Lord Love a Duck!!!! In the whirling craziness of an Alaskan summer, I thought "Well, I'll spend a lot of time sitting and relaxing in the winter". What was I smoking? There are kid's projects, performances, wants, need and trips; Christmas gifts that need to be done; teenager sewing projects that turn out to need more mom help because she chose the fabric specially knit by the devil himself to make a saint swear.
In addition to making progress on the cute purple dress of the fabric of eternal despair, I also managed to make butter today. This isn't terribly unusual or difficult but, for a change, I remembered to weigh it all so that I could figure out how it compares in price to the organic or Kerry Gold butter from Costco. There was a nagging worry in the back of my head that I might be making the world's most expensive butter. Every few weeks, I get a gallon of cream from my cow share and just make it all into butter. At $16 a gallon, that's some expensive butter for just a pound or so.
Fortunately, I found today that my gallon of cream produces the equivalent of 3 boxes of Kerry Gold (3 8 oz bricks per box = 4.5 lbs total) plus 1/2 gallon of buttermilk So $16 of cream made me $24 worth of butter plus buttermilk. It's nice when better nutrition costs less! When we lived outside I met a guy who was selling contraband blackmarket raw butter for $10 per 8 oz container- and selling out every week. Bless him- it warms the cockles of my cranky little Libertarian heart. All that free enterprise and free choice and personal responsibility and farmers making a decent living without a subsidy in sight!
To make butter:
I use my Kitchenaid and break the gallon into 3 batches. You need your mixer bowl, a big bowl to drain the buttermilk into and a bigger bowl to wash the butter; the whisk attachment for the mixer; a mesh strainer; salt; paper towels or good, clean, fine linen; parchment paper.
pour about 1/3 of a gallon of the cream into your mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Turn it on to about 7 and let it run. First you will have whipped cream. Let it keep going past the whipped cream stage until it breaks and separates into clumps of butter and liquid. Pour the contents of the mixer bowl into the strainer with another bowl underneath. The stuff that runs into the bowl is buttermilk. The butter solids now in the strainer need to be 'washed'. Dump them into your bigger bowl and run cold water over it and swish/squish the butter around in the water . Pour it all back into the strainer.
Next take the butter out of the strainer and squeeze it to push the water out of the fat. A last squeeze in a paper towel pulls out more. When you've got all the water out that you can get, salt your butter lightly and roll it into a log and wrap in parchment paper.
Repeat this process with the other 2/3s of the cream. I put two of my logs of butter into a gallon ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer, the third goes into the fridge for use.
If I had hogs or chickens to feed scraps, I would add my butter rinse water to the scraps to really milk every calorie and nutrient out of the cream I buy. Sigh. Soon. Hopefully this time next year instead of complaining about having to plow myself I'll be complaining about having to feed and water in the snow. And a few years past that I'll have been forced to find something new about which to whine since my beautiful New England style barn will be attached to the house, saving me from ever needing to get my dainty little feet snowy.