Homemade butter was what I grew up with. My mother would skim the cream off the milk on a daily basis and collect it in a pot that contained yogurt culture. Once every 10 days or so, she would pull it out of the refrigerator and leave it out for a few hours, add some ice cold water and churn it manually with a wooden ravi or a wooden version of this. The butter soon separated and floated to the top. The rest of it was slightly tart buttermilk or taak, a welcome cooler by itself or made into mattha on hot summer days.
A hot boiled egg mashed with freshly made homemade butter and some salt was my nirvana. That was also the only way I would eat egg yolk. I called this safed loni as opposed to regular store bought butter, which was always yellow in color.
Ever wondered why store bought butter, usually made from cow's milk, is yellow? Depending on the cows' diet, the natural color of butter can range from a creamy white to a golden yellow. In order to maintain year round consistency in the final product, manufacturers add annatto which is a food coloring agent.
Homemade butter goes rancid quickly, even when refrigerated, and must be used up or cooked further to make ghee. This was the part I didn't much care for and begged my mother to do it on the day when I had to attend lectures all day and all evening.
There are days when I yearn for homemade butter. I was therefore thrilled to learn about making sweet cream butter when I accompanied Medha's class on a field trip to the Four Mile Historic Park in Denver, earlier this year. It's not quite safed loni but it's almost there.
Homemade Sweet Cream ButterAll you need is
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- A glass jar
- Pour about 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream into the glass jar and close tightly
- Gather everyone in the family and take turns shaking the jar.
- Keep shaking it. After a few minutes of vigorous shaking, it will look like this:
Don't be tempted, it's not done yet!
- It will thicken further but it's not done until you hear the buttermilk start sloshing in the jar and the whap-whap of the solid butter as it bounces off the sides. It should look like this:
We did this in a couple of minutes in summer. In winter, it takes longer, which is why you want to take turns!
- Carefully drain out the buttermilk and save it to knead dough or add to curries, if you wish. If you are like us and can't wait, then go ahead and spread the fresh butter on crackers...
This is also a fun activity to do with children. They make the butter and then enjoy it right away. If you plan to bake with this butter, remember that it has more water content than store bought butter and make changes accordingly. I hope to have pictures from our field trip in my next post. Until then, check out these resources:
The History of Butter
Mattha from Cuisine Cuisine
Indira's Glorious Golden Ghee - a tutorial
Saliu's Andhra Spiced Buttermilk