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.
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.
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:
Then I put the lid on, and switched the processor on for a few minutes.
First it looked like this:
Then it got thicker:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!