With schools closed, dreaded white stuff on ungritted roads and more falling from those deep grey skies we've become so accustomed to, what shall we do now? We've done all the snowman, snow angel, snow fort, snow igloo stuff but hey, there's that cream in the fridge that we bought the other day. Let's do something with that! And so we made butter!
We've been making butter for quite some time now. Why? Because it's impossible to get hold of in an unsalted, unpasteurised organic form, that's why. Blame the EC directives, grrrrr! Unpasteurised, because it retains all the real goodness (and flavour) that is destroyed by pasteurisation and we like a bit of goodness in our household, yes we do. After a long internet search for local suppliers, we found this one who comes to Blackheath farmers' market each Sunday morning. Then there's Modbury Farm who are an hours drive from us when we're in Dorset. Modbury is a day trip away but very often turns into a wonderful treat. They have the most beautiful herd of Jersey cows, and pigs and chickens which the children love watching in the barns. But also Burton Bradstock has a restaurant worth making a detour for, The Hive, which is practically on the beach. They do the usual sandwiches and baked potatoes sort of light lunch food but the best thing is the fish menu. Not cheap but for a treat, a must!
Our man Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says to make butter you need a large jar and a pair of arms which is true. But you also need a lot of strength in those arms as I found out the other day and if you have to keep stopping to rest, it's quite time consuming too. For the children there is a real novelty value in being a human butter churn but sadly that wears off fairly quickly and the trouble is, once started there's only one way to go and that's onwards! Unfortunately I'm not built to shake a large kilner jar for hours on end, so large my hand only just manages to grab hold. Shaking with the right amount of force also fills me with a fear that I'm about to knock my teeth out, or put my back into spasm instead and if I don't develop arms like Madonna's, then I shall want to know why.
Ah ha, thought I reaching for the antique butter churn and giving it a thorough wash. Job done! But there is a problem with that, too. Yes, it sure beats the shaking but most of the cream was beginning to stick against the sides of the jar, so the inside was turning to butter while the outside decidedly not. And changing back again to the kilner needs a lot of willpower since the paddle is covered with a mixture of cream and butter, so it's like eating a cream tea without the jam and the scone. You see, sometimes the child never leaves you and there's forever the urge to lick the bowl!
But in moments of dire need, fresh ideas generally come and so it was that a new method was born. Move over HFW. Sitting down (sounding good so far) and rolling the jar backwards and forwards, gripping on for dear life of course, and just as I was giving up hope of ever seeing butter again, hallelujah, the wonderful sound of sloshing buttermilk rang out loud and clear. Suddenly those newly bruised thighs didn't seem to matter so much and the possibility of getting to bed was also becoming more likely. Now I could push thoughts of getting onto the trampoline aside.
But yesterday, having still some cartons left over and not being able to face all that palaver again, the whole lot got spooned into the Kitchenaid. Creaming hook fitted, I switched it on, keeping constant vigil and do you know what? Glory be, butter was made in a matter of minutes - literally! So much for Madonna's arms!
And if I haven't put you off and you fancy having a try yourself, here are some tips below -
If you let the cream come to room temperature it will save you a very long time. Use a maximum of 1/2 kilner jars worth of thick cream at a time and don't forget to use a seal. Now start shaking (this refers to the jar, there is no need to be nervous)!
As you shake the cream will become thicker ..
and thicker ..
and thicker still ..
until you hear the sloshing, which is buttermilk. Save this because you can use it in the scones that your butter will be so delicious on!
Drain off the buttermilk and put a small glassful of cold water in the jar. Shake again, then drain and repeat this process until the liquid in your jar is clear at which point, hey presto, you have butter.
If you make it in a mixer, put it on a low to medium speed and watch it the whole time since the process is very quick. Follow the same method as before, although once you reach the buttermilk stage you will need to transfer it to a large jar as I found to my cost as water spurted around the kitchen!
Believe me, when you make it yourself, it tastes even more delicious. Once the shoulder pain has stopped, of course!