Inspired by one of our Bread-Clubbers, Lisa, I snapped up a couple of marked down tubs of double cream in the Co-op last week. I'd hesitated rather over butter making, probably as I remembered a whole lot of shaking of jars for a teaspoon of butter after a childhood visit to a farm. With two 600ml tubs of double cream with use-by dates of the next day sitting on the counter, it was time get over my worries about sore arms and low yields and have a go.
Having consulted both Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making and Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, I decided to use the 'shake it in a jar' method, which appealed both to my love of simple methods and my lazy reluctance to lift the Kenwood over to the work surface. I tipped half of one tub into a large jar and shook it well. Before long I had a lovely jar of whipped cream. Nice, but not exactly what I'd been hoping for. I consulted Ricki again, who advised that raising the temperature would raise the acidity levels and help things along. So I tipped the remaining half of the first tub into another large jar, stood it in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes and tried again. I got butter!
Again following Ricki Carroll's instructions I strained out the buttermilk (declared delicious by my two small testers), washed the butter with cold water, salted it and popped it in an earthenware pot.
I decided to add buttermilk to the other tub of cream to have a go at cultured butter. I left the cream out on the counter to culture for twenty-four hours to turn it into creme fraiche before going again with the shaking. The cultured butter was even more delicious than the plain, richer and more buttery somehow.
So here's my method for Cultured Butter
Add a dessertspoon of buttermilk to a tub of double cream (600ml double cream yields about 320g butter). Leave to culture for around 24 hours. I don't know if commercial creme fraiche would work here - let me know if you've tried it. Put it into a large glass jar with a well fitting lid. You want it about a third full, so you might have to do it in batches. Now shake. Because the creme fraiche is quite solid, it's more of a thump than a splosh, but after three to five minutes of shaking you should notice that it has separated into butter and buttermilk.
Strain out the buttermilk and drop the butter into a shallow bowl. You can use the buttermilk in baking, or use it to culture more cream. At this point it really helps to have some butter paddles, but I'm sure a couple of spatulas would do the trick. Squeeze between the paddles to get out more butter milk, strain this off. Then pour a couple of tablespoons of cold water over the butter and work it in with the paddles. More buttermilk will come out, strain it off. Keep doing this until the water comes out clear - it took me about five goes. Then take a spoon and eat your butter. No, I didn't say that, but do try it at this stage.
Keep your butter in the fridge. I'm afraid I don't know how long it will last, as ours seems to disappear in a few days.