Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cultured butter from kefir-cultured cream

I attempted my first cultured butter today.


Place your kefir grains into a flow-through bag (this will keep you from having to fish through the cultured cream, which is as thick as creme fraiche, the next morning to retrieve your kefir grains) and add the bag to a quart or so of raw cream in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir gently, then cover loosely with a clean cloth. In the morning, the bowl will contain cultured cream. (Which by the way is delicious -- far superior in both taste and texture to commercial sour cream. Use it in place of sour cream, or mix with honey and use in place of cream fraiche or whipped cream.) Fish out the bag containing your kefir grains, squeezing the bag gently to remove as much of your cultured cream as possible.

Place the bowl of cultured cream into the fridge until the temperature of the cream is 60 - 65 degrees. (I use a probe thermometer.) When the cream is at the correct temperature, snap the bowl into the blender and using the whisk attachment (and the shields!) whip on high until the butter comes. I scraped the sides down once after a few minutes.

Drain the butter into a sieve over a catch-bowl. In the bowl you now have cultured buttermilk, and it's delicious if you drink it immediately. If you don't drink it immediately, use it for cooking. If you have no culinary use for it, pour it over the dog's food. I've also used it to encourage the growth of moss in my garden -- moss loves buttermilk.

Place the butter into a small bowl and cover with cold water. (I fill it from the tap and add an ice cube.) With a wooden spoon, press the butter against the sides of the bowl. When the water becomes cloudy, dump it out and start with fresh water, each time using the wooden spoon to turn and press the butter against the sides of the bowl. Turn and press, turn and press, dumping cloudy water and adding fresh water (and if needed another ice cube) again and again until several minutes of turning and pressing don't cloud the water. This step is the most time-consuming and tedious, and it's tempting to stop too soon. Any buttermilk left in your butter will quickly turn rancid, ruining your butter.

When the water stays clear after several minutes of working the butter, drain and place on a cutting board. Work the butter a little longer to work the water out of it, then spread on the board and if desired, lightly salt, work a little longer to work the salt through, then pack and chill. I generally put the finished butter on to a piece of plastic wrap and roll it into a log, then chill. If it's intended for the freezer, I mark and seal.

On first taste, I don't actually detect much difference between the cultured butter and the butter made from fresh raw cream. I need to do a side-by-side taste test using a bland cracker or bread as the delivery medium. Or possibly I need to culture the cream for a longer period before making the butter to develop a stronger taste.

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