Guys, this is the real deal. Homemade butter and homemade buttermilk using heavy cream.
Make homemade butter and buttermilk at the same time.
It’s basically a two-fer. When you make butter, you get buttermilk as a by product. What a beautiful thing! Especially considering the whole process takes about 15 minutes all said on done thanks to modern kitchen tools.
Go modern or go old school.
Your choice. You can use a blender, a food process or a mixer. Or, if you’re a gluten for punishment, you can use an old fashion butter churn like we do. 🙂 The kids think it’s fun and I tell myself that I’m burning calories in order to feel justified when I slather a piece of bread with butter and chow down.
Believe it or not, you can actually purchase butter churns on Amazon.
Cheesecloth is helpful for making homemade butter.
So once you sort out what tool you want to use to make your butter and buttermilk, you’re truly half way there. Just beat the heavy cream until is separates, pour off the buttermilk and save it for something yummy (ideas below).
Then you’ll need to rinse and knead the butter to get out the rest of the buttermilk. The best way to do this is using cheesecloth. Some recipes will tell you to press it out with a spoon but I have a hard time imagining how that works. You’ve got to really knead the butter fat to get all the milk out, then rinse it several times under cold water. Cheesecloth acts as a strainer for you to do that really easily. You can buy cheesecloth at some groceries stores or online. Shop cheesecloth on Amazon.
What happens if you don’t get all the buttermilk out of your butter?
Basically, bad things. You want to take a little extra time to make sure you squeeze all the buttermilk out.
Why though? Well, first, you don’t want your butter to be milky because this will make things like your toast soggy instead of nice and crispy. Second, the buttermilk will start to go bad quickly. So guess what happens to your butter then? Yup. It starts to taste rancid. Not good if you’re going for the creamy, salty butter taste.
Can you make butter out of pasteurized heavy cream?
In short, yes. But there’s a looooong answer to this because you need to understand that pasteurization is a process that heats raw milk to get rid of certain bacteria and ultimately makes the milk last longer on the shelf. Some argue that nutrients are also lost with the pasteurization process. You can read more about pasteurization as well as homogenization here.
Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to find a small market or local dairy farm that sells raw milk if you’re interested in getting the health benefits of raw milk and are not afraid of the risks. Read more about the risks of consuming raw milk here.
So, now that you’re more familiar with pasteurization, you need to know that the pasteurization process does not prevent the natural separation process that happens when you churn heavy cream.
Pasteurized or not, the fat or cream, separates from the milk. The reason this separation occurs is because the membranes surrounding the fat in milk are very fragile and they rupture when agitated (source). Once the membranes are rupture, the fat can attach to other fat and eventually begins to form clumps, leaving behind the milk.
Since pasteurized heavy cream does no contain cultures, some say you don’t get as buttery of a taste as you would using raw milk, or when you add cultures back in. However, it’s still quite yummy so you can choose whether or not to take the extra step of adding cultures.
So what about buttermilk? Can buttermilk be made from pasteurized heavy cream?
Yes and no. I’ll explain. But first you’ll be curious to know that the buttermilk you can buy at the store is actually not necessarily real buttermilk. Shocker, I know. I was surprised to learn this myself. The reason though, goes back to pasteurization.
The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria but it also kills active cultures that contain helpful bacteria. You’ve probably heard them called pro-biotics. There are a number of drinks now you can buy that have been re-cultured after pasteurization in order to re-gain those pro-biotics.
So, in a similar way, you can re-culture your buttermilk if you want to sour it naturally. You can purchase culture starters and add them to your buttermilk, follow the instructions for fermenting and you’ll have wonderfully soured buttermilk in just a day or two.
You can also just use buttermilk as soon as you separate it from your butter fat, it will just taste more like milk than the more tart cultured buttermilk.
Can I just add lemon juice or vinegar to the leftover milk to make buttermilk?
You could and that’s a good hack if you don’t want to deal with culturing and all that. But it’s not true buttermilk. True buttermilk goes through a chemical process and produces a different taste and a thicker texture.
When you culture your buttermilk, the fermentation process actually transforms lactose, or sugars found in the milk, into lactic acid. By the way, lactic acid is much easier to digest than lactose, which is appealing if you are lactose intolerant.
So if you’re really after the authentic flavor and smooth, creamy texture of buttermilk, then culturing the milk leftover from making butter, is the way to go. Also if you are lactose intolerant, you may find that cultured buttermilk is easier on your stomach.
Okay, so remind me then how do I culture buttermilk?
You need to add the cultures back into the milk if you’re using pasteurized heavy cream for this recipe. Or buttermilk can be made using raw milk which already contains live cultures.
However, it can be difficult to find raw dairy so you’re only choice may be to use pasteurized heavy cream, and then add cultures back in. You can buy starter cultures for a variety of uses and follow the direction on the package in order to ferment your buttermilk!
Bet you didn’t know this was going to be so complicated.
Luckily making butter and buttermilk is not complicated, but understanding how it all work is pretty complex!
Recipe ideas using homemade butter and buttermilk.
Since homemade butter doesn’t last as long as store bought, you’ll want to use it up quick or freeze it in batches. Try making my chocolate buttercream frosting with homemade butter and see what you think!
It’s also great for everyday cooking. Browse all my recipes to get ideas!
As far as the buttermilk, well you could make buttermilk pancakes. But that’s kinda boring don’t you think? Why not try using your buttermilk to make something a little different! Try my creamed roast beef with Yorkshire pudding? Or my loaded potato soup.