Homemade Country Butter

   Here is a project you might like to try!  Of course anyone can go down to the grocery store and buy butter or margarine spread right?  But have you ever tried to make butter yourself?  It's very easy really and lot of fun.  This could also be a great kitchen project for those of you with children.  In North Carolina it is still illegal to sell non-homogenized milk so you will find it difficult at the least to buy any milk straight from a cow.  If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you are able to obtain fresh milk from a cow you can make butter right from that milk.  Unfortunately the homogenization process of milk renders it useless for making butter (and loses some flavor, but that is for another article one day).  Here is what you CAN use; heavy whipping cream.  I usually pick up a tall container of heavy whipping cream from Walmart for just a couple of dollars.  You will need a large bowl (at least three times the depth of your cream in the bowl). For those of you who have never made homemade whipped cream, you will discover that the cream will become three times as thick (deep) once it is whipped into cream.  Since you don't want it over flowing or whipping out of the bowl, be sure to use a large plastic bowl.  You will need salt to flavor the butter unless you prefer unsalted butter.  You can leave it out in that case.  You may also like to try to fold certain seasonings into your butter to make flavored butters.  Folding rosemary into the butter while it is still soft (before refrigerating) will make a nice flavored butter for bread rolls.  This butter is an old fashioned (Cracker Barrel) style butter.  It is very soft when you make it, but it will stiffen in the refrigerator.  If you would like for the butter to be more of a soft spread or margarine, you can blend an oil (olive oil or one of your choosing) into the soft butter before putting away in the refrigerator.  This should keep the butter somewhat softer.  If you'd like to keep the butter as pure butter (cream and salt) then simply take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to soften with room temperature before you think you will be needing it.  Sometimes I take a spoonful out when I start cooking and by the time dinner is ready and the rolls are on the table the butter is a bit softer.  Adding a little oil in it while it is soft doesn't hurt it, it just makes more of a spread than a pure butter.  That is completely up to you; experiment and find what you like best.  Adding the seasonings (honey, rosemary, lavender, etc...) make wonderful additions to your own homemade butter.  Even adding garlic or any favorite meat seasoning will make a nice butter for topping steaks and chops.

SUPPLIES:

Heavy Cream
Salt
Large Plastic Bowl
Electric mixer

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Pour heavy cream in the large bowl.
2.  Using the electric mixer, beat the cream on low for a couple of minutes.
3.  Raise the speed to medium and continue to mix.  (This just keeps it from spattering you as it thickens)

**  You will be mixing the cream for about 10-15 minutes raising the speed as it thickens.  You will notice that the cream begins to thicken and rise.  At this point you are making a salted whipped cream.  If you want to make a sweet dessert whipped cream, you do it the same way, only you use sugar instead of salt and you add the salt before you start whipping and don't whip it as long as it takes to get butter.  If you are making butter you salt the butter after it is already whipped.  For a dessert whipped cream, you only whip the sugar and cream up to the consistency of whipped cream and stop.  4 cups of cream per 1 cup of sugar makes a great whipped cream for desserts.  For butter you only add the amount of salt to your liking after you've made the butter but before you have put it in the refrigerator. It's easier to mix in at that point. **

4.  Continue to whip the salted cream raising your speed eventually up to high as it thickens. 

** You will notice once the cream is whipped thick it will begin to separate and deflate again.  The fat in the cream is beginning to coagulate together and make butter.  You will notice the fats turning a natural butter yellow.  If you would like a very light and easy melting butter you could store it at this stage and use as a whipped cream style butter, but it melts away quickly in this state so if you'd like to have a more stable pure butter continue to whip until you see a new liquid separating out.  It will seem like it takes a while, but just keep whipping and eventually this milky looking liquid will separate.
**

5.  As you keep whipping you will see the milky liquid separating from the butter.  Drain this liquid off and squeeze the butter with your hands in the bowl to help release more of the liquid, draining off the liquid as you go.  I simply give it a few squishes by hand and drain and repeat until I have released most of the liquid and drained it out. 
6.  Gather together your butter and place it in a storage dish and spread/pack down.  If you want to flavor the butter, you should do it now while it is softened and easy to mix.  Once you put this away in the refrigerator it will harden into a pure country style butter, however, room temperature will soften it again when needed.

Now you have the knowledge of making butter and whipped cream!  There are so many options so enjoy all the many ways you can flavor these concoctions and add them to your meals and desserts.  Enjoy!!

TIPS:  You can use a quality food processor and a strainer if you think these items will make it easier.  I use a mixer because I have more control over all of the cream and I have done it this way for so long it is easy to me.