Monday 8 April 2013

Homemade Butter

Butter! It suddenly occurred to me the other week sitting at my desk... Homemade butter! Why had it never occurred to me before? I set about looking up how to make your own butter; whisk some cream is the short answer... Sounds pretty easy. I'm going to make my own bloody butter. No sooner had I announced my intention on Twitter someone suggested I smoked it, my goodness, what a brilliant idea. I love butter, I love smoked stuff, happy days. So far I have only got as far as making the butter, I will smoke the next batch and keep you posted. I was just a bit too excited not to eat this lot straight away. There were hot crossed buns and fresh bread hanging around, realistically the butter wasn’t going to last long.

So on a sunny Good Friday morning I began my foray into the world of butter making. The arrival of the sun was as welcome as the butter. I am becoming so fed up with winter clothes and constantly being cold. It's still cold, but over Easter weekend we had lunch outside in the sunshine, up the coast in Newton, it was delightful! This never ending winter is finally showing some signs of coming to an end. I also dashed off to Lisbon for a few days last week to watch Newcastle lose a football match; but on the plus side I didn’t wear a coat or socks the whole time I was there! I loved Lisbon, so pretty and friendly, I'll post a few photos soon...

So some things I learnt before I began the butter; everything needs to be spotlessly clean; bowls, sieves, spoons etc... Start with your cream at room temperature as this will give you a head start, so leave it out of the fridge for up to 48 hours before you start. Look out for cream that has been reduced, bargain homemade butter is even better... It is a superstitious process historically, because things often went wrong, scattering primroses over the threshold and using a dead man’s hand to stir the churn were both recommended. Luckily this batch worked out well without flowers or dead people...

I Started with 600ml of thick double cream, it was on offer and I figured using a thick double cream would give me a little bit of a head start. In short you whip and whip until you get butter... I used a hand whisk and it probably took about 15 minutes and a bit of a sore arm, but is by no means unachievable. If you have an electric whisk then even better, you’re in for an easy time..

First the cream thickens and I couldn’t tell if I was imagining it turning slightly yellow or not. After it reaches a very thick stage little flecks start to form in it, this is butter. Keep beating it, it will turn grainy in appearance and finally you will find it sloshing around in a pool of buttermilk as it separates fully.

Place it all in a sieve with a bowl below, keeping the buttermilk, which you can drink or make a soda bread loaf from. I went with the latter, my own bread and butter, I was so proud! Return the butter to the bowl and beat it a bit more, and drain again. Then take a clean bowl full of very cold water and add the butter, squeezing it and washing it to remove any last buttermilk. I changed the water a few times, washing the butter until the water stayed clear. The buttermilk makes the butter go off much quicker, so you need to get it all out. Finally I added salt, you don’t have to, but it keeps much longer and I prefer it personally... Add ¼ of a teaspoon for every 110g of butter. From 600ml of cream I got 315g of butter, which I wrapped in little parcels of greaseproof paper and took on my trip up the coast.

It's so delicious, I made a soda bread loaf with the buttermilk, and it might have been my imagination but it was some of the best bread and butter ever, perhaps it was the sunshine and I was a bit giddy... It was so creamy and smooth and lovely, I cant wait to make it again. I will try cold smoking some, and perhaps flavour some with garlic, wild garlic or anchovies... Definitely one of my new favourite discoveries.


  1. Blimey, is that all there is to it?! Will be giving this a go for sure. Have you ever been to Jesmond Dene House? The seaweed butter they serve there is beyond revelatory. Might try blitzing in some soakedmixed seaweed and see what happens...

  2. Yes! I've had it, amazing! I love the butter there. I just love butter!


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x