Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Shake It. Make It: Butter

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After years of reading that we need to eat a low-fat diet in order to be healthy, it came as a huge relief to hear that many people believe high quality, saturated fats are essential to good health. At last, I no longer need to repress my love of butter. I’ve always loved the stuff and have never held back when it comes to slathering. Good butter, made from grass-fed cows is much more difficult to find than you’d think. Butter made from raw unpasteurized milk is an even more rare item. Feeling a little like the Little Red Hen, I decided I’d just have to make some myself.

My first attempt was using the shaking method. I started out at Sea Breeze Farms at the University Farmers Market buying a small bottle of heavy cream. I put it in a quart-sized jar and left it out on the kitchen counter overnight to “culture” which refers to developing the acid content and adding flavor. Then it’s a matter of shaking and shaking and even more shaking. It’s a wonderful group activity but in my case, a good opportunity to sneak in a favorite TV show. I know, it’s not exactly the way the pioneers did it, but after all, I was just sitting there.  After 45 minutes or so a big lump of yellow butter formed with lots of creamy buttermilk left over. The next step is rinsing it in cold water and then working it with a fork to drain the excess water out. Finally, you can sprinkle some salt over it and place it in a covered container in the fridge. It’s a fair amount of work for a small amount of butter so I can’t see myself using this method on a regular basis unless I have some willing helpers.

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Next I pulled out the food processor and found this method much easier. No need to culture the cream, as a matter of fact, cold cream works better. You are basically making whipped cream and then going one step further. You’ll be able to see the butter form and clump together. You’ll have far less buttermilk and much more butter than with the shaking method.

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Drain the buttermilk off and use the butter either as is or rinse it with cold water to use later.

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Once it’s rinsed, put it in a bowl and work it with a potato masher or a fork to release any extra liquid. Keep mashing and draining until most of the water is removed.

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That’s all there is to it. You can add chopped herbs and salt if you wish. Not only does it have a fresh, light taste, you know that you’re using a high quality cream with no extra ingredients added.

I’ve been taking an excellent nutrition workshop taught by Evelyn Lim, a Certified Nutritional Therapist and a Licensed Massage Therapist ( email – kibodyworks@yahoo.com). Our last lesson was on the importance of high quality fats in our diet. I learned that “fat is the log in the fire when it comes to fueling our bodies — providing a slow burning source of energy.” Fatty acids are “essential for the absorption of fat soluble Vitamins A,D,E & K.” They also “provide a protective lining for our organs and protects the liver from alcohol and other toxins.” We had three hours of information about how beneficial fatty acids are so I’m not just justifying adding more butter on my next baked potato. Well, maybe a little bit, but in addition to being healthy, homemade butter tastes as fresh and delicious as it looks.

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I just wanted to mention one more thing. There’s an event happening next Saturday night (October 24) you may want to attend. It’s called Urban Harvest and it’s a dinner and auction benefiting one of my favorite organizations, Seattle Youth Garden Works. They “empower homeless and underserved youth, ages 14-21, through garden-based education and employment. Through one-on-one mentorship in an urban garden setting, they work with youth to help them stabilize their housing and educational situations, secure employment after their SYGW graduation and achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle.” Even if you can’t make it to this event, you can stop by to see them at the University Farmers Market and support them by buying their produce. It’s one of our favorite stops at the market, and their quality and prices are some of the best you’ll find.


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7 Responses »

  1. We have a butter churn turned into dried flower vase if you really want to make butter.

  2. Lily will be thrilled to have some of your butter on her crackers.

  3. THANK YOU for this! we don’t use much butter, but I love the idea of knowing where it came from & how it was made. Very excited to try this at home!

  4. Bob, wanna help?
    Krista, I forgot to give you some yesterday for Lily’s crackers. I’ll try to remember today.
    Lesley, If you make this, I’ll bet you use more butter.

  5. This was a wonderful post, one of your best I think. I’ve never heard of the “shake” method, though I guess its similar to the churning with a stick. So the rinsing is only necessary if the butter is not for immediate use?

  6. Mangochild, Thank you! I think you’re right. If you’re going to use your butter right away, I can’t think of a reason to rinse it. The buttermilk is good to drink too.

  7. YEAH!!! I can finally eat something as delicious as this with less guilt about the butter.