This is the second in my Raw Milk Cheesemaking 101 (For Beginners & Beyond) Series of Free Classes (Videos & Articles).
Today is all about one of the greatest pleasures in life — butter, real butter. Traditional, homemade butter.
I'll be showing you how to make authentic European-style butter with cultured raw cream in this article and video.
In the next recipe (and in the same video below) I'll demonstrate how to take the leftover buttermilk and turn it into traditional Irish soda bread that I adapted from the first historical reference to soda bread. My version uses einkorn wheat instead of modern flours and I soak the flour overnight in the buttermilk first before baking in the morning.
See the recipe here: Traditional Irish Soda Bread With Einkorn Wheat & Cultured Raw Buttermilk
If you don't have access to raw cream, you can use pasteurized cream instead, but we won't be culturing it first — rather, it will just be churned into equally delicious sweet cream butter. All of the steps will be the same, save for the very first one so you can follow along too.
Watch The Recipe Video
Raw Cultured Butter & Irish Soda Bread From Leftover Buttermilk | Historical Recipe (1836)
Whatever you're making — cultured butter or sweet butter, making your own is a fascinating but basic process that doesn't require any kind of special equipment except for a common hand mixer. Yes, blenders work too. And if you have a traditional butter churn, go for it.
My personal preference is for a hand mixer but I would also love to get a traditional table-top butter churn one day.
You could, of course, spend a much longer time simply whisking cream in a bowl or shaking it vigorously in a jar until it separates into butter and buttermilk — but I really don't recommend these last two methods for what I hope are obvious reasons.
What Is Cultured Butter? How Does It Differ From Sweet Butter?
Cultured butter is simply butter that has been made with cultured cream. It has a tangy flavour and more naturally occurring active probiotic bacterias.
You can only make true cultured butter with raw cream — unless you're a food scientist that is. Cultured butter that you typically buy in stores is made with pasteurized milk that has had the live bacterial cultures added back into it that the pasteurization killed off in the first place.
You (probably) can't do that at home, so let's stick to raw cream for this recipe unless you're making the sweet cream butter version.
I have seen recipes that involve adding yogurt to pasteurized cream, and although I'm sure they are lovely, they will still lack the complexity of the naturally occurring bacteria in raw cream. I'm also very hesitant to leave pasteurized dairy out at room temperature for that long.
Sweet cream butter is made with uncultured cream. You can use raw or pasteurized depending on what you have access to. The cream does not have live bacteria added into it and it is not left out to ferment for any period of time.
Sweet cream butter will be, well — sweet, versus the tanginess of the cultured stuff.
Both are delicious and I make and love them equally, but cultured butter will definitely have some added benefits in terms of bacterial activity.
Cultured (or fermented) dairy contains lactic acid-producing bacteria that break down both lactose (specific milk sugars) and casein (milk proteins) which aids in your digestion. It is literally a probiotic.
Culturing Raw Cream
In the past, after the milking was done each morning, a bit of the precious cream would be skimmed from the top after the milk had settled and placed aside by the women.
That cream would be saved and added to until there was enough to make a quantity of butter for the family.
There was no refrigeration of course, and no one knew what bacteria was back then, but this process would become the first cultured cream and the first cultured butter.
Leaving raw cream at room temperature for about 24 hours is all it takes.
This process allows the good, beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in raw milk and cream to flourish and multiply. The end result is a tangy flavour to your homemade butter which has also been transformed into a probiotic and nourishing food by this process.
On Raw (Unpasteurized) Milk & Can You Culture Pasteurized Cream?
Technically you can, with yogurt or similar. But I've never tried it. And I do not trust pasteurized dairy to be left alone at room temperature for any length of time.
Most yogurt you can legally buy will have had live bacterial cultures added back into it after being made from pasteurized dairy so it lacks complexity and variety as the naturally occurring cultures can never be (or not yet) fully replicated.
To culture cream properly, it must be relatively fresh and raw (unpasteurized). This is because the good, beneficial bacteria in milk or cream flourishes only in raw milk/cream and only at room temperature.
The same cannot be said for pasteurized milk/cream which spoils and putrifies at room temperature relatively quickly.
I make all sorts of old fashioned, traditional dairy products from raw dairy that I would never attempt with pasteurized for food safety concerns. Does this sound contrary to what you've been led to believe about raw milk safety in much or most of North America? Yes, but the actual science backs up what I'm saying.
Of course, you have to source high-quality raw milk from a reputable farmer or other sources. You are ultimately responsible for your health and well-being.
But that goes for sushi, oysters, and beef tartare too. Actually it goes for anything as you're more likely to get food poisoning from romaine lettuce or spinach these days.
The truth is that the demonization of raw milk in North America, and especially Canada, where it is completely illegal (and I have to resort to bizarre tactics to source it) has NOTHING to do with health and safety. Nothing. Rather it has everything to do with industry, corporate interests, and government overreach.
Are you getting sick of me saying that in every post about dairy or cheesemaking? Too bad. I'm angry and I won't stop. Every time I've had to buy milk from the back of a van in a parking lot I think about how insane it is that the Canadian government is blocking my access to make my own choices regarding a safe, traditional, nourishing food for reasons that the science does not back up.
The first farmer I ever purchased raw milk from in Toronto, a lovely man named Michael Ilgert who is now out of business, was threatened with jail and fined — all for providing willing and knowledgable customers with a simple food product.
What To Do With Leftover Buttermilk or Whey From Butter Making?
After your butter has separated, you will have quite some leftover whey or buttermilk.
Do not throw this away.
You can drink it, you can add it to smoothies. You can use it in MANY other recipes and even make certain dairy products like sour cream.
My next video will teach you how to make traditional Irish Soda Bread with the leftover buttermilk from your homemade butter, so make sure you're subscribed to me on YouTube where I'm posting videos weekly.
How Long Does Raw Butter Keep?
About 3 weeks refrigerated.
The shelf life of homemade raw butter will depend on how well you washed the butter and extracted the buttermilk. If you did a poor job of this, it will likely sour within a week.
Butter can also be frozen without any noticeable loss of quality in texture or taste.
Butter Nutrition Facts
Butter is a healthy traditional fat that human beings have cherished and used for thousands of years. Before the biased war on fat, butter was seen in many places as a traditional healing and nourishing food — because it is one.
Butter is one of the most complex of all dietary fats, containing more than 400 different fatty acids.
It is a great source of Vitamin A (both the Retinol and Beta Carotene forms) as well as Vitamin K2 which is protective against heart disease and osteoarthritis.
Butter, because of its pure fat content will also be a source of naturally occurring Vitamin D3. Most dairy products like milk are fortified with D3, but it does occur naturally in grass-fed raw cream and butter.
Vitamin E is another naturally occurring nutrient. As is butyrate or butyric acid which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the digestive system and has been used to treat Crohn's disease.
But the nutrition of butter will vary vastly based on what the cow is eating. A grass-fed cow grazing on lush green pastures will produce a more nutrient-dense product than one with limited access to high-quality forage.
This should be self-explanatory.
There are no sugars, protein, or carbohydrates in butter. Raw butter will however be a source of microbial cultures and enzymes that are good for your gut. This is still an emerging field that is little studied.
Butter made from raw grass-fed cream is going to have a superior nutritional profile to the industrially produced stuff you typically find in grocery stores.
One of the biggest lies masquerading as technical truths in the raw milk debate is that there is virtually no nutritional differences between raw and pasteurized milk. And you know what? They're right.
But let's read between the lines with what this statement actually means.
Will there be a plethora of nutritional differences between a glass of raw and pasteurized milk from the same Holstein cow that dominates the milk found on the grocery store shelves?
No of course not. Some for sure. B2 is a huge one apparently.
But what about a glass of that milk compared to a glass of raw exclusively grass-fed milk from a Guernsey cow?
Or how about the bacterial activity in a glass of raw versus unpasteurized milk. Probiotic activity is conveniently excluded from that discussion as it is technically not a "nutrient" in the way that Vitamin A is, but it definitely makes a difference health-wise for the person drinking the milk.
The breed of the cow will make a difference just as the diet of the animal will. I prefer the Guernsey breed of cattle and all of my raw milk is sourced from this breed as it produces A2 milk with a higher butterfat content.
Jersey cows are another great breed. I avoid Holstein milk, and that is the majority of what you will find on grocery store shelves.
Unfortunately, you can't find much in the way of actual scientific comparisons and there isn't exactly an industry push to do so either.
Check Out The Full Cheesemaking Series (New Video & Recipe Posted Weekly)
Butter Churns, Butter Storage, & Recommended Reading
If you're interested in the science and politics behind raw milk, buy this book (or get it from your library)
If you're interested in natural raw milk cheesemaking, this is the one to get.
Want a cute manual butter churn instead of a hand mixer? This is adorable and well-made.
Dock 6 Pottery French Butter Dish
DOWAN Porcelain Butter Keeper Crock
- 1 litre of raw cream or 1 litre of pasteurized cream (not UHT)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt Optional and not iodized
- Hand-mixer my personal choice but you can also use a stand mixer, blender, traditional butter churn, or a whisk and your own strength.
For Making Raw Cultured Butter From Raw Cream
- Leave your cream out on your counter at room temperature, covered, for 24 hours before proceeding to the following steps.
For Making Sweet Cream Butter From Pasteurized OR Unpasteurized Cream
Do not leave your cream out for any length of time. Simply do the following:
- Take your raw cultured or uncultured sweet cream and place it into a large bowl.
- Using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream.
- You will eventually (10ish minutes) get whipped cream, keep going.
- After about 10-15 minutes, the whipped cream will separate into yellow fat butter globules and a milky-yellow liquid. Keep going for a couple more minutes until the fat is well separated.
- Using a colander, strain out the buttermilk from the butter into another bowl. Using a wooden spoon, continue to get out as much of the buttermilk as possible.
- Using either your hands or a wide silicon spatula, wash your butter well under cold running water, kneading and squishing it well.
- The cold of the water will firm up the butter making this part easier, and eventually, your water will run clear and not cloudy, meaning that the buttermilk has been well and properly extracted. I prefer to do the washing in another bowl under constant running water.
- Add your salt (optional) to the butter and mix it well with our hands.
- Store your butter refrigerated for up to 3 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 year.