Cultured butter (and créme fraîche)

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Iam happy to report that sore shoulders (me) churner’s elbow (M) and one broken lehman’s best butter churn later, M and i have buttered our way through 8 gallons of cream! (if you need to catch up start here) see this?It’s a vat o’ créme fraîche. do you know how hard it is not to just stick your face into a vat o’ créme fraîche when it is sitting on your kitchen table? I do.

You get créme fraîche by mixing in half the amount of cultured buttermilk to cream. cultured buttermilk is the kind you can typically find at the market or farm stand – or directly from the farmer. remember to source it and the cream well because this is the glorious stuff that cultured butter is made of!

For each gallon of cream i used to make cultured butter i added a half gallon of cultured buttermilk.

Stir it to make sure the buttermilk is distributed evenly throughout the cream. let it sit for 12 to 24 hours – depending on the temperature of your kitchen – until it gets thick and tastes deliciously sour.

You might want to stop right here and reserve some of this luscious soured cream for an ulterior plan. i did. (and remember this technique the next time you want créme fraîche – D.I.Y!) with the rest of it, you need to get it in those jars and get shakin’! follow steps 2-8 here.

after the cream is cultured by adding the buttermilk, all is pretty much the same when making either sweet butter or cultured butter. though you will notice a slight difference in the way the fat globules clump together as they are a bit more delicate when making cultured butter.

when it looks something like this:

you’re ready to drain the buttermilk into a bowl. do remember to strain and save it in jars in the fridge. there is much you can do with this cultured buttermilk – more on it below.

once you press all of the buttermilk out you’ll be left with a deeply flavored cultured butter. this is a good time to add salt to taste, and mix it in so it’s evenly distributed.

you can see the cultured butter is lighter in color than the sweet butter – that’s because of the added cultured buttermilk. it’s the buttermilk that gives it the unmistakable tang cherished in many european butters.

once salted, i packed mine into smaller jam-sized mason jars for freezing, as this is the butter i like best for eating out of paw. absolutely nothing is better for spreading on all manner of toast, scones, pancakes, and biscuits! and my favorite of all, nestled snugly under a tart and sweet marmalade. oh!

in general cultured products last longer than non-cultured. this means that the butter will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge as long as you’ve pressed the buttermilk out completely.

now, back to the buttermilk: this buttermilk will last in the fridge for a few weeks. i won’t argue with you if you want to use it all up for the best damn pancakes you’ve ever had, but there’s so much more to it than that! first off, you don’t have to keep buying it, you can use it to sour more cream to make more créme fraîche and cultured butter. you can also use it to make more buttermilk – just add 1/4 cup to a quart jar and fill the jar with milk, seal tightly and give it a shake. leave it a room temperature and you’ll have a quart full of buttermilk the next day – at about 24 hours.

this buttermilk is outta this world in these salty yogurt drinks when used in place of the yogurt. if you are a raw milk drinker like me, the very cool thing about the buttermilk culture as opposed to the yogurt culture is that it doesn’t have to be heated to a higher temperature to make magic. so you can make your buttermilk for drinking exactly as above by filling the quart jar with raw milk, and enjoy raw milk ayrans and lassis!

oh gosh, there’s just so much to roar about today! and speaking of paws (i was, wasn’t i?) i gotz mine on the first strawberries of the season up here in the berkshires.

local strawberries + créme fraîche made from local cow’s cream + local maple sugar

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