I made cultured butter as preparation for my De Condimentis entry at hilobrow. To get the culture going, I needed unpasteurized milk which I sourced from Lawton’s in Foxboro. It wasn’t the creamiest, but I gather that can be a problem in winter. It was a lovely yellow which, they say, is a sign that the cows are properly grass fed.
The milk took about 8 hours of sitting to separate, and then I bungled the separation (I tried to punch a hole in the bottom of the milk jug to let the milk out, but this, apparently produces too much turbulence and mixes the cream back in) so it took another 8 hours after which I carefully spooned the cream out. I used about 2 cups of cream which isn’t anywhere near enough to make this worthwhile – try a half gallon.
I cultured it with a small spoonful of yoghurt and left it sitting in a warm place for 36 hours – after which it was supposed to turn into butter at the slightest provocation. It needed significantly more help and I ended up (keep this on the down low) using a blender in between steps two and three (below), so the “Voila! Butter!” moment wasn’t. My guess is that it wasn’t warm enough for the cultures to break down the phospholipid membranes that keep the butter fat molecules from coalescing.
After pressing the butter together, it needs some kneading to make sure there isn’t any quick to spoil buttermilk (I actually had no idea that buttermilk was the left over liquid from butter making – I’m not even sure what I thought buttermilk was) left in there. I was, at least delicious.
I also made some ghee out of regular, supermarket style, sweet cream butter. It’s easy and worth doing if you like cooking with butter (as it removes all the elements that give butter such a low smoke point). Slowly heat the butter in a saucepan – it will start to foam as the water boils off, and then foam again as the milk solids begin to cook. When it is clear beneath the foam and has just begun to brown, run it through a fine strainer or a cheesecloth. Ghee! It will keep at room temperature if dry and sealed, and will keep for ages in the fridge.