Monday, May 18, 2009

Homemade Raw Milk Butter!

I purchased a raw milk cow share a few months ago. At first, it was just a gallon every other week, and I mostly made yogurt. Recently I upped it to a gallon a week, so now have to find other things to do with all this amazing milk.

My milk comes from a Jersey cow. Jerseys are famous for giving milk with very high milk fat content; I can count on about a quart of cream per gallon of milk. And with that cream, I'm making raw milk butter every week. And I'm here to tell you, it is amazing.

Here's how I do it:
Let the cream rise to the top for about 24 hours in the fridge. Suck the cream off the top of the milk with a turkey baster. Cover the quart canning jar with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours. Seal the jar with a lid and shake the jar until butter starts to form. It usually takes around 10 or 15 minutes. According to my old copy of Joy of Cooking, 50F is the temperature you want the cream to be.

Note: Do not let the butter form into a firm ball in the jar, because once it does, it's very difficult to get all the buttermilk out of it. Stop shaking once butter "grains" start to form.

When the butter has loosely formed, pour it into a mesh strainer (I retain the buttermilk for cooking). Then rinse the butter in cold water. If the curds are loose, they rinse pretty quickly. It's vital that butter be rinsed completely free of buttermilk- otherwise it will go rancid.

Here it is, all rinsed. Now you have to get the little pockets of water out. Hold the bowl upright and use the back of a soup spoon to smear the butter against the sides of the bowl until liquid stops trickling out of it. When no more water comes out, add salt if desired- it helps preserve the butter, but salt is optional. I smooth the final butter into a little bowl and put it in the fridge. Yield is about 1/2 cup of butter from one quart of cream.

And yes, that's the real color- when the cow is grass-fed, that's the color of butter!

17 comments:

Kateri said...

I grew up on raw cream butter. Yum! All of a sudden I am craving it.

Condo Blues said...

I LOVE my 1975 version of The Joy of Cooking. If I'm ever stranded on a desert island I want that version of the book with me, the new ones pale in comparison.

No disrespect but do you worry about chlorestoral (sp) since you drink/eat a lot of buttermilk/butter/cream in whole milk? I'm not doubting raw milk just curious about having so much butter fat in a diet when our lives are usually more sendentary than they were back in the day when more people did heavy farm work and they drank cream, etc.

ilex said...

Ms. CB, it's a perfectly reasonable question. No, I don't worry about cholesterol. Though I'm definitely not a proponent of reductionism in food, grass-fed milk is very high CLA, conjugated linoleic acid (similar to omega 3). CLA helps flush fats from our system- it seems to support the "eat fat, lose fat" theory. I will say, my butter use is pretty seasonal- I favor olive oil when it's warm. And all the garlic I eat can't hurt. I have very high good cholesterol and low bad cholesterol.

There might be a genetic element at work, too- I'm half Swedish, so I could have a genetic predisposition for dairy in my diet.

Rabbits' Guy said...

It's a great story there you have, but I STILL think homogenized milk is really a great invention!

I think 10 years makes you a Michigander. Have you gone over to Beaver Island ever? They have a saying ... "When you get the sands of the Beaver in your shoes it never comes out!" Kind of like all of Michigan .. no place like it!

I too have an old Joy of Cooking and it even gets a peek from Bunny Lady now and then!

Carolyn said...

I have been wanting to try raw milk. I bet the raw milk butter is YUMMY!

PJ said...

This is lovely. My mum-in-law used to make butter, after hubby milked the cow. He knows all about the properties of Jersey cows and said they can make da milk.

chaiselongue said...

How wonderful! This reminds me of when I was a child and used to help my father's cousin make butter on her smallholding in the Welsh mountains. She used a wooden churn with a handle, but the principle was the same. And so was the colour - very yellow from real good milk - and the flavour. You're lucky to be able to get unpasteurised milk.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Yum, I used to make butter, but then our cow share farmer gave us a a bunch of butter for helping with a sheep, we are in butter heaven! and it freezes really well.

Irma said...

Ooo, so jealous that you have access to raw milk! I am still trying to hunt some down in my neck of the woods, but it has to be under the table. (stupid)

Make cheese nect! Make cheese!

furrybutts said...

I actually have never tried raw milk butter.. all I've ever had so far are store-bought butter. The butter you made looks great, I like the strong yellow colour. Hopefully I'll get to try raw milk butter someday, living in the heart of the city makes raw milk hard to come by :)

ilex said...

Furrybutts, raw milk is often easier to find in a city, provided your city has a farmer's market. Ask around at your farmer's market, and you might get lucky.

Plus, you can go to realmilk.com- there are listings for hundreds of cowshares. Look for the "Where" tab.

thebovine said...

Great story. If you can make butter in your condo in Detroit, so can anyone anywhere. How empowering is that?

Hope you don't mind that I excerpted much of your story and pictures for a post on The Bovine blog: http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/making-raw-butter-at-home-in-a-condo/

Meredith said...

That's so cool. I know it's obvious, but I still can't get used to how much more satisfying and just plain good it feels to do stuff like this at home. We just grew some mung bean sprouts in a jar with muslin in the cupboard, which is nowhere near as complicated as butter, but it's crazy - I don't even like them, but I can't wait to eat them! And I'm sure going to be especially careful they don't spoil. Not that anything else has ever spoiled in our fridge...
Anyway, thanks for the inspirational dairy story.

Sarah said...

You are my domestic hero! For real.

Margo said...

I haven't had it that I know of, but I keep coming back & looking at how it looks just like scrambled eggs! Dee-licious...

Say...all this talk of raw milk makes me think of a west coast dairy farmer of my acquaintance... aka Neal Foley: http://gastrocasttv.com/blog/ if you don't already know him, you may want to stop by there.

Jessikita said...

Thank you for posting the recipe and for the pictures--very helpful. Just got my 1st gallon of raw milk today and am looking fwd to the different things that can be made!

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