Butter Me Up!

Nothin’ says love like butter…real butter.  I’ve often wondered if the first 4 letters of butter were intentional or maybe somewhat of a warning? Hmmm. None the less, no matter what diet or calories you’re watching, there’s always a little room for some warm bread and creamy homemade butter.

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My oldest daughter….she loves herb butter!

My oldest, a police officer, rarely visits due to her schedule and busy life. When I have withdrawals, I simply pick up the phone and mention food.  I’m not quite sure what lured her home on this particular day, the fact that her dad was smoking a brisket and ribs, or that there was fresh bread in the oven and I was going to make a batch of herb and honey/cinnamon butter. Regardless, she showed up 20 minutes later….hungry

 

Funny thing….so did my friend, Margie, AND her parents! See how butter  spreads the love and brings people together?

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Margie working on her buttering up skills

I purchased this handy-dandy butter churner at the Mother News Earth Fair in Belton, Texas this year thinking I’d try my hand at real hand-churned butter.  BUT….. 25 minutes later, carpal tunnel and tennis elbow, I decided to follow the advice I often give my students, “Work smarter, not harder”, and so I brought out the old faithful Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and got to making some butter. Every time I bring out this stand mixer, I give my husband praises and say “best gift ever”, however,  25 years ago when he gifted me my first Christmas gift, (a blender) I gave him a lecture on “gifts for your fiancé”.  Now when I ask for an appliance for birthdays or holidays, he gets this very confused and nervous look on his face . 

What you will need:

  • 2 cups fresh raw milk from a local dairy farm / OR 2 cups organic heavy cream
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • herbs of your choice (in this case I used basil, chives, and parsley) 2 tablespoons of each.
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • OR local honey  (3 tablespoons) and
    • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • stand mixer or hand mixer
  • ice water bath
  • fine mesh strainer
  • mixing bowls
  • wax paper

Collect your herbs ( I take any opportunity to use fresh herbs out of our garden). Herb butter is great on bread and whatever is left over can be made in 1″ rolled balls, wrapped and frozen for use  to sauté  veggies, baste beef, chicken or fish or thaw and used on bread at a later date.   I’m going to use basil, chives and parsley for this particular recipe. However, there are many other great combos:

  • The zest of one organic lemon and one organic lime (great on fish)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced toasted pecans or walnuts and 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon each of finely minced fresh parsley, chives, rosemary and tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced mint and 1 tablespoon lemon zest (great on lamb)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced dill weed and 1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest (great on fish or vegetables)

Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free…or $10 ?  We have a dairy in town that has amazing grass-fed milk.  Nearly a third of it is cream!  You can see the amount of liquid missing and if I let it sit a bit more, I’m sure I could easily get another inch or two out of this gallon.

I pour it off into a glass container, so that I can see the separation of cream and milk and am able to skim off the cream without taking too much milk with it.  Let cream sit out on the kitchen counter till it reaches room temperature, about 2 hours…or on a hot Texas day, 10 minutes! When it reaches room temp, skim off all the cream you can, or about 2 cups.

Put 2 cups of room temperature cream in the hand butter churner   bowl of a stand mixer (you may use a hand mixer, just make sure you are in great shape and have something to drink in the other hand because you are going to be here a while).

No, it’s not halloween..that ghost like image below has a  mixer  under it. The splashing from the mixer can get a bit messy…be afraid…be very afraid  prepared.

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After a while, this will turn into  whipped cream. You can stop here and just eat this on some fresh berries or continue on to butter. I’ll admit, I’ve done both :).  Once it turns to whipped cream it will continue to beat till it breaks apart and turns to butter. You will see thickened yellow colored chunks all about.

Remove your butter getting as many clumps and lumps out as you can not leaving any of these little buttery clouds behind.

 

Give your butter a bath, or two! or three! Continue to squeeze butter, knead it and rinse it in the ice water bath.  The water will become cloudy and your butter will begin to stiffen. The cloudy water indicates your leftover buttermilk is coming out and this is exactly what we want to happen. Change out ice water bath a couple of times if you like.  I don’t rinse it more than twice because we eat it as soon as it’s done.  The more you rinse,the longer your butter will keep.

What do you do with what’s left in the mixer bowl?  That leftover milk will not be forming into butter in the near future. This is buttermilk, as in butter’s milk.  This delicious leftover liquid can be used to make the most incredible scones, buttermilk pancakes or biscuits!!! Oh, how I love fresh buttermilk biscuits, but that’s a different blog.

Place your rinsed and strained butter in a mixing bowl. You can eat it as is at this point, or you can add in your herbs or honey/cinnamon or other combination of herbs. I’m going to divide the butter and use half for herb butter and the other half for cinnamon & honey.

First, the herb butter… rinse fresh herbs and chop.  I’m using a bit more garlic, because it keeps vampires away, unfortunately it also keeps the hubby away ♥ Oh the sacrifices foodies  will make.

As butter sits in the mixing bowl and out of the water bath it will begin to soften again.  Add herbs (1-2 tablespoons of each) to the butter and begin to knead in.  The butter will continue to soften with the heat of your hands which will help the oils from the herbs infuse into your butter….mmmmm.   If you choose, you may add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to help with spreadability. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper and form a shape:  ball, rectangle, longhorn, heart, or  the Eiffel tower. It doesn’t really matter and your family or friends will be too busy moaning and drooling to care. Wrap that baby ball of butter up! This is your “butter half”…bahhahahah, sorry couldn’t help it.

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Now for the honey & cinnamon butter…

Take the other half (if you’ve chosen to make 2 flavors) of this batch and place it in another clean mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of local honey, ours comes straight from the hive…talk about L-O-C-A-L!

Knead in and wrap in wax paper.

Place butters in fridge to firm them up.  If you plan on eating this soon, this will literally take a few minutes. If you leave it in too long, it will completely harden up and you will have to sit it out to soften enough to spread.  Fresh raw milk butter will keep up to 2 weeks in fridge. If it begins to smell sour, just make some pasta and throw it in with some parmesan.  Remember, the more you “rinse” the longer it lasts.

Confession: We baked our fresh bread earlier this morning and devoured that with some homemade peach jam from our orchard, so to make sure we ended this on a good note we hit the local bakery for a  warm French loaf to enjoy our just made butter.  My bread is not usually such a beautiful golden brown; I’m still working on perfecting that 🙂  With a family of 7, nothing lasts long in our home.

Until next time…

Keep it real & keep it local y’all,

The Texas Chick

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