I was in an organic food store, looking for a good cream. I had two different brands in my hand and was comparing ingredients, where it was produced, when this women started speaking to me about local dairy farmers and getting cream right from the source. The conversation naturally turned (or if my husband was writing this, he would replace the word "turned" with "churned"...) to butter. She asked if I had made any at home. I wrinkled up my forehead and she proceeded to inform me that all it took was a Kitchenaid mixer, good cream, a little salt, some cheese cloth and several flour sack towels.
When I got home, I took to Google to see what i had been missing. Sure enough, it was all there. So I set out to make some butter.
A few tips on this process.
First - you won't save any money. You will get about a pound of butter from your quart of heavy cream. So your sale butter at Walmart or Copps or Safeway is more economical. So if you carefully source your cream, what you do get is knowing exactly where your cream came from. For some farmers, you can even know what the cows ate....so you know what you are eating. A bonus, you will get about a cup of buttermilk. REAL buttermilk, not the added creamy kind of buttermilk that is mass produced.
Second - Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze your butter. Get the most buttermilk out of your butter. It will improve the viscosity so you can cook with it. You want as little liquid left in the solids as humanly possible. Adding the cultured buttermilk to the cream prior to churning assist in helping the fat globules bind together. The acids from the buttermilk also help provide flavor.
Finally, the salt content in the butter is totally in your control. Just a dash is sufficient.
So here we go:
Add 1 TBS of cultured buttermilk.
Using the whisk attachment, starting on low speed, start churching the liquid. You will slowly increase the speed to high. Before doing this, you will need to cover the mixer with several dish clothes to prevent splattering every surface in your kitchen. I used a splatter shield as well, but that only slightly helped. The towels are really important.
If you peak, you will notice that the consistency of the cream, once it moves from that "whipped cream" appearance, will turn quickly. First it will look chunky, then it will begin to seize and you will see the buttermilk separating from the solids. Again, this is really where the towels come in handy.
Once the cream seizes, you will want to turn off the machine and remove the buttermilk from the mixture. Set it aside. You can turn the mixer back on for a little bit longer, help bring the solids together.
Remove the solids from the bowl and (this is very important) WASH the butter. First form a ball out of the solids. I do this by putting the solids onto a cheese cloth and drawing them up into the ball. Then place the ball into a bowl of very cold butter, squeezing until the clear water turns cloudy. Dump out the cloudy water and add more cold water to the bowl. Do this several times. If you omit this part, your butter may go rancid faster.
Once all of the liquid has been squeezed out, you can wrap into waxed paper or saran wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
It is not as difficult as it may appear and once you have done it, it gets easier every time.
Try experimenting with flavoring your butter as well. You can do this at the end, after you squeeze.