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How to Make Butter: Step-by-step guide with pictures (raw milk tips)

April 19, 2013

Probably my most favorite thing about having a milk cow is being able to make my own butter. The taste and color are just not the same of store bought butter and it’s easy to see. Butter is one of the most vilified foods today and people are more than willing to replace it with toxic margarine or other butter substitutes. To me there is no substitute.

While Westen A Price was doing his intensive studies on non-“civilized” cultures he found that certain groups held butter in high regards, especially during certain times of the year. That time of year was in the early spring and summer when the grass is tender and fast growing. He found that the butter had special properties in which couldn’t be found any other time of the year, he called it the X factor (Why Butter is Better). Now scientist believe that it is vitamin K2 that is the sacred ingredient in this butter that comes from cows grazing on fast growing green grass. Here is another website with more information on the benefits of raw butter: (Benefits of Raw Butter & Why to Avoid Pasteurized Dairy)

With all that said, right now I’m making as much butter as I can and freezing it for the year, since it is such a short window of time to get as much of this “super butter” as possible. The cream is a deep yellow and the butter almost is a light orange, it is truly beautiful.

Without further explanation of the science of butter, here’s how to make it from raw milk. You can use store bought cream, but I cannot guarantee results.

Here is two gallons of fresh milked, milk. As you can clearly see the cream has risen to the top after several hours of sitting in the refrigerator.
Here is two gallons of fresh milked, milk. As you can clearly see the cream has risen to the top after several hours of sitting in the refrigerator.
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Next we are going to skim the cream off the top as best as possible. I usually am liberal at how much I take off, bringing milk with me. I have a handy device that’ll help separate it further.
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This is a grease separator. A recent discovery I made that has helped a  bunch when it comes to making butter easier. I simply put the cream in it, let it set until it separates…
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Then release the milk out the bottom! What a handy device. Not necessary by any means for making butter, but it allows you to make butter much faster and get more butter out of the cream because it’s not getting mixed with milk.
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Next I put the cream into my blender. You can use a full sized blend, mixer, food processor or even jar with a lid and shake it. Use what you’ve got and don’t go too crazy buying new things because there are several ways to make butter.
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Turn your blender (or whatever method your using) on and allow it to run. Timing is difficult to say, because for me it changes every batch. On low my blender typically takes about 5 minutes to turn the cream into butter. You can typically hear and see the change starting to take place, as shown in the picture.
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Tad Da! Butter! This is what I got when I took the top off my blender, beautiful butter! But we aren’t quite finished yet…
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Next we strain the butter. What is left over is called buttermilk. I am always using buttermilk so make sure to catch the strained buttermilk into a jar or bowl for other uses (what to do with buttermilk). I use a slotted/mesh spoon, but you can use cheese cloth or an old t-shirt to strain it, if you wish.
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At this point the butter is “dirty,” meaning there is still buttermilk within the butter and we are going to do our best to clean it, because leftover buttermilk in your butter will cause your butter to be bitter and spoil quickly.
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There are several methods at this step of cleaning. I just keep my butter in a bowl and turn on a slow, very cold stream of water on. As you can see the water is still a little blurry and not clear yet. Work the butter with your hands in the water until the water runs clear.
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Once the water is clear I dump the water and continue to work the butter with my cold hands. I continually dump any water particles that form out of the bowl until most of the water is gone (it’s not going to be perfect, but the important part is getting the buttermilk out).
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Finally when you butter is as clean as you can get it add as much or as little salt to taste. Salt help preserve butter longer, especially if it’s sitting out on the counter. At this point you can either put it in a mold (fun, but not necessary), leave it in the bowl and use it when needed, or put it on some wax paper and roll it, smash it into whatever makes you happy and seal the ends and freeze it for future use.

Butter making is quite the simple task and is an absolute must if you have a milk cow! Once again, everything is by trial and error. Don’t get totally discouraged if your first batch of butter doesn’t set up and you have to throw it away. For a long time I couldn’t get all the buttermilk out of my butter, so it was always pretty strong tasting and I would only use it in cooking. Now I’ve figured out how to clean it pretty well and the butter is good for everything, especially on fresh sourdough bread!

Milk/cream is so versatile! Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the possibilities.

What do I do with the buttermilk?

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  1. Looking forward to reading about what you do with Buttermilk! Thank you for your practical approaches to self sustained living! 🙂 Blessings!

    1. I find it’s impossible to remove all the cream, so it’s not 100% low fat, but you are definitely taking the majority of the fat source out of the milk. Probably closer to 1-2% milk than anything 🙂

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