into liquid, then i tried the betters and it fluffed a little and then turned into liquid again. my farmer said it has 85% butterfat, shouldn't my cream turn into butter. should i try my food processor? thanks


Jeri said...

Patrick was a guest blogger here, so he isn't necessarily monitoring questions. Your best bet is to send any and all questions like this to our technical advisor, Jim Wallace at jim@cheesemaking.com. He's more than willing to help. (We funnel all questions to him.)
Good luck with your butter.

Dee Dee Stoller said...

I am fortunate enough to own my own cow...LOTS OF MILK!!! Eleanor is a 4 year old Holstein and we literally get 4 inches of cream off a gallon of milk which I ladle off. My kids are my "milkers and churners" I give them each a quart jar and they go to town. I also always save a jar or so for any visitors who stop by. They are amazed that they can take home butter after a 5 minute chat while they shake up "their" butter.

Jeri said...

That's a great idea!