Making butter from raw cream

Step 1: Collect the cream.

Traditionally, cream was skimmed from the milk over a period of days till enough was gathered. Nowadays, hopefully this is as simple as asking your raw milk supplier for some. 1 litre (or 1 quart) will probably be as much as your food processor will hold.

Step 2: Souring the cream (optional).

When cream was collected over a period of days, it was already naturally soured by the time there was enough. If you want a cultured butter (like many European butters), leave your raw cream at room temperature for about 8 hours. Otherwise, you will have sweet butter, the kind of butter found in most NZ, UK or US supermarkets.

Step 3: Get the cream temperature right.

The butter won’t separate from the cream if it’s too hot or too cold. Room temperature is best. If your cream has been sitting out on the counter you can ignore this step. This step was very important in the days when butter was made with a churn. With a high speed, high power food processor, it should still work OK if the cream is straight from the fridge. Don’t let it get too hot though. It should not be even close to the melting point of butter.

Step 4: Churn your cream.

Put a steel blade into your food processor, and tip in the cream. Don’t fill it more than half full. The processor first turns it into whipped cream, then after a couple of minutes it rather abruptly separates into butter and buttermilk. The food processor will sound different when this happens. It takes about 5-10 minutes total.

Step 5: Separate the butter from the buttermilk.

Tip the butter and buttermilk into a strainer over a jug. The buttermilk will go into the jug, leaving the butter in the strainer.

Step 6: Remove all the remaining buttermilk from the butter.

Place the butter into a wood, stainless steel or glass bowl. Using a butter paddle, or a wooden spoon, work the butter back and forth on the sides of the bowl. As the buttermilk comes to the surface pour it out of the bowl and into the buttermilk jug.

Step 7: Wash the butter.

Pour a small amount of very cold water into the bowl and work the butter like you did before. As the water becomes discoloured, pour it out (and throw it away) and pour in more cold water and continue to work it. Continue this process until the water remains clear. Yiou can also do this step in the food processor. (Note: It is important to work all the buttermilk out of the butter as it will go rancid if you don’t.)

Step 8: Add salt.

Sprinkle in ½ teaspoon of salt per ½ pound of butter and mix it in. Then taste it. If it is too salty for your taste, you can put in more cold water and work it through the butter as you did before. The salt will gradually migrate into the water.

Step 9: Put into molds.

If you’re keeping it for personal use, you don’t need to do this step. Just pat it dry with a paper towel, pack it into a container with a lid and store in the fridge.

What do I do with the buttermilk?

  • You can drink it.
  • If it’s from cultured cream, it is great for soaking flours or for tenderising meat.
  • It also makes a good skin tonic.
  • This page has a few recipes that use buttermilk.