Although butter has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians, when you think about making butter, odds are you’re picturing the wooden butter churns of the pioneers and an overworked farm wife cranking away at the paddle. It went that way for a long time, but eventually those labor-intensive churns faded away, replaced by large glass jars with mechanical paddles (think egg beater) which eased the process. But by the late 1800s, commercial dairies were distributing affordable packaged butter and the age-old chore of churning butter at home faded away. Until now.
With a growing trend toward urban homesteading, artisanal food and general DIYing, home-churned butter is on the rise. Hand-crank churns are available and you can even produce a passable butter by putting heavy cream in a jar and shaking like the dickens for longer than is fun, but for those of us who like a little modern convenience in our homesteading, fresh, preservative-free butter can be made at home without the need for bulging biceps. Break out the stand mixer and let’s get started!
Using a spatula, work the butter into a ball and transfer it into a bowl of ice-cold water. Knead gently to work remaining buttermilk out of the butter. The water will become grayish. This will extend the shelf life of the butter and prevent the development of a “sour milk” smell. If you plan to use the butter immediately, you can skip this step.