Cultured Raw Milk Butter for Your Holiday Table

I’ve noticed that sometimes when I melt butter to scramble eggs or to drizzle on my popcorn, that it splatters and pops in the pan as though it has water in it. In this post, Ashley tells why. If you want to find the secrets about butter, and how to make your own cultured raw milk butter at home, keep reading.

Posted by Ashley

Christmas time in my childhood home was special for many reasons. Most of those reasons are the same for children everywhere—the lights, the smells, and the excitement and surprise of Christmas morning.

For me, it meant something else—butter. Real butter.

You see, I grew up in a margarine household. My mom said we couldn’t afford butter. Every Christmas she’d buy one box for our holiday table, and that was a huge treat.

These days, I’m in charge of managing my own family’s economy, and I’ve become all too familiar with how expensive real butter can be. I’m not willing to compromise and buy margarine, so we plan ahead and stock up on a year’s supply when it goes on sale for half price in December. Butter is just one of the many things we stock up on in December to save money.

For my holiday table, butter is still the centerpiece. For this special occasion, we make our own homemade cultured raw milk butter.

They say that each generation wants a little better for their children, and that’s the mark of progress. I know it’s a simple way, but we’re a butter-loving people. Instead of margarine year round and butter on Christmas, we have real butter year round and homemade cultured butter on Christmas.

How to Make Cultured Raw Milk Butter

Removing the Cream from Your Raw Milk

First, remove the cream from the top of your raw milk. Most raw milk around these parts comes in wide-mouth Mason jars, and I have a small ladle that fits right into the top to scoop off the cream.

You can scoop off just the very rich heavy cream on the top, or you can scoop it all off, it’s up to you. If you scoop it all off, you’ll have skim milk, but that skim milk will last twice as long in the fridge.

Our raw milk stays fresh-tasting for about five days if left whole, but if we skim every last bit of the cream, that same milk is tasty for 10 full days. We tend to leave the cream on one for immediate consumption, and skim the second jar so that we can have raw milk longer.

Raw milk already has the live cultures in place to make cultured butter. If you’re working with pasteurized cream, you’ll need a bit of starter culture. Cultured buttermilk works great. When buying pasteurized cream, choose a brand without added chemical stabilizers and avoid ultra-pasteurized cream.

Culturing the Cream

Start by leaving your separated cream (or store bought cream) on the counter for 24 hours. For store-bought cream, add a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk for a pint of pasteurized cream.

Room temperature cream is much easier to make into butter than cold cream. Cold cream makes better whipped cream, and warmer cream tends to blow right past the whipped cream stage and go straight to butter. (Keep that in mind if your homemade whipped cream fails.)

Churning the Butter

Whip the butter in a food processor or stand mixer. It’ll first turn to whipped cream, and then butter solids will separate out from the thin buttermilk.

Once the butter has fully separated, it has to be washed to remove all the buttermilk. Knead the butter with your hands, draining off the buttermilk. Rinse the butter mass under cold water, and knead some more. Once the rinse water runs clear, your butter is complete.

How Long Does Cultured Raw Milk Butter Last?

Homemade butter will be a bit harder than store-bought, because store-bought butter has added water, and is only about 80% fat (the legal minimum of course). Keep your cultured butter out on the counter and it will continue to develop flavor and stay softer. Outside of the refrigerator, you should consume it within a week, if it makes it that long.

Stored in the refrigerator, it’ll last much longer. How long will depend on how good a job you did removing every last bit of buttermilk. Wrapped in wax paper, it’ll keep in the freezer for months.

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If you’re going to make cultured raw milk butter for your holiday table, you need a good sourdough bread to spread it on. Check out our recipes for Sourdough Belgian Waffles for breakfast or Basic Sourdough Bread for dinner. 

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Ashley is an off-grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie, and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.

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