Around the end of October I started seeing various articles mentioning a potential butter crisis in France.* At least two weeks had passed, and my butter purchasing and consumption remained about the same. That is until the end of October, when I went to purchase my standard unsalted (doux) butter at the supermarket and found ALL the cases completely empty with only shelves of margarine available. In that split second I started thinking about what life would be like without butter…and it wasn’t pretty. So I did what any normal person would do – I (mildly) complained on Facebook…and to my delight three friends (Jeff, Margaret, & Lyn) recommended I make my own and assured me it was pretty easy. It’s easy? Make my own? I’d always connected churning butter to things people did in colonial Williamsburg, not something I could do in 2017. But, I had to admit, this was kind of a genius idea. I love artisinal butter at restaurants. Why had I never thought of doing this before? This could be the answer to all my problems, at least until February when this whole mess would be fixed.
*If you’d like to read up on WHY there’s a butter crisis in France, but you haven’t noticed any issue with French butter in your neck of the woods – here’s a great article from the BBC highlighting the details.
I decided to give it a go this afternoon. I found this video on YouTube, promising homemade butter in under 10 minutes. All it required was a KitchenAid mixer, some ice-water, 2 cups of cream, and some towels to account for buttermilk splatter. Easy-peasy. Let’s do this.
I started by pouring 2 cups of cream in the mixer with the splash guard. I’d been told you just let it whip longer than those stiff peaks from whipped cream. At that point the buttermilk will start to separate from the butter. In the video she mentions something like, “this is where you should start to use your towel as there will be some splashing.” What she should say, instead, is “make sure there is absolutely zero way for the buttermilk to escape from your mixer because if you don’t your entire kitchen will be covered in buttermilk.” I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what my kitchen looked like…along with a brief view from the photos below.
Unfortunately, the messy part doesn’t end with the buttermilk separation (thought I am SUPER excited about using said buttermilk for biscuits this weekend), as you need to add ice-cold water 2-3 more times to remove all the moisture from said butter. It’s pretty fast, but also super messy…as the entire bowl, lid, counter was covered in buttermilk, butter water, or butter itself. Eventually, you’ll get all the water/liquid drained from the butter and have a gorgeous homemade butter (below).
I’d say 2 cups of cream yielded about 175g of butter. As I packed the butter into an airtight container, I started surveying our wrecked kitchen and said to myself, “This butter looks good, but this is maybe the messiest thing I’ve ever made. I sure hope this butter shortage gets figured out, fast…I don’t want to do this again.”
Then I toasted some bread and decided to give it a try. Friends, I will be making this butter so many more times. This is the best butter I’ve ever had (though I really love goat butter). The BEST butter. Even better, I spread it with our butter knife from Lake Como.
So Jeff, Margaret, and Lyn – thank you guys so much for encouraging me to make my own butter! Now to try out salted, herb, cinnamon sugar, etc. The possibilities are endless…once I figure out a cleaner way to make it (maybe that food processor).