Forging Fromage (4) – Cultured Butter

When I read that this month’s Forging Fromage assignment was cultured butter, I wasn’t at all sure what cultured butter was. Thus, I did a little research.

I found out that cultured butter was made from fermented cream whereas uncultured butter was made from sweet cream. To be honest, I didn’t even know what kind of butter I had in my fridge. I’ve never really paid attention when I bought butter. So this would be an interesting learning experience. In Germany, there are 3 types of butter:

  1. Sauerrahmbutter: cultured butter made from fermented cream
  2. Mildgesäuerte Butter: cultured butter made from fresh cream, bacterial cultures and lactic acid are then added to the butter and the cultured butter flavor grows as the butter is aged in cold storage
  3. Süßrahmbutter: uncultured butter made from sweet cream

I think the most common type in Germany is the second type, but the other two kinds are widely available, too, whereas the third type seems to be the most common type in the US. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried sweet cream butter, so last time I went grocery shopping I got all three kinds to be able to compare them. And now guess what happened: my favorite butter is the plain sweet cream butter – not cultured at all… Anyway, the assignment was cultured butter, so I made cultured butter. The whole process was easy as pie – a little time-consuming, though. And cold it was! Yes, kneading the butter in ice cold water almost led to frostbite, so be aware ;-). The flavor of the butter was nice, but what I liked even more than the butter was the buttermilk. 2 cups of velvety, extremely yummy buttermilk. I had intended to save it for baking, but no way I was going to waste this amazing buttermilk in baked goods – no, I drank it straight from the cup. YUM!

Cultured Butter

(a recipe by Gaaarp)


  • One quart heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk yogurt (I used organic yogurt; make sure whatever you use doesn’t contain any gums or stabilizers)
  • Salt, to taste (I didn’t add any salt at all)


  1. Mix the cream and yogurt in a clean glass or ceramic bowl. Avoid plastic, which can harbor bacteria in any scratches or imperfections. Cover and let rest for 12 -18 hours, until the mixture has thickened slightly and tastes somewhat tangy. If your room is cool (i.e., less than the mid-70s), it may take longer to culture.
  2. Once the mixture has cultured,  cool it slightly by placing in the refrigerator for an hour or so, or by submerging the bowl in a sinkful of ice water for a minute or two. The ideal temperature is around 60° F.
  3. Prepare a bowl of ice water, which you will use to clean the butter.
  4. Put the cream mixture in a mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form, then reduce the speed to low. Watch closely at this point, as the cream mixture will soon break, separating into butter and buttermilk. If you have a splash guard on your mixer, you might want to use it so you don’t have buttermilk flying everywhere. Once the mixture breaks, turn off the mixer.
  5. Pour the buttermilk into a clean container. You can use this just as you would commercial buttermilk for drinking or baking. If you aren’t going to use it within a week or so, it can be frozen and used later for baking.
  6. Press the butter with a spatula, spoon, or your hand to remove as much buttermilk as possible.
  7. Pour water from the bowl of ice water over the butter to cover. Rinse the butter by kneading it under the water, then dump off the water. Continue to add water and rinse until the water you pour off is clear. It is necessary to remove all the residual buttermilk in order to keep the butter from spoiling too quickly.
  8. Once the butter has been cleaned thoroughly, knead it on the counter for a minute. If you want to salt the butter, press the butter out on the counter, sprinkle lightly with salt, then knead it in. To store the butter, you can press it into ramekins or roll it into logs. Cover the ramekins or wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap. If you make two butter rolls, you can freeze one for later use.

Yields two cups buttermilk and about 12 ounces butter.


14 responses to “Forging Fromage (4) – Cultured Butter

  1. Oh, I’m so glad to know how wonderful this turned out!! I’m looking forward to drinking the buttermilk…mine is in the works right now…sitting 😉 Great job!

  2. We must’ve been on the same page ~ I just made cultured butter yesterday! I thought it was a fun process. Buttermilk must be an acquired taste though; I saved some to try drinking and had to pour the rest out. :-/ (just the rest of the little cup I’d set aside; I kept the larger amount for baking, of course!)

  3. As usual I learn so much from you. I use buttermilk for my fried chicken recipe.

  4. Look at that beautiful butter! I can’t wait to try this. It’s on my list for this week.

  5. Glad you liked it, especially the buttermilk. I thought I was saving the buttermilk from my last batch to bake with, but I kept pouring little glasses of it until it was all gone.

    The last time I made it, I discovered a hand-saving secret. Instead of kneading it with my hands under the ice water, I used a potato masher to squish it up and squeeze out the buttermilk.

  6. I can’t wait to try this. I have seen a bunch of recipes for making butter at home. I tried it once (from my book, “Fat”, whence the bacon fat cookies) but I think as we had ultrapasteurized milk it was a bust. That was a totally different method than you and gaaarp describe, but I still haven’t gotten up the nerve. I would love to try “real” buttermilk.

    By the way I can’t believe you are doing another challenge. I believe you may need one of these shirts:,206493102

    • LOL, the shirt is great! Btw, I’m not sure I’m going to make all those hard or semi-hard cheeses because you need special equipment for them, like a cheese press. But making all the soft and easy ones is fun and I feel I learn so much from doing that. Like, that when you make butter, you will have buttermilk as a byproduct. This might sound silly, but I didn’t know that!

  7. Deine Erklärung was die beiden Buttertypen unterscheidet ist aber nicht stimmig. Sauerrahmbutter wird nicht aus vergorener Sahne sondern aus gesäuerter Sahne gemacht.

    • Ich bin kein Dolmetscher für Lebensmittelchemie, aber soweit ich englischen Websites entnehmen konnte, wird mit Bakterien versetzte Sahne, aus der Sauerrahmbutter gemacht wird, fermented cream genannt… Ich lasse mich aber gern eines Besseren belehren…

  8. Lovely! I am really looking forward to this one.
    (And thanks again to Gaaarp!)
    We are very limited in butter choice in Canada. The gov’t protects the dairy industry and does not allow any other butter in the country. Sniff.
    Can’t wait to try cultured butter!

  9. It looks very good! I like sweet cream butter for baking, but for eating it has to be cultured!

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