Self-Reliance Gone Mad — Making Butter
I guess it began during the train of British Covid lockdowns. While we put life on pause, waiting to see how bad the forecast pandemic shortages would become, I looked to develop more self-reliance. Like many others, I started baking bread.
It’s the family joke that my loaves can be used as replacement household bricks. However, I found my saviour on YouTube with no-knead recipes. Wholemeal, seeded, white, olive, they all turned out very palatable and I rose in the family’s esteem.
The nudge towards self-reliance has re-emerged due to the spiralling cost of… everything… particularly food. So, when I spotted an article on making butter I was shocked how easy it seemed. Besides, anything to avoid dusting.
Having purchased the cheapest tub of fresh whipping cream the supermarket offered, I poured it into my heirloom mixer, and set to. Ahem, I mean I switched on the machine. It took around ten minutes to turn chilled cream into the mass seen in the photo, ready to be massaged in iced water to rid any residual ‘butter milk’ which would turn it rancid in double-quick time.
Iced water? So the butter didn’t melt due to the warmth of handling. Who knew? It is suggested the ‘butter milk’ be used in baking, but I found it very drinkable, no different in taste to semi-skimmed milk.
300ml of cream (about half a pint) made approximately 125gm/4oz of butter. I didn’t salt it and 12 days on, sitting in a dish on the kitchen counter, the remainder still tastes fresh on my no-knead bread. 😊
Is home-made cheaper than store-bought? No, it costs about the same, but the sense of wonder watching it solidify and yellow is priceless, definitely a moment to share with grandchildren.
However, I stand in awe of forebears who first separated cream from milk, and then hand-churned enough to furnish an extended family. Those women must have had arm muscles like navvies. Or maybe not.
Trumpeting my efforts on FaceBook, a friend who is a medieval reenactor dropped by to say he’d often made butter ‘in the field’ with a whisk made from the tip of a fir tree. On a warm day it would take about five minutes.
Maybe we’re too wedded to chilled products.
I’m in a Self-Reliance mode at the moment, what with my experimenting with Beetroot Chutney and Sauerkraut, and there’s more tales in the kitchen pipeline, but in the not-too-distant future I intend returning to the tourist delights of British History.
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