How to: Making Better Butter

The first question people ask me when I tell them that I make my own butter is “Why”?  Butter making is a labour intensive exercise, and making a pound yourself ends up being slightly more expensive than buying a block from the supermarket.  The worst aspect of making butter is the churning; it involves a fair degree of arm shaking to get the cream to transform.  I’m not going to lie, it takes some work.

The payoff, however, is that you will get to eat (or bake) with butter that is much more delicious than what you are probably used to if you have been buying bad butter from the store.  Once you’ve had a batch of better butter, you will find the thought of buying any other butter bitter.


To make butter you will need:

-a quart mason jar

– ½ litre of cream (The higher the fat content the better. If you buy low fat cream you are wasting your time.  I prefer to use whipping cream.)

-yogurt with active bacterial culture in it


The first thing you need to do is unpasturize the cream.  With apologies to M. Pasteur, cultured butter, as it is known when it is made with the bacteria still in it, is richer and yellower and much more flavourful than the wan industrial counterpart that languishes in machine cut blocks in the dairy section of the supermarket.  Accept no substitutes.  Pour the cream in a bowl, put a dollop of yogurt in it, and leave it sitting open at room temperature for half a day.  The magic of freely blowing contamination will do the rest.

When your cream has been sitting for long enough, pour it in the Mason jar, stretch your arms and get to work.  You need to hold the jar with both hands and shake it away from you, so that the cream is sloshing up and hitting the metal lid (which you obviously screwed on tightly).  The trick is to shake the bottle not crazily, but methodically, with a wood chopper’s rhythm, or as though you were rowing a boat.  You must keep doing this step until you have butter.  If you stop too soon, when the cream has turned into a thick foam and seems like it won’t move, then you will only have created clotted cream.  Clotted cream is delicious, but it isn’t butter.


You will know when the butter is ready because suddenly the sound of the operation will change.  It will happen with a thunk.  All at once, a solid object will be knocking around in your jar.  It should take 15-20 minutes of concentrated agitation.  You need not shake more.  The butter is done.

Pour the butter into a strainer and let the liquid fall into a bowl.  This liquid is buttermilk.  it is not the buttermilk you buy at the store (that is 1% milk that has been treated in a big vat with an acid to make it bitter).  This is real, original buttermilk.  You can drink it or use it in baking.  Make pancakes.  The stuff is amazing.  Put your butter in another bowl and mix salt into it, to taste.  Put the butter in a mold, or shape it how you like.  Spread some on a piece of bread and I’ll defy you to tell me it wasn’t worth it.

Written By:

Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

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  • January 14, 2015


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