If you've been reading this blog for very long, you'll know that I have a slight fixation with pioneer living. Probably because there's a lot of cross-over between pioneer living and self-sufficiency and homesteading.
Last year (well, actually November 2008) I hosted a Pioneer Week, to encourage people to try living a little more simply by observing some basic living skills like making all your meals from scratch, drastically reducing your energy and water consumption, limiting your transportation, keeping your entertainment very basic and purchasing only necessities. For a full list of "rules" you can check out this post.
If any of you are interested in having me host this again, I'd be happy to. We didn't have a huge amount of participation last time, but I know those that did it really enjoyed it. It may make sense to wait until a little later in the year to do a Pioneer Week again, when weather and daylight are a little more agreeable.
Anyway, in the meantime, I was planning on posting some basic ideas and how-to's of things that are lost on most of us. I grew up in suburbia and learned limited (okay, nothing) about how to survive on my own without store bought everything. I've managed to teach myself quite a few things in my adulthood, but there's still plenty more to learn (see yesterday's Skills to Learn in 2010 post for ideas).
These "Pioneer Skills" posts will be simple, short and sweet. Here is one oldie but goody to get you started...
How to Make Your Own Butter
For full instructions including step-by-step pictures, see this post.
If you haven't tried this one yet, then you really need to give it a go. The taste difference from regular store bought butter is definitely worth the extra effort. You can use the leftover "buttermilk" as a milk substitute in cooking, just know that it is fairly low-fat.
If you thought that you couldn't make butter by hand without a churn or some sort of fancy equipment, then I'm here to tell you that all you need is a little heavy whipping cream, a Mason jar and lid and two hands. It will take you about 30 minutes.
Let the shaking begin!
1. Collect all the necessary equipment. I highly recommend trying to find local, organic cream as the quality is much better, but you can use whatever you have on hand if need be. I generally use a pint of heavy whipping cream and a quart canning jar with lid.
2. Leave the cream out on the counter for a while (the longer the cream sours, the less sweet the butter will be). Once the cream is warmed up to about 60 degrees then pour it into the Mason jar.
3. Put on the lid and start shaking it. After about two minutes you'll see a nice lightly whipped cream.
4. After about four minutes it will look like thick, whipped cream. Resist the temptation to empty the entire Mason jar into you mouth at this point. But do crack it open and breathe in the heavenly, sweet scent.
5. After about nine minutes of shaking, the cream will start to separate from the sides of the glass. Feel free to take a break.
6. After about fourteen minutes, the whey starts separating from the butter.
7. After about sixteen minutes, the curd is more noticeable and there's a lot more whey.
8. At this point you can start pouring the buttermilk off. Continue shaking for a few minutes until your butter has solidified a bit more and until you aren't getting anymore buttermilk off of it.
9. Pour out the butter into a bowl. Pour cold water over the butter and start "massaging" the butter with a spatula to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out. Continue replacing the water until the water stays clear. Drain.
10. Mold your butter into butter molds or into ramekins (or store in an old food safe plastic container). You will also end up with a scant cup of buttermilk (depending on how "juicy" your cream is).
Voila! Butter. In less than thirty minutes.
[This can also be done using a standing mixture, just be careful to stop it when the butter separates from the buttermilk or you will remix it and it won't separate again.]