I know butter is kind of a weird name for a blog post, but stick with me.
Since moving to the farm, we’ve both been really interested in self-sufficiency and the idea that one day we might be able to live off our land. I don’t think we’d ever be able to be truly self sufficient here, we just don’t have the time or resources to grow our own cereals to mill in to flour for example, but being able to produce some, if not the majority, of the items we regularly purchase in our food shop and saving some cash in the process is definitely within our reach.
I don’t know if it’s because we were raised in a world where everything is available on the supermarket shelf, or even more recently just the click of a button away online, but we both assumed that producing daily essentials like eggs, bread or fruit and veg must be bloody difficult. Why would we be throwing money at the supermarkets on a weekly basis for these products otherwise?
Now hold on to your hats folks, because I’m about to blow your minds here. Growing your own food or even baking your own bread, is a piece of cake!
Here’s where the butter comes in to the equation.
Iona is doing a phenomenal job of growing a whole host of salad leaves, vegetables and herbs (It turns out she’s quite the green fingered gardener) and is putting me to shame and I’ve had a go at baking bread and rolls and the like, so when we saw James Martin (Celebrity chef, farmer’s son and all round champion of British produce!) create butter on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live! a few weeks ago, I knew I had to give it a try.
I love cheese and have always wanted, and still dream of, producing my own cheese one day, but for know, butter is close enough!
All you need is some double cream, some ice cold water and an electric whisk.
James Martin has the financial clout of the BBC behind him, so was able to use a KitchenAid to whisk the cream. As you can see, I used a food processor but an electric whisk will do the job just fine!
You want to beat the cream for about 10 minutes. It will thicken, then begin to form soft peaks, before eventually becoming stiff and crumbly. Keep going and you’ll soon find a creamy liquid forming at the bottom of the bowl. This is a wonderful bi-product of the process called Buttermilk. Americans love to use it in baking (You’ll have to ask an American why, as I don’t have a clue!) but I just poured it in to a glass and drunk it. I can highly recommend it
Once in the bowl, you want to cover the butter with ice cold water to wash away any of the remaining buttermilk. You’ll probably notice the water turn cloudy immediately, but you want to push down on the butter with a spatula to force out as much of the remaining buttermilk as possible. Tip away the cloudy milk water and repeat the washing process, you may have to do this 5 or 6 times.
It’ll look something like this during the washing process, but don’t be put off. It’ll look like the real thing in no time.
That’s my terrible photo of the finished article. It looks like butter, tastes like butter (great on toast) and best of all, was easy to make!
I hope this wee blog has inspired you to give things a go. It doesn’t have to be butter, you could bake a loaf or grow some herbs on your windowsill! You’ll be surprised how easy it is, it moght save you a few pennies and it’ll be far more satisfying than handing over cash to the supermarket!