Friday, 1 April 2011

Buttermaking advances

I've been making my own butter for some years now and today, whilst making the latest batch, I was reflecting on how my buttermaking has improved during that time.

The amount of cream I use in each session has gradually crept up.  I think I probably started with 2x600ml pots, and today I am using 7 litres.   That's because it's the same amount of effort prepping and clearing up with 1.2 litres as there is with 7. Or 8.   The only limiting factor is suitable pots, and freezer space.  I've even tried using fairy cake cases at one point.

When I started with this, I tried using my food mixer and a food processor (two machines, thought it would be twice aas quick).  The food mixer worked well; the food processor was rubbish. It produced a thick cream, and didn't really spin out the buttermilk.

At some point I bought a Kitchen Aid mixer, and this worked well. No better at buttermaking than my previous mixerm but it was fine.  I worked out a production line for spinning out the buttermilk, washing the butter, piling it up, then putting it the washed and drained butter back in the mixer in 2 pound batches, with the appropriate amount of salt.

Having sorted out my production line, I gradually worked out which were the best of my range of kitchen utensils to use for which job.  Something flexible yet sturdy to help with the washing;  small spatulas to get the butter off the beaters;  a funnel with a filter for draining the buttermilk off the butter into a jug...

We went on to a water meter last year, so I looked at how much water I was using in the washing process,  and started to use the washing-water to clean out the cream containers prior to putting the in the recycling bin,  and also to do the initial cleaning of the bowls and utensils at the end of the process.

My next big breakthrough was the purchase of a newly designed beater for the KitchenAid.  This was a slightly improved shape, and was lined with a rubbery material, which really cleaned the bowl as it mixed.   Immediately, I found that the amount of buttermilk extracted by the mixer went up,  and the amount left in (which you can tell when you wash it) went down.

Today I implemented the next "innovation".  KithcenAid have started to do plastic non-sealing covers for their bowls, with the idea that if you are making dough you can put a lid on a leave it to rise.   I could see an alternative use.

I bought a pair - I had to get them from the US as UK suppliers all seemed to be out of stock - and I got DH to cut the centre out of one of them.   I tried it fro the first time today, and it's been fantastic.  Finally, the buttermilk doesn't splash over the side of the bowl when it separates from the butter.  Fab, fab, fab.

I've just finished potting up today's salted butter, and it's in the fridge to chill before freezing.    I kept a small bit of butter back, as I need to make some flavoured butter this time (I need to do this after everything else is finished, otherwise there is a risk that my normal butter picks up the flavouring).

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