Shades of Ireland

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Butter Making --- my way

Since we are milking 2 Jersey cows ( really more like 1 1/2), we have plenty of cream. Merciful heavens, do we have cream..... I have poured enough milk out at the barn that the cats turn their nose up at it.

Making butter is not very hard but..... it can be a little tricky. I see posts and magazine articles all over touting how easy it is to make butter. They are right but..... not unless you have been around the butter churn a few times.

Speaking of butter churns..... I have one of the old fashioned jars with the spinning paddles in it----- and I hate it. I have used the blender--- and I hate it. Mostly what I hate about them is the clean up! I will state again--- I would rather skin a live cat than do housework and dish washing is the WORST in my opinion.

I use a jar with a tight lid. How big of a jar depends on how much cream I have to churn. That's right--- a plain old jar.

First step is to let the cream rise. I will go ahead and tell you right now that I do not even try to make butter from goat milk. Too much trouble-- especially when I have Holly milk. Goat milk is naturally homogenized so to get enough cream you have to give it lots of surface area. That means large flat pans of milk stored on the counter tops or taking up all the room in the fridge. Nothing is safe on my counter tops for any length of time and I already have three refrigerators--- and that is not enough room for the projects I already have going on.

I usually do not attempt to skim off the cream until after we have had it at least 12 hours. Then, I leave it out on the counter to warm up for another 8-12 hours..... depending on how my day goes and how warm the house is. Room temperature is a relative thing at our house since I am stingy and will not pay any more than I have to for heating or cooling. Trying to make butter with cold cream is pretty darn time consuming and frustrating.

Let me go ahead and fuel the fire on the raw vs pasteurized debate. I do both. If I am making yogurt, I pasteurize because it makes better yogurt. Otherwise, we use all of our milk raw. For 25 years, we have been just fine. I am not changing my ways now. My animals are healthy, my milk is clean and filtered. Good enough.
The bottom line is pasteurized milk and milk products will last longer.

Anyway--- back to butter making. You need at least 1/2 of the jar to be empty to have room for it to slosh around. I wrap it in a dish towel just in case it leaks. I then sit in the recliner, walk around, check the computer or what ever while I slosh it back and forth.

Here is where the controversy about butter making first appears. I cannot tell you why but sometimes I will just be sloshing along and suddenly the sound in the jar changes and magically, we have a large chunk of butter floating around in that jar. Other times, it just will not separate.

This is what it looks like when that happens.

Here is a shot of the inside of the jar.

It is very thick and will not shake or slosh around much any more. Not quite whipped cream but very much like it. At this point, I add cold water. I don't measure how much and in the summer time, I add a cube of ice. In the reading I have done, this is called "breaking water".....

After a bit more sloshing around, the sound of the sloshing will change again and often times, there is a solid "thunk" from the butter.

I let it sit a for a few minutes so that all the little chunks of butter can float up and make one hunk.

Now it is ready to be dipped out of the jar and "washed'. I just put it in a bowl with cold water. I use a fork to press the butter around in the water so that any remaining milk is rinsed out. I change the water several times. If you do not get most of the milk washed out, the butter will turn rancid.

After I get it washed enough to suit me, I add a little salt while it is still pretty soft. The more liquid that you press out, the firmer the butter will get. Adding the salt will help to drive out some of the liquid. Again, I do not have a set amount and just add a dash.

I honestly admit that I have not mastered the art of pressing butter in a mold. I've tried a few times but I just don't have the magic touch there and beside--- it just gives me one more thing to have to wash. I plop it out on a dish and shape it up a bit and call it good.

It generally takes about 15-20 minutes to get butter and another 10 minutes or so to get it washed and salted. This batch is almost half gone because I used the left over milk from the butter churning to make 2 loaves of bread and then spread a lot of it on the dough to finish off all that darn cinnamon roll batch......



  1. Oh, how I wish we had a cow! We only have goats & like you mentioned, getting cream from goat milk is a PAIN....and there's NO way I'm spending $350 for a cream separator! If we had a cow I would be making butter galore! I've made butter a few years ago using store bought cream and used the electric mixer and it seemed to go well.
    Your butter looks wonderful!

  2. Thank you! I love that it is naturally yellow.
    I have a cream separator----- HATE IT!! Washing it is a nightmare.
    I wish that you were closer;I am giving milk to the neighbor to feed a bottle calf.
    Today, I made yogurt, soft chevre, butter and then bread from the whey. I have the stuff set up to make brick cheese, mozzarella and ricotta tonight or in the morning.
    Cinnamon roll dough id FINALLY all baked.