It is with great sadness that I tell you that my dear friend and teacher Anna Dearing has passed. You will remember her as my teacher for how to crochet old fashioned rag rugs. I wanted her legacy to live on and I hope I've succeeded somewhat. She was a wonderful person and a great teacher!
This post is dedicated to Anna Dearing b. 1927 in Santa Barbara, CA; d. Nov 25th, 2015 in Elk Creek, CA.
A Churn is Found
Last week the owner of this place that we care-take asked us to do some clean-out of an old storage area. They plan to make the original half underground pantry that has been used for over flow storage of bric a brac into a working cold storage to make Italian vinegars and cheese and store root vegetables. There were a lot of ordinary items and a few extraordinary ones, too. When we uncovered an old butter churn we were very excited. This ranch goes back to when the area was settled in the 1800's. Little by little we are uncovering the fascinating history.
The butter churn was in pretty good condition but we never found a dasher. I had fantasies about making butter in it but, alas, it was not to be. Maybe some time in the future we will find the time to make a new dasher. It wouldn't be hard so you might hear about our efforts in a post.
Not one to be disappointed, however, and especially fortified with resolve because of the Thanksgiving holiday I decided I had to have some homemade butter. I had wanted to make it the old fashioned way but when lack of time and no dasher presented itself I decided to make homemade butter the new fashioned way. I knew it would still have the old fashioned taste. If you've never made butter you might feel intimidated but don't! It's one of the easiest things to do if you have the right equipment. You can make it in about 15 minutes. It's virtually fool-proof!
All you need is a food processor that has a mixing blade (not cutting — it's too straight) and low speed and you'll be in business.
2 pints heavy cream (get the best quality you can find; it can be pasteurized; 2 pints make about a lb. of butter)
(opt.) non-iodized salt and/or spices (1 to 2 teaspoons salt per pint; 1 teaspoon works well for me. I don't like things to be over-salted.)
Food processor with mixing blade and low speed
Wooden paddle or big spoon
Put the cream in a clean bowl and let it stand unrefrigerated until it comes to room temperature. Wash your food processor and dry it. Put the cream in the bowl of your processor. (if you want flavored butter like garlic, chives, parsley or other spices you can put it in now or wait until you're paddling the butter. I wait because I like the liquid that's leftover to be unflavored. It's great on cereal or in coffee or tea and any recipe that asks for low fat milk). Don't overfill your processor bowl. We wouldn't want cream going all over the place.
If you like your butter salty you can also add that now but again you can add the salt during paddling to avoid having salty buttermilk. We're going to have leftover uncultured buttermilk from this process. More about that later.
Turn the processor on to low. The cream will quickly start turning to solid. It shouldn't take more than a couple minutes. If it takes longer or shorter your cream might have been too warm or too cold. Stop the processor when the butter comes away from the sides in solid condition. That is to say, when it looks like butter. Taste it. If it tastes likes butter you're done. If it still tastes milky let it go another minute. Now drain the buttermilk out.
The butter has "come together" and the liquid is buttermilk.
I know people who won't drink buttermilk because (yech) it's buttermilk and must be high fat. These people are victims of misperception. Buttermilk, despite the name, is low fat, delicious and nutritious!
After draining what buttermilk was in the processor bowl empty the butter into a dish that allows you to take a big spoon or paddle and squish the butter over and over to squeeze as much buttermilk out as you can. Buttermilk can make the butter turn sour after a while. Paddle and drain until you have it as drained as you can. If you decant it into a storage bowl you can paddle it some more and use a clean paper towel to soak up the tiny remaining dots of buttermilk. Unless you make a LOT of butter you'll probably use it up way before it can turn sour from not getting all the buttermilk out. So don't stress.
If you think you're going to use it all up within a few days go ahead and refrigerate it as this point. If you make a lot wash it in cold clear water until the water runs clear. This just means put it in a bowl and run clear cold water on it and squish it with a clean spoon or clean wooden paddle. It works. Trust me. Oil and cold water don't mix.
You can also wrap the butter in a couple layers of cheesecloth and with your clean hands squish it to get more buttermilk out. I keep harping on clean this and clean that. It's just that we try to minimize the introduction of bacteria which will make the butter go rancid faster.
Wrap your butter in plastic wrap or an airtight container. Put it in the refrigerator.
Then make some homemade dinner rolls and watch the butter and bread disappear before your very eyes. There! You didn't know you were a magician, too!