Sunday, September 16, 2012
I am a fairly typical 21st century American woman. I work full-time outside of the home. I pay someone to care for my child every weekday. I go to the gym. I text. I enjoy an occasional latte. I will splurge on a pair of killer heels. I own an iPod. I manage all of my household's finances.
And, as of today, I make butter.
I thought making butter involved churning, like I needed a special barrel with a big churning stick, a gingham apron, and an extra two hours of time to continuously pump and stir, slowly transforming liquid to solid while dripping sweat from your brow salted the cream. And this is all after you've gone out and milked the cow yourself, of course.
How silly of me. With the miracle invention known as the KitchenAid mixer, making butter is spectacularly easy. Not as easy as throwing a few sticks of butter in your cart at the grocery store, but there is something empowering about knowing how to make pantry staples. All you need to make butter is a mixer and a carton of heavy cream.
Heavy cream can be expensive, but my local grocery store needed to unload a few crates of it before they hit their expiration date, cutting the price in half. I used some of the cream in meals and doused a few peaches with the stuff, but I still had quite a bit left. After reading the gorgeous cookbook The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila and discovering that butter is just heavy cream whipped to the point of separation, a light bulb went off for me and I had to try it.
I poured the cream in my mixing bowl, sprinkled in a heavy pinch of salt, and using the paddle attachment on my mixer, starting whipping. At first, it whipped the cream; then the whipped cream started to come apart, and after a few minutes, I glanced over and it had finally separated, chunks of butter sitting in a white pool of buttermilk. Magic.
Instead of a recipe, watch this beautiful video from The Homemade Pantry's Alana Chernila. She has her mixer on medium speed; I cranked mine up to 10 with no problem. Don't skimp on the pressing/rinsing part at the end; without pressing out all the buttermilk, your butter can go rancid quickly. And of course, save that buttermilk! I made cornbread to go with a big pot of venison chili I cooked up, but you can use it in muffins, pancakes, buttermilk fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits...
Perhaps my favorite part of the video: she uses the butter to make radish sandwiches! Alana and I are destined to be best friends, I just know it.