I’m going to admit right now, I’m a bit of a butter snob. Even before the days of feeling at odds with plastic packaging, and trying to limit the things we buy in plastic, I’ve preferred a good, organic, salted butter over a tub of margarine. There really is nothing better than a piece of homemade bread, toasted, and then slathered (is that a word?) with melting butter. I’m feeling a peckish just thinking about it!
But when money is tight, and the price of butter is more than it’s ever been in my adult life, it’s been one of those things that I’ve had to compromise on. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.
Then last Christmas, when our local supermarket seemed to be overflowing with reduced to clear stuff, including some super cheap double cream (19p, what an absolute bargain!) I realized I could just make us a huge store of reduced to clear cream churned butter and then freeze it until we needed it. Light bulb moment! I was so happy! Toast with proper melty (and zero waste to boot!) butter was back on our family’s breakfast (lunch, supper) menu.
I don’t ever remember making butter when we were growing up, but I know it’s something that must have been done, back down the family lines. We had a set of wooden butter pats that lived in the utensil drawer of the house I grew up in my entire life – I have no idea where they came from, or where they ended up, but I remember them so clearly. Making butter is a simple (if energy consuming) task, and one that gives me the same sense of homesteading pride that growing potatoes or mending my clothes does.
Add into the equation that buying reduced to clear cream helps to save a little of the enormous amount of food that is thrown out by supermarkets every year, (plus those plastic pots are the perfect size to be recycled as plant pots for growing veg every spring), and I found that I’d turned a crappy too-poor-for-nice-things situation into something super positive.
It’s a pretty stark reality and one that blows my mind (and not in a good way) every time I read it. A third of all food produced EVERY YEAR, is wasted. By us. And while there is a growing movement of groups focused on saving food from landfill and redistributing it (check out The Magic Hat Cafe as a brilliant example of this, happening here in Newcastle upon Tyne), there is much that we can do to help bring these figures down.
So maybe next time you see some reduced to clear cream, you might be inspired to buy it up, save it from landfill and turn it into some luxurious, homemade butter?
I made this tiny 52 second video to show you how – and my proper Bero Cook Book style method is as follows:
To make your own butter at home you will need:
Some double cream. NOT UHT!!
Either a mason jar or similar large jam/pickle jar, (well washed!) or a big bowl and an electric cake mixer.
Salt to taste.
Some grease-proof paper to wrap it up if you’re freezing it for later (doesn’t often last that long in our house!)
Pour your cream into a mason jar, seal the lid well, and shake. A lot. For a good long while. And then keep shaking. Have a bit of a dance. Get the kids to shake it about. Pass it around and keep shaking!
If you’re making it in a bowl with electricity, whip it up like you’re making whipped cream, and then keep going. Either way, after a while, the fat (butter) will start to separate from the buttermilk, and you will see it change colour to a lovely pale yellow. Keep going. Eventually you will see all the little bits of butter clump together and become quite solid. When this happens, you can stop shaking/whipping.
Strain the buttermilk off into a separate container, and use it to make the most divine scones or pancakes you’ve ever had. Take your clumped up gathering of butter, and wash it under cold water. You’ll probably work out your own way of doing this, but I kind of squidge it, wash, squidge it, wash, until as much of the buttermilk is gone.This is a really important part of the process as if you leave the buttermilk in the butter, it can go rancid quite quickly.
And that’s it! It’s so easy, and can make a big difference not just to food wastage, but to your pocket. If you try this out, please do let me know in the comments how you got on!
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