How to Make Your Own Butter

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When you pass the dairy case at the grocery store, butter is probably a standard item on your list. Next time you’re at the store, instead of buying butter, why not try buying cream and making your own butter from scratch instead? It’s surprisingly fast and easy, and requires only two ingredients and a food processor! The end result is much tastier than store-bought butter, and you can decide how much salt to use, or even to use herbs or other natural ingredients to make gourmet flavored butters.

How to Make Your Own Butter

Once you’ve made butter, you’ll be stunned at how simple it is, and you’ll want to make it for everyone you know.


Ingredients and Tools Needed:

  • whipping cream
  • salt
  • herbs if you wish to make herbed butter
  • a food processor
  • a large mixing bowl
  • a sieve (refrigerate it to keep it cold)
  • parchment paper

Here’s How to Make Half a Pound of Butter:

  1. Buy one pint (473 mL) of whipping cream. Look for one that has cream as its only ingredient, rather than including thickeners like carrageenan and cellulose gum.
  2. Pour the whipping cream into a food processor and start it up. This process is called churning, and it used to be done by hand using large wooden churns.
  3. The cream will start to whip. This is where you’ve probably stopped working with whipping cream in the past, but keep going! Keep the food processor running. The cream will collapse and turn yellow and grainy, and you’ll start to see some liquid sloshing about. It’s quite obvious when it happens, so don’t worry you’ll miss it. Stop the processor right away to avoid making the butter too greasy.
  4. Pour the contents of the food processor into a cold sieve to drain off the liquid (keep that liquid, though – it’s buttermilk, and it can be used for cooking). Rinse the butter with cold water until it runs clear.
  5. Put the butter into a bowl and, using very cold hands (run them under cold water), knead the butter to remove the water.
  6. Pour off the water, then add the desired amount of salt: 1/2 tsp for regular butter, 1/4 tsp for low-salt butter, or less (or even none) if you prefer. Work it into the butter with your hands, then form into your desired shape. Wrap in parchment paper (or foil), and store in the fridge.
  7. Try adding herbs or citrus zest to create flavored butters.

Recipe adapted from 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes of Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, BC.

About the Leftover Buttermilk

The buttermilk left over from your butter making will not look anything like the buttermilk you buy in the store. You’ll have made “traditional buttermilk,” while the buttermilk in the store is called “cultured buttermilk.” It’s made from milk that’s had lactic acid added. You can – and should – use your leftover buttermilk in cooking, but the results will be a bit different than you’d get using store-bought buttermilk because it’s thinner and less acidic. We made pancakes, and found they were less fluffy than they would be with store-bought buttermilk, but equally delicious!

The Bottom Line

Making butter at home is unbelievably simple and incredibly satisfying. You can custom-tailor your butter to get the exact taste you love, and experiment to create something that’s truly gourmet.

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