As with most mass-distributed foods, we’ve grown accustomed to a perpetual supply of milk products. Our distance from the land is so thorough that most of us have no idea, for instance, how the flavor of milk changes as the seasons progress or in what months dairy products are made.
Butter, for instance, is easiest to make in the summer, when the fat content of milk is high. As the winter sets in, the milk of cows and other dairy animals becomes thinner, just before they stop producing. Talk to any local creamery and they’ll tell you that cheeses produced with spring milk taste different the ones made late in the summer. Milk changes to accommodate the nutritional needs of calves, lambs or kids. And the turf they’re eating takes on different qualities as the year progresses. A local tomme that ripens in February tastes like summer grass.
Late this past summer, we bought cream from a local dairy and made our own butter. It’s easier than you think. Put the cream in a heavy stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add a pinch of salt if you like and turn it on high. The cream will froth and turn to whipping cream first, then break into curds, which will solidify and meld together into butter.
Drape a kitchen towel around the opening of the mixer bowl: The butter will stick to the whisk and slap against the sides of the bowl, causing the liquid byproduct (buttermilk) to fly out of the bowl. Best to stay nearby so you can shut it off immediately. (The uncultured buttermilk is different than the kind you buy in the store, but save it to use in your baking.)
PUT THE CREAM IN A HEAVY STAND MIXER FITTED WITH A WHISK ATTACHMENT. ADD A PINCH OF SALT IF YOU LIKE AND TURN IT ON HIGH.
Remove the butter and rinse it under cold running water, kneading it with your hands to remove every trace of buttermilk. If any is left, the butter will spoil more quickly. If it gets too warm, knead in a bowl of ice water.
The process took five minutes in our mixer. Three pints of summer cream yielded more than a pound of butter.
Fresh butter stores well in the freezer, but if you want to spread it on our morning toast, pack a small amount in a butter keeper on the kitchen counter.
Many of us store our butter in the refrigerator out of habit. But cold butter is less flavorful than butter stored at room temperature. And its high fat content makes it less susceptible to bacterial growth (this is especially true for salted butter). For this reason, the FDA takes a more lenient stance on butter than it does on other dairy products. It’s fine covered and at room temperature for a short while, they say. Which is good news for spreadable butter with full flavor.
YOU CAN PACK FOUR OUNCES OF HOMEMADE BUTTER INTO OUR DRY SHINO GEM JAR...WASH THE CONTAINER AND REFILL IT FOR SOFT, SPREADABLE BUTTER THAT’S ALWAYS ON HAND.
You can pack four ounces of homemade butter into our Dry Shino Gem Jar, the right amount for several days’ worth of morning toast. Wash the container and refill it for soft, spreadable butter that’s always on hand.
Until next time,
The Mastro Team