*Please note this post was originally posted in January 2008

Someone once told me that when margarine is made in the factory, its actually black but they colour it yellow to make us buy it. Now I don’t know if this is true but its sure stuck with me!

A couple of years ago I started buttermaking. Its very simple really, you just need a pot of double cream and a vessel to mix it in. Butter can only be made from double or whipping cream, single cream will not work.

Cream is best when its almost on the ‘turn’ by that I mean it will have gone off if you leave it a day or two more. This suits me fine as I can buy the pots in the supermarket that have reached their sell by date and are reduced to silly prices. I managed to get loads over the Christmas period for 10p a pot!

Take the cream out of the fridge about an hour before you are going to do your buttermaking. This gives it chance to come up to room temperature and makes it easier to mix. Now I make my butter in a food mixer but you can even make it in a jar with a marble in, just make sure the jar has a secure lid…. unless of course you actually want your dogs licking cream off the walls for the next week! Hey it gives them something to do and stops them chasing the hens!

I put the cream in my mixer and put the cover over it to stop it flying out everywhere. Turn the mixture on and once its mixing nicely, turn the speed up. You will notice the cream goes through a few stages. First it just looks like whipped cream and then it takes on a kind of scrambled egg consistency. Keep your eye on it at this time as it wont be long before you hear the sloshing sound as the butter separates from the buttermilk. Turn the mixer speed right down as soon as it separates and just let it mix slowly for a few seconds. You’ll probably notice the butter clinging to the beater.

Stop your machine and drain off the buttermilk. Do not throw this away as it is delightful used as the liquid in scone making or in sauces. I usually plan to make a cheesey pasta bake for tea on buttermaking days so I can use the buttermilk up. Buttermilk tastes like very creamy milk but is low in calories as the fat has gone into the butter. If you cant use the buttermilk right away, simply freeze it and use it in cooking at a later time.

So on to the butter. It now needs rinsing to get out all the remaining buttermilk. If you dont rinse it you will find that the butter goes off very quickly. I pop mine in a colandar and pour running water onto it. Once you’ve rinsed it, now its on to drying. I place three sheets of kitchen roll on my worktop, pop the butter on to it and then add another three sheets so its in a kind of butter sandwich and then squish it down with a piece of wood. This flattens it and gets out any remaining water.

The butter is now almost ready to be used. You can add salt to it at this time if you like but I prefer to keep mine unsalted.

Now the really fun bit…. hitting it as hard as you like with a couple of wooden butter pats! I find it a great way to get out all my frustration. I beat it up a bit and then when I get bored I shape it nicely into an oblong block and either put it in my butter dish for instant use, or freeze it if i’ve taken advantage of the supermarket reduced section and bought fifteen pots to make it in bulk!

The taste of homemade butter is something special. So rich and creamy. I havent bought butter or margarine in years, it just tastes so ‘plasticky’ I’m sure that once you have made your own, i’m going to be seeing you in the reduced section from now on….

Sorry about the ‘rustic’ looking butter but I wanted to add a picture and I only had this bit in my dish. I promise to put a nice oblong block of butter on soon