As the holiday approach, every year I try to think of homemade gifts I can make. I love to cook, and it just seems that sharing of yourself in that way is the perfect way to say you care. Years ago, I made pizzelles for several people who helped me throughout the year at work. They were a huge hit, and people were generally touched at the gesture, and the thought and time that went into the gift. However, I’m always trying to find something different, not your average cookies or candy. This year, I found an absolute gem, homemade butter.
I know, I know, you’re thinking you need to take out the butter churn, and travel back in time about 200 years. But it’s really very easy, and absolutely delicious. The recipe I found was in Martha Stewart Living a few years ago (May 2013), and it comes from Diane St. Clair, dairy farmer extraordinaire! Not only does she have a beautiful farm in Vermont, but she also supplies butter to Thomas Keller and the French Laundry! When I saw that, I knew I had to try this recipe.
The recipe takes some planning, because the cream and buttermilk mixture need to sit for up to 24 hours, but it’s worth it. And, those essentially are the only ingredients (ok, and a little salt). The butter is creamy, rich, and delicious, with a bit of a tang. Giving someone butter you made yourself…it’s perfect!
To start, pour 4 cups heavy cream into a medium saucepan. Warm on medium heat until it reaches 70 degrees. Make sure you stir while it’s warming so it doesn’t burn. Pour the cream into a bowl with a lid along with 1 cup buttermilk. Stir, then cover tightly. Leave out overnight or up to 24 hours, and make sure the temperature stays around 70 degrees. That was the temperature in my kitchen, so it worked out really well. And I know this seems strange, but just leave the container right there on the counter. It will be fine.
The next day, stir the mixture. It should be thick. Pour the cream mixture into a food processor and process for 3 to 4 minutes, until small grains of butter form. I have a small food processor, so I had to do it in a few batches, but it still turned out great. You could probably use a blender as well, but again, you’ll need to use small batches. You’ll see the grains of butter and buttermilk separate, then you know it’s done.
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer. You can save the buttermilk that separates if you like. You’ll be left with delicious butter in the strainer. Put the butter on a clean surface and gather it together into a large ball. I did this in a bowl, just to make sure I didn’t lose any pieces. Rinse it under cold running water. You want to knead it and fold it to remove as much liquid as you can.
I added in a little bit of salt, maybe 1/8-1/4 teaspoon, to enhance the flavor. Now you can pack the butter in small glass jars, and you’re ready to give your gifts. This will make probably 4 small jars. Just be ready to explain the process, as many people will ask if you spent hours churning. I guess you could say you did! 🙂