We originally ran this post in 2015, but we brought it back because we had a hankering for butter and toast.
It’s always more fun to DIY. Every week, we’ll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: Make your own butter in a one-step process using fresh cream, a mason jar, and your bicep strength.
This batch of rustic homemade butter looks right at home in our new embossed ceramic butter keeper by Tjossem Ceramics—and pretty darn cute on burnt toast.
Ever buy a carton of heavy cream when you just need a spoonful? Or maybe you’re fresh out of buttermilk for a recipe, but not that excited about splashing vinegar into some milk to make biscuit dough (though that does work!). Need something to fry your eggs in, but you just used the last pat of butter on a slice of almond cake?
All of these conundrums can be solved with a simple scientific fact that your grandmother knew but might have forgotten to tell you: Butter and buttermilk can be made from shaking the daylights out of heavy cream. In other words, 1 (cream) + 0 (nothing) = 2 (butter AND buttermilk), so call your calculus, biology, and physics teachers and tell them you can graduate on time after all.
Instead of tossing the rest of your leftover cream or running to the store, put it in a mason jar and shake it—in just 15 minutes, the cream breaks into a mass of butter and a puddle of buttermilk. Strain. Spread. Pour. Voilà.
What you’ll need:
Heavy cream (the freshest, most natural you can find)
Mason jar with tight-fitting lid
Salt, if you like your butter salted or demi-sel
How to make butter from cream, one more time, slower:
Pour the cream in a mason jar (leaving plenty of room for air), seal the lid tight, and shake it to pieces—literally. It won’t take long for the cream to become whipped, and then it will get deceptively thicker, but it’s not butter yet! Power past this very whipped cream stage until it breaks: The liquid that forms is buttermilk, and the solid is your butter. We recommend inviting a friend or a strong child to take turns with you, but the whole process takes no more than 15 minutes and is a good chance to practice your cocktail shaking technique.
Strain the buttermilk away and scoop out the butter onto some parchment. If you like salted butter, sprinkle a little on and mash it around to combine. Shape the butter into a log, wrap it in wax paper, and refrigerate to harden. Alternatively, you can press it into butter molds before letting it get cold.
That’s it! When life gives you fresh cream, use some of it to make butter (and don’t think too hard about the math).
If the shake, shake, shake feels like a little much today, our shop carries a clever hand-cranked butter churner. Pour the cream in, put on a podcast, and starting turning the handle. It makes us feel like pioneers—minus the log cabins.
Photos by James Ransom