Making cultured butter at home can be easy and rewarding. While most recipes call for simply agitating cream until it turns into butter, culturing the cream first yields an even tastier butter. (If you want to use cream without culturing it, simply go straight to Step 2.)
Step 1: Culture the Cream
Use one of the following options to culture the cream. You can use either raw or pasteurized cream for all methods except the last one.
- Add a tablespoon or two of piimä yogurt or cultured buttermilk (homemade or store-bought) to a pint of room-temperature heavy cream. Stir and cover with a towel. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. You can make larger quantities, using the same ratio of 1 to 2 tablespoons culture to 1 pint of cream.
- Heat cream to 77°F, and add 1/8 teaspoon of Direct-set Buttermilk and Sour Cream Starter Culture to up to 4 gallons of cream. (Do not use less than 1/8 teaspoon even if you are culturing only a pint of cream.) Mix well to evenly distrubute the starter culture in the cream. Incubate the mixture at 74° to 77°F for 16 to 18 hours.
- Heat cream to 77°F, and add 1/8 teaspoon of Flora Danica Culture or Mesophilic Aromatic Type B Culture to up to a gallon of cream. (Do not use less than 1/8 teaspoon even if you are culturing only a pint of cream.) Mix well to evenly distribute the starter culture in the cream. Incubate the mixture at 74° to 77°F for 12 hours.
- Add Milk Kefir Grains or powdered Kefir Starter Culture to cream. Allow the cream to culture for 12 to 24 hours if using kefir grains (until desired taste is achieved) or 12 hours if using a powdered starter culture. If using kefir grains, be sure to remove the kefir grains from the cream before agitating the cream to make butter.
- If using raw cream, allow the cream to sit on the counter for 12 to 48 hours. Please note: allowing raw cream to culture naturally does not normally yield as desirable a taste as using a starter culture but it is a traditional method of making cultured butter. Starter cultures can be used with raw cream if a more consistent flavor is desired. Do not attempt this method using pasteurized cream!
Whichever method you use, when the cream is cultured, put it in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours to halt the culturing process.
Step 2: Turn the Cream into Butter
- Remove the cream from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
- If using a Kitchen Aid Mixer, place the bowl in the freezer for a few hours prior to making butter.
- Place the cream in the bowl and turn the mixer on as high as you can without splattering the cream. Watch the mixture carefully. Within a minute or two, the cream will have thickened a bit and you should be able to increase the mixer speed.
- Continue to watch the cream carefully as a cold bowl and room-temperature cream should set to butter quickly. Once this happens, it’s very easy to spray the remaining liquid (traditional buttermilk) all over the kitchen so be sure to turn the mixer down once chunks of butter form to allow the chunks to come together.
- If making butter by hand, simply pour the pint of cream into a quart-size jar with a lid. Shake the cream vigorously (good job for kids) until small balls of butter form. Then slow down the shaking so the balls of butter can clump together.
- Remove the butter to a small bowl (or just your hands). Wash the butter with filtered water, pressing out any remaining buttermilk with a spoon. When the water runs clear, the butter should be free of buttermilk. This portion of the process is very important as leaving buttermilk in the butter will cause the butter to spoil quickly.
- Salt the butter if desired. (Tip: if you accidentally over-salt the butter, just rinse it under water to remove the excess salt.) You can also add herbs if desired.
- Wrap the butter in wax paper and store in the freezer or refrigerator, or on the counter. (Butter will spoil at room temperature within a few days so use it quickly).