Butter Up

As part of my spring cleaning, I’m working to clean out my fridge. I find myself often buying a bunch of things I plan to eat, and then either decide against it or literally forget it’s there, the freezer wasn’t getting opened very much. But now I’m using a lot more frozen fruit for shakes, and I ran out of room quickly thanks to frozen food I’ve forgotten about. So I made a vow that I cannot buy any food until I’ve used everything in my house (except extremely perishable things like milk, eggs, and yogurt that I use weekly). It’s forcing me to resist many cravings (which is also good for a Lent) and make the most of what I have. For cooking creativity, it’s already proven to be fun.

I was looking for some healthy St. Patrick’s Day recipes for work, when I stumbled across soda bread. I don’t even think I’ve ever had soda bread, but I had all the ingredients in the house already, it seemed fairly simple, and I was out of bread. I found a Betty Crocker recipe (not healthy), a recipe to create some buttermilk, and took on soda bread.

The stages of my butter-making: heavy cream in jar; ‘cool whip-esque’ stage; whipped cream; buttermilk and butter! Oh yeah, and that soda bread.

I’m not entirely sure if my soda bread is on point since I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it’s tasty so that’s a success to me. What I enjoyed most from making the soda bread was finding out how to make my own butter and buttermilk. I am not short on butter in my house, but when I am done, I don’t even know if I want to buy it again. I had heavy cream on stock in the fridge incase I’m ever in the mood for a cream sauce and I found instructions on turning heavy cream into buttermilk. The instructions advised to stray away from ultra pasteurized, but it was what I had and it worked out well anyway.

I filled a Mason jar with the heavy cream I had left (ideally wasn’t enough, but this was kind of experimental anyway) and went to shaking. Really, that’s as simple as it was, but I knew I was in for quite a bit of shaking. The cream is so supposed to go through a couple stages; turn into a whipped cream, and then turn back into liquid with the butter then separated. My grandmother makes her own whipped cream and I’ve seen how much mixing and arm work that takes, so I knew I’d be getting a workout shaking (and I was already sore from the prior day’s workout).

I was not expecting to have so much fun shaking a jar for ten minutes. I was incredibly curious to see how it would turn out, (and that’s what I love about cooking, seeing exactly how flavors and ingredients work out). When it turned to a whipped cream, I had to stop and taste it. If it wasn’t for the bread, the chances of me stopping and just saving the whipped cream were incredibly high, at this point it was like a cool whip texture, but I powered through. It began to thicken until it was like real whipped cream you get on top of a ‘good’ sundae. Again, another taste test. This is when it got tricky because little shakes weren’t moving the cream in the jar, I really had to work my small arms. Finally, after a lot of shaking I could see some liquid break through and it was all down hill from there.

Once that happened, the buttermilk and butter quickly separated as shaking got easier. Because I hadn’t used a lot of cream, it didn’t produce a lot of buttermilk, probably about a 1/2 cup of each. Once the buttermilk is poured out, the instructions calls to knead the butter under cold water to release any more milk to avoid it spoiling quickly. I found it easy to palm the butter, since it wasn’t a lot, and squeeze the handful under cold water until no more milk was released. I sprinkled with sea salt and put back in the jar. I cannot wait to put some over toasted bread on my Saturday morning.

My discovery of butter really overshadowed the soda bread, so I’ll save that topic for another bread test. I can’t wait to make more homemade bread, any suggestions?

The soda bread I tackled was just from good ol’ Betty Crocker.

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