How to make butter

Picture of a piece of toast and butter on a plate surrounded by pots of butter after I made butter

Dairymaid outfit optional

 

This week, I made my own butter – and it was surprisingly cheap, quick and easy.

The price of butter has rocketed recently. A few years ago, you could get value range butter for under £1 a pack, but now it’s shot up to around £1.50 for a 250g pack even for supermarket own brand. Rising prices may be great for dairy farmers, but aren’t so good for butter fiends on a budget.

(More than 80 other ways to save money on your food shopping here)

Saving money by making your own butter only makes sense if you start with cheap cream. But no, I didn’t get a cow for Christmas. However, I did spot some cut-price cream on the reduced shelves at our local Co-op. At just 10p for a 300ml of pot of double cream, those yellow stickers were calling to me. I figured it was worth a try, and scooped up five.

 

Picture of five 300ml pots of double cream, bought from the reduced section when I made buttter

Double cream at 10p a pot. Bargain.

Ingredients: cream, plus cold water for rinsing. That’s it. You can add a bit of salt for taste, and if you want it to last a bit longer.

Equipment: I used a food processor, a sieve, a bowl to catch the buttermilk and a bowl for squeezing and rinsing the butter.  If you’re lucky enough to have a Kenwood Mixer / Magimix / Kitchen Aid, you can make butter super quickly. You could also do it with a stick blender. You can even do it by hand, with a whisk or by shaking cream in a jam jar – but goodness that would be a lot of effort.

Time: only about 10 minutes, if you have a food processor.

How to make butter

I started by emptying the cream into the food processor:

Picture of double cream in a food processor when I made butter

In the beginning: double cream

Then I put the lid on, and switched the processor on for a few minutes.

First it looked like this:

Picture of cream after it's been whipped in a food processor, when I made butter

…thicker cream

Then it got thicker:

 

Picture of super thick cream in a food processor, when I made butter

…really thick cream

But keep going until suddenly – kerpow – buttermilk splashes up onto the lid of the food processor, and you’re left with lumps of yellow butter!

Picture of lumps of butter and buttermilk in the food processor

Actual butter!

I emptied the contents into a sieve, to drain the buttermilk from the butter, and transferred the butter to a different bowl. Think you could also squeeze it through (appropriately enough) butter muslin, but the sieve worked for me.

Next, I squished the butter about a bit, to squeeze out more buttermilk:

Picture of lumps of butter I squeezed to remove buttermilk when I made butter

Lumps of butter after squeezing out buttermilk

Then I rinsed the butter a few times in cold water, until the water ran clean.

Last step was squidging the butter into little glass dishes, and scraping a knife across the top to make them flat, rather than leaving the butter in one big lump. This meant I could freeze portions, to be retrieved in future.

No dishes? You could also roll it into logs, wrap in greaseproof paper, and twist the ends, to store it.

 

Picture of butter in glass pots plus buttermilk in a measuring job after I made butter

Neat pots of butter.

I kept the buttermilk, and poured it into an ice cube tray, again so I can retrieve blocks from the freezer as and when needed. Each cube is about 25ml. I’ve never tried cooking with genuine butter milk before. I added lemon juice to milk to make this soda bread, but now I’m also looking forward to trying buttermilk pancakes and maybe buttermilk scones.

 

Picture of buttermilk poured into an ice cube tray, so I can defrost smaller portions when needed, after I made butter from cream.

Handy cubes of buttermilk

How much did I save?

I made the butter in two batches. In the end, the 1.5 litres of cream made nearly 1kg of butter, plus about 400ml of buttermilk. The finished product tasted (perhaps unsurprisingly) very creamy and spreads just like the butter I normally buy. But if I’d bought the same quantity of butter, it would have cost £6 plus, rather than 50p!

Top tips for butter making

  • If you’re using short-dated yellow-stickered cream, you’ll need to make butter pronto rather than letting it stick around for days and go off.
  • Apparently double cream and whipped cream work fine, but not single cream.
  • Beware of splash back when the cream finally transforms into butter. Using a food processor with a lid stops you redecorating the kitchen.
  • Don’t skip the squeezing and rinsing stage. Removing buttermilk stops the resulting butter going off so fast.
  • Add some salt if you want it to keep longer.
  • Remember, butter freezes really well. Make a load of small amounts, rather than one big block, and you can stick some in the freezer to get out as and when needed.
  • I decanted the butter into the glass pots from pricey GU puddings, bought cheaply when on offer via the Shopimum supermarket cashback app. (More on supermarket cash back apps here).
  • Make sure everything is scrupulously clean: bowls, sieve, hands, any jars, the lot.
  • Got any leftover cream?  Whizz it up in a food processor to make butter before it goes off.
  • If you’re feeling fancy, you could make flavoured butters to melt over meat or fish, by adding chopped herbs or anchovies.

Now over to you. Ever made butter? Thought of trying but wasn’t sure it was worth the faff? Do say in the comments, I’d love to hear!

 

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17 Comments

  1. January 5, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    This sounds absolutely yummy and fits my rules for being a frugal artist (hits more spots than the saving). One thing that may tempt me to try is that you know what is in your butter; another one that, I bet, it was very tasty. I’ve had a go at making mayonnaise and it is so delish that even my son who doesn’t like mayonnaise loved it.

    • Faith
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 5:47 pm

      Yes, it’s good to know exactly what’s in the butter, unlike some of the weird spreads with goodness knows what additives. Let me know how you get on! And I’d love to know your mayo recipe. My mother used to make it, but I’ve never tried.

  2. January 5, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    This looks very yummy! I’m a bit sad that I don’t think we’ll ever get a food item on discount for 10 cents! A while back I saw a reddit post where someone got a chicken for 10p a pound or something ridiculous.

    A little jealous of England 🙂

    • Faith
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 5:59 pm

      Sometimes we do find real bargains! Back when I did Live Below the Line, feeding myself on £1 a day for 5 days to raise money for charity, I was dancing in the aisles when I found a cheap chicken: https://www.muchmorewithless.co.uk/2014/04/winning-chicken-lottery.html
      Suspect it did not have a long or happy life, which isn’t great, but I was glad to find it when on a super tight budget.

  3. Gill
    January 5, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    I add smushed up roasted garlic cloves to butter (bought or HM). I roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment then freeze in a bag still within the paper. It’s very easy to break off a corner to top a steak, or stir through veg before serving etc.

    • Faith
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 6:20 pm

      Oooh great tip for making and storing garlic butter. Sounds delicious.

  4. January 5, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    Love this Faith, so frugal and tasty too I bet! I’ve pinned this now too. Well done you!

    • January 6, 2018 / 6:23 am

      Thanks for pinning my post Katy! Worth giving butter a try if you come across cheap cream.

  5. Eleanor Campbell
    January 6, 2018 / 12:14 pm

    I’ve made butter before with my Kitchen Aid food mixer. The buttermilk I used to make scones. This Christmas my sister in law bought me a butter maker. It’s a kilner Jar with a paddle inside worked with a handle. I probably will never use it (easier with the food mixer), but it will make an interesting kitchen ornament.

    • January 6, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      Woah hand churned butter sounds like hard work to me – sticking with your food mixer seems sensible! Perhaps you might like to suggest your sister in law has a go with the butter maker next time she comes round…

      • Eleanor Campbell
        January 6, 2018 / 6:03 pm

        It’s actually quite a smooth action Faith. When I was young my father worked in a dairy and brought home cream for my mother to make butter. This was done in an old coffee jar, passed around us kids to take a turn shaking it. One day the girls in the test lab asked what my father did with the cream and he told them, in great detail how to do it. Needless to say after that they took all the cream and my Dad got none. Mother was not pleased, as money was tight those days.

  6. jackie Smith
    January 7, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    I started making butter this week and that buttermilk scone recipe is fab. I made a batch just after making the butter now I want to make bread lol.

    • January 7, 2018 / 4:59 pm

      Glad you’ve been successful at making butter too! And very glad to hear the scone recipe worked well.

  7. Chris
    January 7, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    You could also make ice cream. If you use double cream you can just freeze it you do not need an ice cream maker as there is no water to freeze into ice crystals.

    • January 7, 2018 / 4:59 pm

      What a great suggestion. I love ice cream. Perhaps too much…

  8. January 7, 2018 / 10:49 pm

    Back in the 1970’s, I was a young hippie wife, and I’d drive 30 miles to pick up fresh gallons of milk from a dairy farmer. I would make butter in a ball jar by shaking. And yes, it does take a while. Recently, @ 3 weeks ago, I bought some store cream and made it in the Kitchen aid. It was brilliant and I think tasted way better than store bought. I’m doing it regularly now. Our stores don’t discount like yours( at least where I am in Northern California), so I pay regular price for the cream. Lots of fun especially if you have children involved.

  9. Michelle
    January 13, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Can’t wait to try this, thank you 😀

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