Friday, August 15, 2014

Maggie's Milk: Butter Edition

Anyone else noticed how expensive dairy products have gotten lately?  In the last year, I've watched butter creep up from $7.50 for four pounds at Costco to just over $11.  That's expensive! 

And it makes me thankful I have some cows.

I don't normally make butter.  We usually just use the whole milk cream and all.  But, with butter getting so expensive, I decided to see if it'd be worthwhile.  So I saved milk for three days and dumped it into the great churn my parents got me for Christmas a couple years ago (thanks!).

I started turning the crank.  And had some helpers do it as well.

45 minutes later we were still turning.  And I was getting desperate.  So I used Google.  Did you know that you're supposed to have room temperature cream before making butter?  I sure didn't!  Ours was really cold. 

But, I also found something else interesting.  You can make butter in the blender!  And it doesn't need to be warm to do it.

So we dumped the cream we'd been working on forever into the blender and let it go.  Actually I just dumped half in at a time.  Remember that cream expands and you don't want a mess! 

I turned it on, and just a few minutes later--we had butter! 

Ugh. After all that work, seeing the blender do it so quickly was a bit frustrating. But on the bright side, I got a great arm workout that day!

After pouring off most of the buttermilk for the pigs (since I make cultured buttermilk for our use), I got out some special butter making tools.

That bowl and paddle?  Those were my Grandmother's.  And I'm now the third generation in the family to make butter with them.  That kind of brings some family history to life!

After the butter was washed and the water and buttermilk were out, we added a bit of salt and wrapped it in plastic wrap. 

And later we spread it on bread.  Yum!

The verdict?  It was good, but I need to figure out a way to measure it better.  I'm thinking using a half cup measuring cup and packing it in and then wrapping.  Or else weighing.  Haven't thought that far ahead yet. 

I don't think I can make enough to not have to buy butter at all, but I do think I'll keep making it.  If I separate the cream on 4 gallons a week, that still leaves some for drinking whole.  And I can make chocolate milk and yogurt from the skimmed stuff.

Next year--next year Annie will freshen.  And she's half mini-Jersey.  I think her cream content will be better.  And I'm looking forward to butter from her.  But for now...I will keep making some butter regularly to help reduce the cost of food.

And I'll try it with warm cream to see if it's more manageable in the churn.  But if not, there's always the blender!

Do you make your own butter?  Any tips on measuring or making the churn work better?

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