Farmhouse Butter Churned the Food Processor

Sunday September 27, 2015

Fiction author Barbara Kingsolver frequently writes about food, and in her essay Lily’s Chickens she writes that she has become captivated by the alchemy of making butter and cheese. But while cheese is an art, Kingsolver writes, butter is a sport.

Any type of milk produces enough cream to be churned into a full fat butter. The flavor and aroma of commercial butter is the result of fermentation that is set into motion by a butter “starter,” but no starter is needed for homemade butter. Buy fresh butter, salted or unsalted (labeled sweet), as preferred. It should be pale, sweet smelling, and creamy. Do not buy butter that is streaked (old or improperly stored), cheesy smelling (which can happen with raw butter), or greasy (improperly stored then re-solidified).  Butter may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Homemade butter is easily made with a food processor in a fast, clean, and very efficient manner. Start with high-quality heavy cream. You can buy whipping cream at the grocery store, although if you live in a part of

Irish Butter by Massachusetts artist Margaret McWethy

the country where you can get fresh cream from a dairy, so much the better. Basically, the better your cream tastes, the higher quality your butter will be. There will be about 1 cup whey remaining, the watery part of the milk, draining from the newly coagulated butter.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals and can be used in baking like buttermilk.  Some people drink it.

Use a favorite sea salt, even something like Maldon or Himalayan pink salt that is finely ground, if you are making a salted butter. Butter made from fermented cream is known as cultured butter, which is more full flavored. You can make it by adding yogurt to the cream and aging it a little before you beat it to bits.

While these recipes use 2 cups of cream, 6 cups of cream will yield about 1 pound of butter.

Store newly made butter in a covered container in the refrigerator.  Let stand 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature to soften before using. Can be used in cooking.

Makes 6 ounces (3/4 cup) butter


  • 2 cups organic cold heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)
  • A few pinches or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste (optional)


1.  Chill the container of a work bowl and steel blade of food processor in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Place the bowl on the machine and position the blade.  Place the cream in chilled container; cover and process for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides of the bowl. It will have soft peaks.

2. Recover. Process again until the liquid and solids separate, about 2 to 3 minutes more.  The liquid will separate from the butter mass and look grainy. The mixture will begin pulling away from the sides of the bowl. The solids will come together and buttermilk will start to pool, so beware splashes. You’re done when the butter has come together and quite a bit of buttermilk has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl.

3.  Line a mesh sieve with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place over the sink. Pour off the liquid from the work bowl (this is the buttermilk/whey which can be used in recipes like buttermilk).  Scrape the butter solids into the sieve; squeeze the cheesecloth to remove the excess liquid.  Rinse butter in the sieve under very cold water, using a flexible spatula to turn the butter over. Press the spatula, or use your hands, against the butter until the liquid runs clear. Mix in the salt to taste or leave unsalted. After you strain out the butter from the “buttermilk” you need to kneed the butter to remove the rest of the liquid milk from the butter.  Removing the milk keeps the butter from going rancid as quickly.

Place the butter in a metal bowl and try to keep the butter fairly cold. About 50-60 degrees. using a nice heavy spoon, mash the butter against the sides of the bowl while tipping the bowl slightly keeping the butter at the high end to allow the milk to drain off. Scrape into a covered container and store in refrigerator up to a week, or use immediately. Be sure to store in a covered container as butter tends to absorb any other circulating flavors in the fridge.

Cultured Butter

High quality cultured buttermilk and butter have in them symbiotic bacteria that make vitamin B complex vitamins for us in our intestines. Cultured butter is made exactly the same as for regular butter, but with the culture setting overnight first.


  • 2 cups organic cold heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • A few pinches or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste (optional)


First, combine the cream and yogurt in a clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 16 to 24 hours at 74˚F, then uncover the cream mixture. Don’t worry if it has formed a skin on top — that’s how it’s supposed to look. Using a spatula, carefully scrape all the contents of the bowl into the work bowl of the food processor. Proceed with Step 1 to make the butter.

if not using right away, wrap in parchment or waxed paper, then slip into gallon freezer bags for storage

Now that you’ve made the butter, you can consider making your own flavored butters.

A compound butter is a combination of butter and complementary ingredients, such as herbs and/or garlic/mustard/chiles/lemon juice/wine, mashed together and chilled to hold its shape. It is used to enhance the flavor of dishes and it is quick, too. The butters work equally well as pasta sauces or bread spreads; and atop steaks, seafood, and burgers. We all remember our first taste of a compound butter accenting a food since it is really delicious and awakens the palate, such as maitre d’hotel butter on a hot, rare steak, may be the mother of all compound butters. For savory, you can really run wild.

Below are some suggestions, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavors to add to your butter. store in an airtight container, or roll it in plastic wrap or in parchment paper tubes. How to use it: the mixture can be sliced and added to a variety of foods: corn on the cob, mashed or baked potatoes, simple steamed vegetables, fish filets, chicken, pasta, turkey breast under the skin, tea sandwiches, spread atop bread or biscuits, top pancakes or quick breads; fantastic for baking.

The Compound Basics

•you can use salted or unsalted butter/or a combination of butter and margarine

•recipes are for 1 stick (1/4 pound or 4 ounces butter) and can be scaled up as needed

churning butter Tibetan style

•soften the butter to room temperature

•prepare the ingredients to be added, such as mincing or mashing to make a paste. Mix and match flavors

•in a small bowl, mash together the butter and seasonings with a fork until well distributed. For larger amounts, use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or food processor (which can chop ingredients as well). Mix well but don’t over mix. If very soft, refrigerate the bowl to a workable consistency, about 10 minutes

• Spread out a large (1-foot or bigger) square of plastic wrap across your work surface, then scoop the mixed butter onto the plastic. Roll into a log/cylinder on plastic wrap/parchment/foil and twist or knot with kitchen twine the ends to seal and chill for one hour before using

•refrigerate or freeze for cutting into slices later. place logs of butter into a ziplock style freezer bag to store them together. When firm, serve sliced with your choice of food.

• Butter can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days before using. Will keep in the freezer 2 months.

•cut off a serving as needed with a sharp knife and place on the food (you can cut a portion off frozen). pull out the log you need about 15 to 20 minutes before it needs to be cut. Just watch it melt…

•a stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons or 24 teaspoons of compound butter, 6 to 8 servings

Honey Butter

4 ounces homemade butter, softened or 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons liquid honey
Place the softened butter in a mixer (or mix by hand). Mix with the honey until combined. Store in an airtight container. Makes 1/2 cup

Lemon Pistachio Butter

4 ounces homemade butter, softened or 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons are great)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons very finely chopped pistachios
Place the softened butter in a mixer (or mix by hand). Mix with the lemon juice, lemon zest and pistachios until combined. Store in an airtight container.  Makes 1/2 cup

Fresh Herb Butter

4 ounces homemade butter, softened or 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herb leaves, such as fresh marjoram, sage, rosemary, basil, tarragon, dill, parsley, or thyme

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Combine the butter, herb, and zest mixture in a food processor; pulse a few times to combine.  Scrape out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and using your hands through the plastic wrap, shape into a thick log.  Roll up and twist the ends to seal.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer.  Cut 1/2 inch slices and top hot steamed vegetables before serving. Makes 1/2 cup

Cilantro Lime Butter

4 ounces homemade butter, softened or 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

1 tablespoon lime juice

Zest of 1 lime

Soften butter to room temperature. Combine the butter with the cilantro, lime juice and zest. Mix well. Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill until firm. Makes 1/2 cup

Maître d’Hôtel Butter

4 ounces homemade butter, softened or 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Juice of 1 small lemon

2 tablespoon minced flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves or fines herbes

Pinch of freshly ground black or white pepper

Soften butter to room temperature. Combine the butter with the lemon juice, parsley, and pepper. Mix well. Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill until firm. Makes 1/2 cup

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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