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:
- Sauerrahmbutter: cultured butter made from fermented cream
- 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
- 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!
(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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare a bowl of ice water, which you will use to clean the butter.
- 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.
- 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.
- Press the butter with a spatula, spoon, or your hand to remove as much buttermilk as possible.
- 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.
- 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.