As a personal trainer I am often asked, “Pete, what’s the best exercise to get me off to a good start in the New Year?” Now, that’s a tricky question because it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. However, if I was Mr Mean Ol’ Personal Trainer, I might reply, “Why not try doing the same exercise you were doing in December, but in January, do it properly.”
But I am not that person (not out loud anyway ) and so I like to offer people something that is fun, challenging and just downright useful. That’s one of the reasons I don’t have many clients…
“Make some fat.” I say.
“No, I already did that in December, now I want to lose it!”
“Yes, I get that. Try butter!”
“No, you’re really not getting this. I tried butter in December and look at the state of me!”
“I don’t mean eating butter – although I doubt that butter consumption is where your issue lies – make some butter. Shake it off!!”
To explain… if you are anything like me, you probably bought a lot of cream over Christmas and used about 5% of it. Yes I know you will have poured the rancid mess away by now but think of this as forward guidance for next year – you’re welcome.
So what do you do with all that unused Christmas cream that could also double up as a workout? You make it into butter, of course. But how does sitting at butter churn, sedately moving a paddle or watching a Kenwood mixer go round and round double as a workout? I hear you ask. The answer is you don’t use them; you use this high tech. piece of gadgetry…
A plastic food saver with a safe, tight fitting lid. It needs to be big enough to accommodate your cream and with room left over to allow the cream to move as you shake it. Mine has a capacity of about 1.5 litres and I had about a litre of cream – a mix of single and double because that was what was in the fridge.
After allowing the cream to come to room temperature, pour it into the container (add nothing else), clip down the lid and shake! And shake. And shake and then shake it some more. If possible get a gullible friend to help you, tag team style. After a while you will begin to feel tired but keep shaking until you are exhausted and can shake no more. At this point, you will want to look at your cream to see how much of it has turned to butter. So unclip the lid, look inside and you will notice that… nothing has changed, so get back on it and shake! After a further period of shaking, you may start hallucinating that Taylor Swift has entered your kitchen, to inspire you on in your shaking workout. In my experience this hallucination happens at the same time as the cream changes from liquid to a solid whipped cream, although I am unsure why this should be the case.
If you are desperately unlucky you may get Shakin’ Stevens instead of Taylor…
…but the effect seems to be the same… oddly. Maybe that explains the 99,000 subscribers to his youtube channel??
Now don’t let me put you off!! Keep shaking!
Eventually, after maybe 45 minutes, when you have nothing left to give, your heart rate is at threshold and your arms are about to drop off, something magical will happen. All of a sudden, the contents of the food saver will go from a thick whipped cream consistency to a splashy liquid. You’ll hear it first then feel it as it changes from whipped cream to a solid lump splashing around in a watery liquid. You made it, the workout is over! Congratulations!
As Taylor fades away, undo the lid and inside you will find this…
Butter, or at least the beginnings of it. The small popcorn like spheres are the butter and the liquid is buttermilk. You need to remove the butter from the buttermilk and then wash the buttermilk off the butter. If you leave buttermilk on the butter it will go rancid and spoil the butter.
Before I get ridiculed, I know that buttermilk is useful and I could make buckwheat pancakes with it or use it to start a lactic fermentation in my sauerkraut… but today is butter making, my kimchi is already fermenting, I’m not eating any dairy or grains and my freezer is full, so it has gone down the sink. I’m sorry.
Next, with cold, clean hands, you need to pick up the butter and wash it under running water, squeezing the buttermilk out from between the little spheres and amalgamating the butter globules into a pat.
Keep your hands cold and keep washing the butter until the water runs clear. Then you need to get the water out of the butter. Either you can squeeze it by hand or you can use some butter pats (which take a bit of getting used to). Either way, hands and pats need to be cold.
After several minutes patting you will have got the water out and your butter is ready. I have a little butter mould to give it a pretty shape but it’s just an affectation you can just shape it with cold hands. If you want to you can add a little salt – soft sea salt crystals are the best as they give a gentle crunch to the butter – rock salt will probably break your teeth so don’t use that. Carve an “S” for salt in the butter so you remember which is which.
How much butter you get is going to depend on the fat content of your cream, which will vary with the type of cream, the cow it came from and the time of year. From my litre of mixed single and double cream I got just under 300g of butter. I made 125g each of salted and unsalted butter with a bit left over to make some herb butter later.
I wrap mine in greaseproof paper and keep it in the freezer until needed then use it all at once, as I don’t trust myself to wash all the buttermilk out.
So there you have it. Home made butter from leftover cream that would have otherwise been wasted, plus you get buttermilk to start off your sauerkraut or kimchi fermentation or to make buttermilk pancakes with AND an upper body workout to boot!
What more could you ask for in dry January?
If you would like a fuller, clearer and much more professional explanation of how to make butter at home, check out Bread and Butter by Richard Snapes, Grant Harrington, Eve Hemingway. You may never buy butter again (if you have a Kenwood mixer)! 😉