Saturday, September 29, 2012

Another Good Use of Electricity

Back when we weaned Gusto, we suddenly were overwhelmed with milk. It seemed a fine time to learn to make butter. The children and I have made butter in a jar, shaking and shaking and shaking the jar until finally some globs separate. It was tedious and long, and I really do not think my children learned much from it. My friend has made butter in her daisy churn; she was unimpressed with the "convenience", but she believes it's a good alternative if she ever has to make butter without electricity. I have also made butter using a food processor, but the results were less than thrilling. Faced with all this milk, I needed to choose a method of butter making.

I did what many homesteaders do these days, at least the ones lacking knowledgeable elders, I turned to the internet. These first method I found different from those already listed was to use an upright mixer. Some of you may be wiser or more farsighted or more experienced than I am and you may already know what happened. For those of you lacking these traits that I lack, I will tell you- it was an unholy mess. There was cream on the cupboard doors and cream in the drawers and cream on the stove and cream on the floor and cream on me and really just cream everywhere. To top it off, it took FOREVER to whip into butter, maybe as long as 45 minutes. I went back to the drawing board and pondered the lovely convenience of the tidy sticks of butter one buys at the grocery store.

I decided to try the food processor again with a little phone support from a friend who makes all the butter they use. It is perhaps the very best reason for owning one of these noisy machines. After ten minutes, I had butter floating in butter milk.

I think the reason the food processor did not work when I tried it before had to do with the temperature of the cream. It was in Texas and I did have a toddler and preschooler "helping", and I am not sure the butter did not go too long or that the ten minutes it takes seemed more like 45 with two children under foot.

So, this information is already widely available on the internet, but to keep you from looking further, here's what you do. Allow the cream to separate from the milk; this only works with raw, unhomogenized  milk. If your milk has traveled much, it may not separate very well. When you can clearly see the line between the milk and the cream, skim the cream off the top of the jar (this is a bad time to have milk in a jug) and put it into another jar or straight into the food processor. The cream is much easier to skim and make into butter if it is chilled.

 Now, put the cream into the food processor with the spinning blade thing that sits in the bottom and turn it on. Sometimes the butter will make in under five minutes and sometimes it might take fifteen. The trick is to pay some attention because if it goes too long and gets too warm, you have to chill it and start again.
 The sound will change, and you might open it to see something like whipped cream. Let it keep going. You might open it again and see something like whipped butter; let it go just a little longer.
What you should see when you open it should look clearly like butter floating in milk.

So, gently pour off the milk- ideally not down the pipes as it will some day cause you untold sorrow. Run a little cold water into the food processor and pulse the butter. Drain it again. Add the cold water and pulse again. Drain.

Now is a good time for a wooden bowl. I do not work the butter much in this bowl, but I do give it a couple of turns to get a bit more of the buttermilk out of it. The butter will keep longer the more free of buttermilk it is. We freeze our butter, so this is less of an issue.

Put it into jars that do not have shoulders, seal them up (not canned), and put them into the freezer.

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