As I was looking through the fridge yesterday doing my meal planning for Project Nowaste, I noticed we had about a pint of opened conventional heavy whipping cream that was a couple days past its pull date, leftover from the holidays. I didn't want to toss it and I didn't exactly have a need for that much whipping cream, so I decided to do something I've been planning on doing for a real long time. Make butter.
So, I took a mason jar, poured the whipping cream inside and warmed it up to about 60 degrees. Then I put a plastic lid on it and started shaking it. Like a crazy lady. I took a break in the action and checked it when it stopped sounding liquidy. Inside the jar was a beautifully sweet smelling, lightly whipped concoction. I put the lid back on and started shaking it. Like a total nutball.
The instructions I was following (from the book Hobby Farm that I got from the library this weekend) cautioned against shaking too vigorously once the whey started separating. I didn't know what I was exactly looking for and I didn't want to miss this so I was being extra cautionary. I shouldn't have. I should have just kept shaking it. Like a Polaroid picture. So I did. And lo and behold, at some random magical moment, the whipped cream started solidifying and the whey started separating and there I had a buttery mixture in my jar. I drained off the whey and shook some more until there wasn't much whey to drain.
Then I put the butter in a bowl, covered it with cold water and "rinsed" it until the water ran clear. This is really something you have to experience to understand, but the butter just gets smoothed out (I used a spatula) until it forms the consistency you like. At which point, I drained the water and put the butter into ramekins.
We were on our way out to the Sunday Farmers Market when I decided to embark on this project so I didn't have a whole lot of time, but that didn't stop me from sampling the butter straight up. Which I would never do with conventional, pre-packaged butter cause it would make me gag. But this stuff - you can eat it straight it's so good.
Next time I make it (and I'll be making this again next weekend since it ends up being rather inexpensive compared to organic butter in the grocery store - the local, organic cream is cheaper) I'll take more pictures of the process so you know what I'm talking about. I bet it will taste better with local, organic cream rather than the crap we had lying about. But, I saved some food and had a great time (and workout) in the process.
I tell you it was like freaking magic! I am so excited by how cool this is (okay I'm a total nerd, but you knew that already), that I'd say it's even more cool than handmaking soap. Almost as cool as childbirth. Okay, maybe I'm still on a butter making high. But you have to try this out at least once in your lifetime.
Update: For complete instructions on making your own butter, check out my post on making Handmade butter.