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On my long “bucket list” of homesteading tasks to try, butter making kept popping up at the top.  I’m not sure why, except that I have a deep love of butter in general. It seemed like a no brainer, it’s not like I would ever waste butter and leftovers would be none existent. 

Every one of my country living/homesteading books has a simple recipe for butter: heavy cream.  Salt if you want it (duh) and herbs if you desire.  Most of them also suggested that if you don’t have a butter churn (I don’t. Yet.), to invest in a Mason jar and a marble.  I was then to pour the cream into the jar and drop the marble in and proceed to shake vigorously for ten minutes.

butter

If I haven’t mentioned before, I have ADD.  Even reading the sentence about shaking for ten minutes lost my attention. Instead, I opted to use my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer but I’m fairly certain a handheld mixer would do just fine.

Into the mixer bowl went the heavy cream.  I set the speed at medium and stood and waited. And stared. And waited. You know what they say about a watched pot never boiling? Well, watched cream turns into whipped cream (which I knew) and then takes forever to turn into butter.  Maybe not forever, but ten minutes or so.

This is what you can expect: pour the cream in, set it to medium and see it begin to form stiff peaks that you get when you make whipped cream.  Let it continue past whipped cream status.  Eventually, you will begin to see some chunks of butter forming and hear some liquid sloshing around. At this point, remove the liquid.  The liquid is buttermilk, so pour it into a bowl to save for later.  Return the butter to the mixer and set it on medium and repeat this process until you don’t have much liquid left or until the butter clumps on the mixer and is somewhat “dry”.  *Prior to beginning to mix, put your shields on the mixing bowl or cover it with a towel.  As it separates, it begins to slosh outside of the bowl and fly around at you and your kitchen. Not that I discovered this personally…

Remove the butter from the bowl and place it into a large bowl. At this point my books said to use two wooden spoons to squeeze and fold the butter, to continue to remove the liquid in what I deemed as an “Edward Butterspoons” fashion.  These are the pictures that pop into my head when I read something that requires putting knives in each hand, spoons in each hand or wielding anything that looks remotely like “Edward Scissorhands”.  Totally normal.  Anyhow, I tried, I really did, but I ended up just picking it up and kneading it with my hands. It worked best and I ended up with buttery soft hands.

butter

Once you’ve removed THAT liquid (the buttermilk) add ½ cup of cool water and repeat, effectively “cleaning” the butter. This liquid you can dump down the drain. Repeat this until the liquid is clear.

You can choose at this point to add salt to your taste, or herbs of your choice. Fold them in (or work them in with your hands, as I did).  I added Trader Joe’s garlic and sea salt.  Once you’ve added what you’d like, press it into a mold or a container for storage. I wrapped some and stored it in the freezer as well.

A day later, I used the buttermilk in these lovely little buttermilk biscuits. The recipe can be found in The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, and I posted it below. They’re simple and can be made using things likely already in your pantry.  I added dill to them, too.

buscuits

My verdict?  It was a bit messy the first time, which was my fault because I like to pretend I’m not a slob.  Until I realize that I am, and then I do it right the second time.  It was WELL worth it.  For the price of the heavy cream, I got a good deal of butter AND buttermilk. The flavor of the butter is unbelievable; I’m slightly embarrassed to admit how much I’ve eaten (I’m off to the gym the second I post this!).  It’s now become referred to as “Mom’s Butter” by the family and I LOVE that.  Having the kids sit down and grab a biscuit made from scratch then asking someone to pass “Mom’s Butter” has a certain satisfying ring to it.

I hope years down the road when my kids have a family of their own, they recall stories of their upbringing.  I hope that they feel the love that I put into making these little things, and into building this life for them.  I hope that they make new “old” traditions of their own to keep them connected to the love from which these traditions grew in the first place.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter (5 1/3 tablespoons), cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450.
 
2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir together. Add the shortening and the cold butter pieces. Combine with a fork or I used my mixer on low.
 
3. Pour in the buttermilk you reserved from making your butter and mix gently with fork until just combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky,  not overly dry or crumbly.
 
4. Lightly flour a clean surface. Roll out the dough to 1/2″  to a 3/4″ thickness. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter (I used a Mason Jar lid, couldnt find my cutter!) and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.    

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