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Cultured Butter

October 5, 2015

Ever seen cultured butter in the grocery store? This is butter in which the cream has been cultured before the butterfat is separated from the buttermilk, yielding a butter with a tangy flavor. Cultured butter looks delicious, but it can go for upwards of $10 a pound. So I decided to try making it at home.

First, culture your cream. You can use yogurt starter, fresh yogurt, kefir granules or even let the cream sit around a while to pick up microbes from the air. I went with yogurt starter.

I was skittish about the 24-48 hour incubation that most cultured butter recipes called for, so I decided to culture the cream in warm water for 8 hours. Here’s the setup:

It worked. By the end of the afternoon, the cream looked and smelled like yogurt.

I’ve read advice to get your cream good and cold before trying to churn it and I’ve also read to work at room temperature. One way seems to work for some people, the other way seems to work for others. The method of churning also seems to depend. As you’ll see below, the cream for me was a fickle beast.

I split the batch in half and beat the first half with a hand mixer. I got whipped cream pretty quickly:

Then I got really stiff whipped cream:

Then I got whipped cream that looked wrong, but the fat globules still wouldn’t separate from the liquid:

At this point I had been standing there beating the cream for half an hour, when the instructions I’d read said it would take 5-10 minutes. I gave up and tried the other batch in the food processor:

Boom! Butter. Those globs of butter you see there took less than a minute to form. Don’t know why, never did get the hand mixer batch to work.

Anyway, I took the mixture of butter and buttermilk out of the food processor and ran it through a strainer. I saved the buttermilk, then I rinsed the butter off, added salt, and formed it into a glob. The next morning in the refrigerator it had seeped out more buttermilk, so I drained it. That’s it.

The verdict on taste? The buttermilk tastes exactly like store-bought buttermilk. The butter is tasty, like a very rich cheese. But I think I would want to find a less messy way to do it if I was to make this again.

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