Saturday, February 18, 2012

A dairy in your kitchen: Cultured Butter

I love butter. Always have. According to my parents, I used to pick up butter pats from the table and shove them in my mouth as a toddler. About 15 years ago, I discovered cultured butter in a market, and also discovered why some of the butter I’d eaten long before, in Europe, tasted so much better than what I’d eaten at home. Butter made with cultured or fermented cream has a fuller, rounder flavor, and it was pretty hard to find in most Philadelphia supermarkets. I snagged my first batch from my local Whole Foods. Unfortunately, it was, and still is, significantly more expensive than regular, uncultured butter.

It’s such an easy thing to make at home, if you have that homemade crème fraîche I showed you how to make last year, ice water, and either a food processor or an electric hand mixer. You can use a blender, too,  but it’s hard to get all the butter out at the end. You may want to have some nice fine sea salt if like salted butter. You are just going to churn it in your chosen machine, wash away the whey, press out the liquid, and season as desired. And then grab some good bread and stuff your face.

Everyone is always wowed by homemade butter; you can vary it with different minced herbs added to it, garlic, fresh or roasted, and any seasoning you can imagine. Curry butter over steamed asparagus, or chili butter over corn…mmmmmm.

Cultured Butter

2 cups homemade crème fraîche
1 quart or more ice water
1/8 teasp. fine sea salt (optional)

Fill a 1 quart measure or bowl with a pouring lip with water and ice cubes. Place the metal blade in your food processor, and add the crème fraîche. It’ll thicken and then begin so separate into curds and whey in a couple of minutes.

Stop the machine, and carefully, holding back the curds (butter!) and the blade, pour off as much as the whey as you can. You can either feed it to your dog, water plants with it, or toss the whey since there really won’t be enough to actually make something else from it. If you are using a beater and bowl, just pour off the whey.

Replace the work bowl on the machine; add about 1/3 of your water and ice, and start running the machine again. Pour off the milky looking water again. Repeat until you’ve used up your ice water, and the water looks fairly clear in the machine. If it’s still very milky, make more ice water. Washing out as much whey as you can, the whey can turn sour in a few days and spoil your butter, plus wet butter splatters like crazy if you cook with it at all. You should have something left in your bowl that resembles pale yellow fine curd cottage cheese.

All that’s left now is to take it out of the processor, place in a clean bowl and with a flexible spatula, start pressing on it to push out as much water as you can, and create a nice, smooth butter. When you don’t see any more little water bubbles in the butter, you are done. Stir in the salt if you want salted butter and store in the fridge. Makes about 1 cup.

No comments:

Post a Comment