Butter is made by churning cream until it reaches a semisolid state. Butter by law must be at least 80% milk fat. The remaining 20% consists of water and milk solids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades butter quality based on flavor, body, texture, color and salt. Butter packages bear a shield surrounding the letter grade indicating quality. The grades begin with the finest, AA (93 score), A (92 score), B (90 score), and C (89 score). Butter may be colored with (natural annatto), it also may be salted or unsalted because butter adsorbs flavors like a sponge it should be wrapped airtight for storage.
(Excerpted from ” The River Cottage Family Cook Book” by Hugh Fearnley-Whitinstall and Fitz Carr.Ten Speed Press)
Butter is very easy to make at home. Anything that stirs or agitates cream in a steady, regular way will eventually turn into butter.
You will need very cold heavy cream, a large jar with a tight fitting screw top lid, a wooden board and a wooden spoon. That’s it… Now let’s get started. Take the cream out of the refrigerator and let stand until it doesn’t feel cold to the touch. Once cream reaches room temperature pour just enough cream into the jar so that it fills no more than 1/3 of the jar. You need to leave plenty of air space so that the cream can really move around. Screw the lid on tightly.
Shake the jar up and down and all around (agitate vigorously) so that the cream bounces against the lid. It is important not to stop shaking until the butter starts to form… So get the family involved and take turns. Don’t worry it’ll be fun!
First you’ll feel the cream slop around in the jar, then you’ll notice that it stops slopping and goes silent. At that stage you will just have whipped cream. keep shaking it might take 20 or 30 minutes. When you hear a big lump sloshing around into a thin watery liquid, you’ve got butter!
The liquid is butter milk. Carefully open the lid and pour the buttermilk in to a container for another use. Then wash the lump of butter under cold running water. Fill the jar you were using halfway with fresh, cold water. Return lump of butter to the jar. Swirl it around in the water, then carefully drain and repeat until the water is clear. Put the lump of butter on the board and press with the back of a wooden spoon or use your hands, to force out any butter milk still inside. This is important because any buttermilk left inside will make the butter go sour. Finally wrap and shape butter in wax paper…..Now you are ready to use it.
This is nothing more than softened butter mixed with herbs and spices.
Take softened butter and mix with thyme, minced garlic, rosemary, etc…experiment and use any flavor combination that you would like….After mixing butter with herbs put in plastic wrap and shape into a log…Put the log in the freezer.. You can cut off the desired amount whenever needed.