While my preferred method of making butter is in my vintage gem dandy churn, I also have a method on YouTube of using a high-speed blender. However, when I polled on Instagram, the most common ‘capable of making butter’ appliance is a stand mixer, so I’m going to show you today how to do so!
Personally, I have a Bosch mixer but I used to have a basic KitchenAid. The biggest difference is that you can use more in a Bosch, and the Bosch has a lid so I don't have to put a tea towel over the KitchenAid to help the splatters.
So while I am spoiled with my Bosch, I will give you instructions for both KitchenAid and Bosch.
What's in Your Cream?
Cream turns best into butter when it's a little warm. About 50F/10C is my preference. Once you get closer to 60F/15C, your butter whips and gets harder to wash. Colder and you have to wait for the cream to turn to whip cream before it turns to butter. Warm cream bypasses the whipping cream step, making it faster and easier on your mixer.
Most butter yields you read about are based on heavy cream, which is only the thickest cream on top. However, I skim ALL the cream, even the ‘light’ cream. This lessens my yield per quart of cream but increases the overall butter yield per gallon of milk.
How much cream you get from a gallon of milk varies wildly. The genetics of the cow is the first and foremost determining factor. Watch for the stage in lactation, are you calf sharing, and what they are eating, to name a few factors. These all have different ways of impacting cream.
How much butter you yield from said cream ALSO varies based on genetics and the ‘components’ of the milk. I know I know, so tricky! It's easy to get obsessed with trying to raise your cream content. I know because I’ve been there. However, focus on feeding your cow well, keeping them happy and healthy, and you will get the best you can from your cow.
This process can be done with heavy cream from the store as well, although I doubt it would save you any money. Not that having a cow and making my own butter saves me much money! It's a labour of love in pursuit of the best food for my family possible. If you’ve ever tasted fresh butter…you’ll understand.
How to Make Butter
Load up your mixer with your cream - 1 quart fits in a KitchenAid and 2 quarts in the Bosch. Turn it on as high as you can with the KitchenAid and 2-3 with the Bosch.
Watch for the butter solids to thicken and then separate from the buttermilk. You will learn to hear the sounds of the butter process as the cream thickens and then ‘splits.’ When you’ve mastered this (it won't take many tries!) you won't even have to look at it, you’ll just know the sound.
I like to put a colander like a pasta strainer over a pot or bowl, and then dump the butter in there to strain out the buttermilk. Give your butter a few kneads between your hands to get out the buttermilk. If it's too warm and squishy, don't panic; put it in a bowl of cold water and leave it for 20+ minutes.
Pour your buttermilk into a jar to save for baking (but remember that this buttermilk is not thick like the cultured buttermilk you buy in the store). It's excellent in place of milk in any recipe!
Depending on how much butter you made and what you feel like doing, you can wash one of a couple of ways:
The first way is to put cold water in a metal bowl or pot and put your butter in there. Using your hand (run hands under cold water first) or a wet, fairly flat wooden spoon, knead the butter to wash it. Dump the water and add more cold water. I’d say for a pound of butter I put 2-3 quarts of water. I actually save this water, I put it and the buttermilk in a bucket to feed the pigs. I figure I might as well when we are on limited water!
Repeat the washing 2-3 times until the water is clear. At this point, you can salt the butter if you’d like, 1 teaspoon to 1 pound of butter. Knead it in there good.
The second way to wash is to put your water running on cold, low pressure, and knead the butter under the water. Keep kneading and washing. This way is not as thorough but is faster. I do it often when I just am too tired to care about it being perfect…
How to Store Fresh Butter
Now it's time to decide how you want to store your butter!
I like to weigh out 4 oz blobs on a plate on my scale, and then roughly shape them into a rectangle. I find this shape easiest for taking out a block of frozen butter and cutting up if we’re needing to melt ¼ cup (2 oz) of butter for something. They also store well in a bag. The extra I always have that doesn't measure up to 4 oz, I either just put it in the butter dish, or I shape it into a ball so it's obvious it's not a 4 oz block.
Butter keeps indefinitely in the freezer. For sure at least a year. Yes, it will start to get a little frosty, but once it thaws, that melts away and it doesn't affect the quality. Early this summer we pulled out some butter from last summer that was gloriously golden from grass and it was as perfect as the day we made it. My kids cheered for grass-fed butter after a winter of ‘hay butter.’ This is still amazing nutrient-dense food, it just lacks the really bright yellow color!
Another reason we like 4 oz blocks is they fit in a butter dish well and makes it easy to take out just a bit for soft use. Salted butter will last longer on the counter, unsalted will start to go a bit ‘cheesy' in a few days. However, if used in baking, you won't notice it. When it comes to putting butter on things, I’m yet to find an instance where some cheesy flavoured butter doesn't fit.
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How to Make Butter
- 1-2 quarts fresh cream
- 1 teaspoon salt optional
Using a Bosch Mixer
- You can do 2 quarts of cream in this mixer. It also has a lid so that you won't splash the kitchen when you are mixing, and the cookie paddles won't overwork your butter.
- Add your cream, put on the lid, and set it to speed 2-3.
- Peek in at it every couple minutes, as depending on your cream, you could see the butter "split" in a couple minutes or up to 15.
Using a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
- Only use 1 quart of cream in this mixer, no matter what size you have, and use the paddle attachment.
- Add your cream and put on the splash guard if you have one or drape the entire mixer in a kitchen towel. This will get messy!
- This takes a good 15 minutes before the cream thickens and the butter "splits." Make sure you are watching and listening because you'll want to shut the mixer off right away then so the buttermilk doesn't splash out.
- Place a large colander inside/over a large pot or bowl so you can strain the butter and save the buttermilk. Knead the butter some to remove excess buttermilk. If it is too squishy, set the colander over cold water for about 20 minutes and try again.
- Knead the butter in a bowl of cold water, using your hands or a flat wooden spoon. I use about 2-3 quarts of water for a pound of butter. If you have pigs, they will enjoy this rinse water!
- You can also knead and wash the butter under low pressure running water if you aren't saving the water. This is faster but not always as thorough.
- Repeat washing 2-3 times until the water is clear. At this point you can salt your butter if you want, about 1 teaspoon per pound.
- Shape your butter as desired. I like to weight mine in 4 ounce portions and pat out in rectangles that fit my butter dish. This way I can grab one from the freezer when the dish is empty and it fits right in. It also makes it easy to use for baking.
- Freeze for a year, or use a butter dish or butter crock to keep it fresh on the counter. You will learn how long it lasts depending on weather, season, and your kitchen.
- It always depends on how much cream you get from your cow, but approximately one quart of cream will yield one pound of butter with 2 cups of buttermilk.
- The "buttermilk" you get from the mixer can be used in place of milk in any recipe. While called buttermilk, it isn't cultured so it isn't nice and thick like what you buy at the store.
- Butter freezes so well, so don't worry about making too much. There's no such thing as too much butter. Just remember that without salt you will definitely want to freeze it as salt acts as a preservative.