Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making Butter

I got my hands on some raw milk.  I wish I could share the whole story of how that raw milk came into my possession, but well, I plead the fifth.  It feels like what I imagine taking part in a drug deal must be like.  Maybe someone should lobby for the State of Michigan to implement Medical Milk cards for those of us who wish to consume raw milk. . .

Anyway, I got my hands on some raw milk.  It sat overnight in my fridge, and the next morning the bottles (glass 1/2 gallons) had the most beautiful layers of cream on them. Cream that begged to be made into butter.

Well, actually I had a few ideas for the cream and DH said "Make butter."  DH's sudden involvement in this raw milk thing is rather entertaining to me.  For years I've talked about cows and raw milk and our family, and he ranged from skeptical to uninterested to downright negative ("I don't want to be tied down to a cow.")  But when the phone rang that particular night, it was him who was hustling me into the car under cover of darkness. . . Oops, I'm supposed to be pleading the fifth!

Back to the butter.

The cream separated from the milk and rose to the top in the milk bottles (as shown by the red arrow in the picture)

 and I employed a turkey baster to draw it off.  About two cups worth from a gallon of milk.

This I put into a quart canning jar, screwed the lid on tight, and proceeded to shake.  Shake it up, oooh oooh!  Shake it up, oooh oooh!  (My apologies to The Cars. . . you were one of my favorite groups in elementary and middle school and apparently, in my forties, I have not forgotten the lyrics yet.)

So, I shook the jar of cream for a while.  Half hour?  Don't remember for sure.  I was talking with DH while shaking, so the time went quickly and I didn't think to look at the clock.  As I shook the jar, the cream changed from a thick consistency with a yellowish tint, to a watery consistency with a white milky color.  Yellow blobs began to appear floating in the liquid.

When DH and I determined that all the butter had been extracted from the cream, now buttermilk, I drained off the liquid (the buttermilk; which is awesome in banana bread or just cold in a glass as a beverage).

The way I drained it was to place a piece of muslin over the measuring cup, and then slowly pour out the contents of the jar.

When the liquid had all drained through the muslin, or so I thought, I carefully gathered up the muslin around the butter globs and gave a gentle squeeze.  More buttermilk ran out.

So I kept squeezing, wanting to get as much liquid out of the butter as possible.  Unfortunately, I must have squeezed a bit too long--the butter began to come out too!

I stopped squeezing, dumped the glob of butter back into the jar, and carefully used a spoon to scrape up the butter than had been forced through the muslin.  That went into the jar too.

Then I added some water to the jar and used the spoon to mash on the butter, "washing" the butter by turning and mashing the glob with the spoon until the water turned milky. 

Several changes of water later, I could no longer get the water to turn whitish while manipulating the butter through it.  The butter was now done!

At this point, if I wanted salted butter, I could have worked a little salt into it using my spoon, but I decided to leave it unsalted.  I spooned it into a small container so that I could store it.

my beautiful homemade butter!

For kicks, I set it on the counter next to a stick of butter from the store and took a picture, to show how the raw butter differs in color from the 'store butter', which was made from pasteurized milk that had come from cows that most likely had only seen light coming in from the doors and windows of the barn during their lactation, never from above as they roamed in the field.  Unlike my sunny yellow butter, which had been made from unpasteurized milk that had come from pastured cows who had known both sunshine and green grass.

I continue to be a raw milk advocate.  Finally, DH is seeing the light (or, should I say, the yellow), and talking raw milk too.

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