Butter

Butter

By
From
Spring
Makes
250 g
Photographer
Andy Sewell

I first came across butter making a decade ago while I was attending a Slow Food Harvest Festival at Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School. I had gone to teach there and stayed on to help at the Harvest Festival. After several hours working away, I was searching for a place to hide and rest, so I slipped into one of the cookery rooms. A class on butter making was in progress and I was struck by the simplicity of the process, and drawn in by its romanticism. It was the first time I had really thought about butter, other than how it tasted and which brand I preferred. It was an enlightening moment when I realised that butter was originally made as a way of preserving dairy outside of the milking season. I’ve always prided myself on knowing exactly what was in season – and when – but never in regards to dairy produce. It gave me pause for thought. When I returned home, I tried making butter for myself.

It has only been in the last couple of years that I have made butter on a continual basis and started experimenting with different creams to see which I prefer and how they react. I’ve tried butter beaten until it is hard; whipped so gently that it still contains a little buttermilk; salted and unsalted; washed and unwashed; flavoured with caraway and bone marrow. All are lovely in their own way but this recipe, which is generously salted with really good quality salt, is the one that complements the bread we make better than any other.

It is important to use really good quality cream. I prefer unpasteurised cream, mainly for reasons of taste but also because I believe that it is better for you. I also like to culture the cream, which improves the flavour and gives it the depth and character that I am looking for. You can also wash the butter if you prefer, which is a process of rinsing the butter under cool running water to extract any excess buttermilk that is still contained within. This will give the butter a longer shelf life but I’m happy leaving it in – we make butter daily so it’s not an issue for us.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
600ml organic, unpasteurised cream
2 tablespoons organic, unpasteurised plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon good quality salt

Method

  1. A day ahead of making the butter, put the cream into a bowl. Add the yoghurt and stir well to combine. Place a clean cloth over the top of the bowl and let it stand in a warm place, 21°C ideally, for 8–12 minutes.
  2. The cream is ready when it has thickened slightly and has a gentle foam on its surface. It will also have a mildly acidic smell. Place the cream in the fridge for an hour to chill.
  3. Transfer the cultured cream to the bowl of an electric mixer. Place a clean cloth over the top of the mixer (this will prevent the buttermilk splashing out over the top) and set the whisk speed to medium-high. The mixture will soon turn to thickly whipped cream. As you continue to mix, it will become grainy, then form a mass of butter as the buttermilk quickly separates out. As soon as the buttermilk begins to split from the butter, stop the machine. Remove the butter that has formed with clean hands.
  4. Don’t discard the buttermilk. It has all kinds of uses, such as scones, puddings and salad dressings and will keep for a few days in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  5. At this stage, you can rinse the butter under cold running water, if you wish. Now add the salt and work it in with your fingers until evenly incorporated.
  6. Shape the butter with your hands and wrap in greaseproof paper. Place in the fridge until ready to use; it will keep well for a couple of days.
Tags:
Skye Gyngell
seasonal
Spring
London
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