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Homemade Butter - getting the water out after washing?

DanielCoffey's picture

Homemade Butter - getting the water out after washing?

I am hoping that some of you make your own butter at home for your families and perhaps could share your tips on techniques or equipment for the following two issues I am having.

I am lucky enough to have a local organic farmer with a pedigree herd and he low-temperature pasturizes his cream and sells it in one pint bottles as "double" or about 50% fat so it is perfect for making butter. When I do make butter by beating it in my KitchenAid mixer of course I can get the raw butter made but it does not last much longer than one to two weeks in the fridge and seems to have quite a bit of water left in it. I suspect both my rinsing and forming need some work.

I am using the KitchenAid with the K-Beater to beat the cream until it just separates. I then slow right down and allow it to form chunks in the bowl. I pour off and keep the lovely buttermilk for baking. So far, so good.

I then add some ice cold water and set the motor to the lowest speed to move the pieces of butter around in the bowl till the form a larger clump in the milky water. I discard and repeat this stage about five times by which time the water is fairly clear. A lot of the butter clumps around the K-Beater so I do scrape it down and try to raise the speed a little until the splashing is too much to help the butter rinse out the whey. I am concerned that I might be beating water INTO the butter at this stage.

Next I place the wet butter on a plate and put it in the fridge to firm up a bit. After half an hour I take it out and place portions onto a cold baking stone and use a pair of wetted wooden butter paddles (the ones by Kilner) to squash the butter about a bit until a little clear water is forced out. If it gets too soft I return it to the fridge for a while.

Next I weigh the butter and add crushed sea salt to 2% by weight and fold it in with the paddles. At this stage a bit more water is expressed as the brine is forced out. No matter how much I fold and squeeze the butter, not much water is expressed but if I slap the paddles into the sides of the block, some does emerge and flick off the ends but it does not seem to be very much.

When I stop working the butter it is very soft so I have to let it firm again before forming it into blocks of about 150g each. These get wrapped in greaseproof paper and then cling film and placed in the fridge to chill. Any that I won't be using quickly go in the freezer.

When I take the butter out of the fridge to use, I notice water beads being expressed when I cut it with a normal knife. This tells me that there is probably more water in the butter I should be removing. If it is a warm day (24C / 75F) then the butter in the dish goes very soft and almost collapses.

Please could yo review my technique and give advice on how to improve my butter. If there is a piece of household equipment that can be used to squeeze the butter then I would be interested to hear about it.

SeasideJess's picture

According to the Joy of Cooking you want to stop churning and drain and wash the butter once it is in pieces the size of corn kernels. I think you are incorporating water by beating it in the mixer with the water until it forms a clump. I would take the bowl out of the mixer once the small pieces of butter have formed, rinse them a few times in cold water, then drain thoroughly and blot with a clean, lint free cloth, then mix in your salt and press.

A tip for making the butter keep longer and giving it a lovely flavor is to ferment the cream slightly before churning it. This is sold as very expensive 'European style' butter in market. But it's easy to do. Just whip in a spoonful of sour cream or creme fresh labeled 'with live and active cultures' such as Nancy's brand and allow to sit in a yogurt maker or an instant pot with a yogurt setting or wherever you proof your bread dough until it has developed a mild sour tang (a few hours.) Then chill and proceed with making the butter the next day.   

BrianShaw's picture

Try using the whisk attachment and “churn” until all solid is inside the whisk. You need to slow the speed to control splashing. This wAy you’ll get the maximum yield with less water. I squeeze it with my hands after washing in ice water. Then dry it with kitchen paper. 

DanielCoffey's picture

I bet it is fun getting the butter ball out of the middle of the whisk. That was why I had used the K Beater last time.

Do any of you have tips for using the wooden butter paddles to get more water out?

BrianShaw's picture

I drain the whey and spin the butterball in the whisk a bit more. Centrifugal force helps remove water. The butter can be easily squeezed between the wires of the whisk. It’s a lot easier than it seems. 

suminandi's picture

Why not wrap the butter wad in cheesecloth  and wring out in a salad spinner?

DanielCoffey's picture

I have not heard of that being done before. The water is not on the surface but is incorporated in pockets inside the butter ball itself so I don't think the spinner would help much.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

as a secondgrader make her farm butter in a blender.  Pulse until the butter was in large lumps and stuck together as opposed to loose.  Saved the super thin buttermilk.  And wash the butter in ice cold water using a paddle and a wooden box over the sink.  (That you have two of them I find quite interesting.  My mother always had one in the kitchen but it was used in the frying pan.  When the paddle wood loose its edges for making butter, it got replaced.  The old one used by the stove.)  The same box used to shape the butter. The paddles were the inside width of the recktangular box.  It was a sort of smash and smear technique.  There might have been a butter board, and rilled butter paddles looking much like mini washboards (or meat hammer) also involved to press out water while shaping it.  

Many years later my young son was helping me bake in the kitchen and I didnt notice him shaking up a carton of whipping cream.  That is, until i needed the cream, gave it a light shake myself and could hear the lumps of butter.  (So much for whipped cream.)  Switched gears (and the frown on my face, he reflected mine) and told him we were making butter and to shake some more until he heard one big lump inside.  Then we opened the carton, drained out the skim milk, and he got to knead the butter several times as the ice water was changed in a large bowl.  He loved it!  He also had fun squeezing out the water.  He shaped it with his little fingers on a plate and into the fridge it went.  Too much fun, had to guard my whipping cream for many years after that.

Probably goes great with Frog bread.