When it comes to the finer and richly indulgent things in life, devouring a slice of freshly baked farmhouse bread topped with a generous slab of home made butter, certainly makes my list of favourite pastime activities!
Growing up on a dairy farm – where milk ran on teet and our daily serve of unpasteurised, calcium rich goodness had to be siphoned from beneath a thick belt of golden-hued cream – spreading anything other than butter on our bread was something of an abomination. By the time I had reached my elite-sporting teenage years, however, my much adored staple had gained somewhat of a big, fat reputation for being bad: a real heart-stopper! And hence, for many years to follow, I ceased my love affair with this naturally alluring compatriot and lived a spread free existence instead.
At around the time that David Gillespie (and other well known celebrities and medical professionals) started to debunk the butter-is-bad myth, Scott and I found ourselves meandering our way through the damson-hedge-rowed, country lanes of Oxfordshire (U.K.). After a perplexing period of of seemingly endless “Wheatley 2 miles” misdirection, our hungry selves cycled upon a thatched cottage selling large rectangular blocks of of freshly churned, jersey-cream butter. One oat-cake smothered bite of the mouth-watering comestible and I was back in my family farmhouse, reunited once more with the love of my girlhood life.
A few weeks ago, as part of an inquiry unit about sustainable food supplies, I donned the covid-19 approved teaching gloves (and ultra-sterilised equipment) to inoculate K1’s class with a two litre sized dose of butter making dynamism. Armed with just two ingredients – sea salt and top quality cream, ordered from our very dedicated farmer’s market outlet owner – and a dozen or so glass jars, K1 and the rest of his enthusiastic class mates shook their way to butter making victory.
Of course no butter creating experience could ever be quite complete without that freshly baked farmhouse loaf on which to spread an ample sized serving of the delectable product!
Oh…and as for the buttermilk byproduct…well…coupled with some freshly harvested rhubarb, it makes a wholesome addition to the ingredients list for that upside down Pear and Rhubarb Afternoon Tea Cake.
For anyone else keen on experimenting with a bit of pandemic induced, food making activity, then I present to you the instructions for making…
Much to my surprise, the process of converting cream to butter (and the buttermilk byproduct) is actually an irreversible (unless you wish to put a whole lot of energy and time into melting and mixing everything back together) physical, not chemical reaction. That is, when you shake the bejeepers out of cream in a contained vessel (such as a jar) the fat particles begin to clump together to create one big mass of golden-hued fat (butter) and a byproduct (buttermilk).
To make butter, fill a sterilised jar half full with cream (about ½ – ¾ cup cream).
Shake the jar until the fat particles have clumped together and formed butter and a white buttermilk. STOP (this will take between 10 – 15 minutes…depending on how energetic the shaking).
Interestingly, if you happen to get really enthusiastic with the jar shaking, then you can actually create a white form of the butter, dubbed “butter-jelly” by K1’s science class. If this does happen, simply empty the butter-jelly from the jar and whisk the mixture until the butter and the buttermilk separate.
Strain the butter through some cotton fabric (or cheese cloth). Stir a little salt (about an eighth of a tsp) through the butter. Spread a sizable serve of your delectable profit onto some freshly baked bread and enjoy…with ravenous relish…the fruits of your hard-shaking labour.