My friend Sabin sounded panicked. “The store is out of butter,” he cried into the phone.
“Calm down,” I replied. “Is there cream?”
“Yes!” he exclaimed. “But how’s that going to help?”
I explained that butter is merely cream and salt and suggested he make butter.
The next day, I stood in Sabin’s enormous well-appointed kitchen. He has every possible high-end gadget and accouterment for which a cook could wish.
He doesn’t cook.
I dusted off his professional-grade Kitchen-Aid mixer and took it for its inaugural spin as I proceeded to show him how to turn cream into butter.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve no doubt stood, dumbfounded, in the aisle of a grocery store and thought, “How can they be out of (insert the desired item here).” But don’t fret.
I may not be able to teach you how to make toilet paper at home, but there are many items you can make from scratch. And chances are they will be better and cheaper than the packaged version you’re used to buying.
Case in point: Delicious, creamy, salty butter. And by the way, butter is healthy and nutritious.
- Real cream (not half-and-half)
- Salt to taste
- Ice water
Connect the whisk attachment to your stand mixer.
Pour the cold cream into the bowl of your stand mixer (you can use any quantity of cream you like. We churned a half-gallon of cream, which yielded two pounds of butter).
Turn the mixer on low until the cream starts to thicken. That way, you won’t splash cream all over your walls, floors, and countertops.
Slowly increase the speed to high as soon the cream is thick enough not to splash and let it beat.
At this point, it’s just like making whipped cream, but you’re going to continue to beat well past this stage. How long you’ll need to whip the cream depends on how much cream you used. Ours took at least 10 minutes.
Once you have a very thick whipped cream, add salt to taste.
Continue to whisk the mixture until the cream turns to curds and whey. (You’ll know when this happens because the mixture will begin to turn yellow and stick to the beater. And water will form at the bottom of your bowl).
Drain the water from the bowl.
Scrape the newly formed butter curds off the whisk and place them back in the bowl. Set the bowl back in the stand of your mixer and reattach your whisk if necessary.
Add 1–2 cups of ice-cold water to the bowl and whisk again at high speed. (you’re rinsing the remaining whey out of the butter curds)
If you start to worry at this point, don’t. It seems counterintuitive to add water — the mixture will begin to look like whipped cream again, which may seem like a step backward. Just keep whisking. Eventually, the curds and whey will separate again.
When they do, drain the water again and assess your butter. It should be firm, yellow, and pliable.
Squeeze the excess water out of your butter using cheesecloth or a towel.
Shape and store your butter any way you choose. If you made quite a bit, store it in the freezer.
Make a piece of whole-grain toast or bagel and slather it with your freshly made butter. Eat and be astounded.