I remember the first time I made butter. I was 21 and newly married to a dairy farmer. He would bring home milk in glass jars each morning for breakfast. I remember staring at the jars in our fridge and thinking how obtuse they looked compared to the pre cut bagged vegetables and cellophane wrapped chicken. The milk felt primal but also intriguing. I watched the cream separate to the top and began to sneak sips of cream for my coffee or sometimes just straight out of the jar. I wanted it thicker, it was the fat, the butter I was after.
I remember reading some blog articles (this was in the days before youtube tutorials) and one woman boasted how easy it was to make butter in a blender. I carefully separated the cream and poured it into the vitamix. I set the speed to high and waited, and waited. The cream started to steam from the top and as I peered inside all I found was hot frothy liquid, no curds.
Disappointed I scoured the internet again to no avail. I was determined this time however. I started to think about the process of a butter churn, the motion it made. What did I have in my house that could be slow and consistent, like kneading bread? Alas my kitchen aid with the paddle attachment might work! I chilled the cream and tried again and after 10 minutes I heard a whoosh from the kitchen aid bowl and just like magic the curds broke free from the milk and I had butter!
I remember baking a fresh loaf of bread and surprising my husband that night I was so proud. Homemade butter became a novelty then. I would set cream aside during holidays and serve it sparingly. We enjoyed it but I never thought anything more if it. I continued to buy bricks of butter for $3 from the store to use in baking and recipes.
Years later my health began to dwindle. I started to get so sensitive to foods and environmental things. We were already extremely conscious of what we ate. Mostly we would grow our own vegetables and meat. Trips to the grocery store were only required for dairy products and the occasional treat of organic fruit. Yet I still felt sicker. So I cut out all pasteurized dairy.
When the farm stopped shipping our milk on the truck all of a sudden we had copious amounts of leftover milk on non store days. We bought a cream separator which made skimming the cream so much simpler and consistent. I looked at the pots of cream to the left of my counter and the pots of skim to my right and thought what do I do now?
I made quick work of churning the butter by the gallons in the kitchen aid. Then I again turned to the internet for raw milk recipes but ten years later I still had little luck finding much. I ordered some 100 year old books from etsy shops and found recipes for clabber cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and so much more. The first bite I took of fresh cottage cheese was life changing…“Im never going back!” I proclaimed to my husband. I don’t care how long it takes me and how many dishes I have to wash I will NEVER eat store bought dairy again.
I learned how to culture the cream into a thick custardy consistency. The first time I did it I uncovered the jar and sniffed. Pleasantly I was surprised by its sweet and slightly sour aroma. I churned it into butter and the result was so satisfying. The buttermilk was thick still and incredibly rich. The butter turned a deep yellow almost orange and the flavor was complex with many wonderful notes. I write this article this morning after making over 20 pounds of butter. I carefully washed, weighed and wrapped each pound in wax paper, then rolled them into a tootsie like log. My fridge is packed and soon my freezer will be too. Yogurt is incubating in the cooler from the skim milk and there’s about 3 pounds of marinating ricotta waiting to be consumed for breakfast. Now instead of primal it feels almost powerful……
To be Continued.