Country Traditions

May 8, 2011

Make Your Own Butter: Organic Gardening

Filed under: Churning butter, family, herbs, recipes — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 8:08 am

Homemade, fresh organic butter can be made in minutes—10, to be exact. All that’s needed is organic cream and an electric mixer.

“It is so simple, but so exquisite,” says Monique Jamet Hooker, professional chef and author in DeSoto, Wisconsin. She grew up on a farm in Brittany, France, and as a child took turns with her sisters working the butter churn. But she’s given up the old-fashioned method in favor of the electric mixer.

via Make Your Own Butter: Organic Gardening.


October 12, 2010

How to make butter

Filed under: Churning butter, herbs, recipes — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 10:48 am
Butter making woman

Image via Wikipedia

Homemade butter butter from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

One morning at the Cookery School, one of the students was whipping cream for pudding. She left it to whip merrily in the food mixer while she went off to put the finishing touches to the rest of her meal. Suddenly there was a sloshing sound. The cream had overwhipped and she was astonished to see what was essentially butter and whey in the bowl. She was just about to dump it when I came around the corner, and just managed to save it before it went into the hens’ bucket. I gathered the other students around and showed them the miracle of how cream turns into butter. Their amazement and delight made me realise that over half the group didn’t know that butter comes from cream, or how easy it is to make butter at home without any special equipment. This is definitely a forgotten skill.

  1. Forgotten Skills of Cooking
  2. by Darina Allen
  3. 600pp,
  4. Kyle Cathie,
  5. £27.00
  1. Buy Forgotten Skills of Cooking at the Guardian bookshop

When I was a child, butter was part of everyday life on dairy farms, and I learned the simple art of making it from my great-aunt Lil, who lived in County Tipperary. Every farm had a churn, but you don’t need a churn or any specific equipment to make butter; in fact, if you over-whip cream, like my student did, you can quite easily make butter by accident. (I’ve done it on many occasions!) Then all you have to do is drain and wash it several times, knead it until the water runs clear, and then add some salt to preserve it. A food mixer is an advantage, though not essential. You can also turn cream to butter by shaking the cream in a jam jar, though it begins to be hard work.

I’m very fortunate to live in a country renowned for its wonderful butter. In Ireland we grow grass like nowhere else in the world, because our climate is ideal for it – all that lovely soft rain. The Cork Butter Market, which opened in the 1770s and continued to trade for 150 years, was the biggest in the world and exported Irish butter as far as the Caribbean. The butter was packed in hardwood casks called firkins and brought by horsedrawn cart from Kerry and West Cork which are still known today as butter roads.

Originally home buttermakers didn’t understand the science of buttermaking, but were well aware that it sometimes inexplicably could go wrong, so many piseogs (superstitions) prevailed. Butter luck required following all sorts of rituals, like placing a horseshoe below the churn or sprinkling primroses on the threshold of the churning room, though only if they’d been picked before sunrise. In County Mayo, using a dead man’s hand to stir the churn was highly recommended!

Nowadays, butter has to compete with a bewildering variety of spreads. I prefer good, honest butter. We know where it comes from and it has no additives, nor does it require any complicated processing.

Butter stamps

Butter stamps were a traditional way of marking butter. People often used a flower or plant motif etched into a wooden stamp. They would dip the stamp in cold water then press it onto little butter pats to make their butter completely unique.

Making butter

You don’t absolutely need butter bats to make butter, but they do make it much easier to shape the butter into blocks. They’re more widely available than you might think, considering buttermaking is certainly an alternative enterprise, but keep an eye out in antique shops and if you find some, snap them up. A good pair will bring you butter luck.

Unsalted butter should be eaten within a few days, but the addition of salt will preserve it for two to three weeks. Also, you can make butter with any quantity of cream but the amount used in the recipe below will keep you going for a week or so and give you enough to share with friends (though not in my house!).

Remember, sunlight taints butter (and milk) in a short time, so if you are serving butter outdoors, keep it covered.

Makes about 1kg (2¼lb) butter and 1 litre (1¾ pints) buttermilk

2.4 litres (4 pints) unpasteurised or pasteurised double cream at room temperature
2 teaspoons dairy salt (optional)
Pair of butter bats (also called ‘butter hands’)

Soak the wooden butter bats or hands in iced water for about 30 minutes so they do not stick to the butter.

How to make butter 1Whisk the cream at a medium speed in a food mixer until it is thick. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Pour the double cream into a cold, sterilised mixing bowl. If it’s homogenised, it will still whip, but not as well. If you’re using raw cream and want a more traditional taste, leave it to ripen in a cool place, where the temperature is about 8°C (46°F), for up to 48 hours.

Whisk the cream at a medium speed in a food mixer until it is thick. First it will be softly whipped, then stiffly whipped. Continue until the whipped cream collapses and separates into butterfat globules. The buttermilk will separate from the butter and slosh around the bowl.

How to make butter 2Turn the mixture into a cold, spotlessly clean sieve and drain well. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Turn the mixture into a cold, spotlessly clean sieve and drain well. The butter remains in the sieve while the buttermilk drains into the bowl. The buttermilk can be used to make soda bread or as a thirst-quenching drink (it will not taste sour). Put the butter back into a clean bowl and beat with the whisk for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute to expel more buttermilk. Remove and sieve as before.

How to make butter 3Knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Fill the bowl containing the butter with very cold water. Use the butter bats or your clean hands to knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. This is important, as any buttermilk left in the butter will sour and the butter will go off quickly. If you handle the butter too much with warm hands, it will liquefy.

Drain the water, cover and wash twice more, until the water is totally clear.

Weigh the butter into 110g (4oz), 225g (8oz) or 450g (1lb) slabs. Pat into shape with the wet butter hands or bats. Make sure the butter hands or bats have been soaked in ice-cold water for at least 30 minutes before using to stop the butter sticking to the ridges. Wrap in greaseproof or waxed paper and keep chilled in a fridge. The butter also freezes well.


Salted butter
If you wish to add salt you will need ¼ teaspoon of plain dairy salt for every 110g (4oz) of butter. Before shaping the butter, spread it out in a thin layer and sprinkle evenly with dairy salt. Mix thoroughly using the butter pats, then weigh into slabs as before.

Spreadable butter
I much prefer unadulterated butter, rather than butters with additives that change the texture. So if you want to be able to spread butter easily, simply leave it out of the fridge for a few hours in a covered container.

Butter ballsButter balls or pats. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Butter balls or ‘pats’
This is a traditional way of serving butter for the table and at Ballymaloe House, staff members make butter balls every day and butter is still served in this way. Put the butter bats or hands into a deep container of iced water for about 30 minutes. Cut the cold butter into dice. Pick up a piece with the butter bats. Hold one bat flat with the ridged side upwards and the knob of butter on top, then roll the other bat around over the butter to form a ball. Drop each into a bowl of iced water.

Clarified butter
Clarified butter is excellent for cooking because it can withstand a higher temperature when the salt and milk particles are removed. Butter starts to burn at 177°C (350°F), whereas clarified butter can withstand temperatures of up to 252°C (485°F). Use clarified butter for recipes where you want the flavour of butter without the risk of burning, like in a French omelette, when cooking fish à la meunière, frying eggs and so on.

To make clarified butter, melt butter gently in a saucepan or in a Pyrex measure in a very low oven, at 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Leave it to stand for a few minutes, then spoon the crusty white layer of salt particles off the top. Underneath this crust there will be a clear liquid butter – the clarified butter. The milky liquid at the bottom can be used in a white sauce.

Ghee is clarified butter from India, usually slightly soured and made from either cow’s or water buffalo’s milk. It cooks longer, hence it keeps longer, and has a lovely nutty flavour.

To make ghee, melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat for about 45–60 minutes, by which time the sediment will have settled on the bottom of the pan. Strain through a cheesecloth into a sterilised tin or jar, cover and store in a fridge.

Maitre d’hotel butter
This is one of the oldest classic flavoured butters, I remember it as a child at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin. People add all kinds of ingredients to butter nowadays, but originally it was served this way. It is good served with a piece of pan-grilled fish or steak.

110g (4oz) butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cream the butter, then add in the parsley and a few drops of lemon juice at a time.

Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.


Watercress butter
Substitute watercress for parsley in the above recipe. Serve with Pan-Grilled Fish using 8 x 175g (6oz) fresh john dory fillets.

Wild garlic butter
Substitute wild garlic for the parsley in the recipe above. Serve with pan-grilled fish or meat.

Fresh herb butter
Substitute a mixture of chopped fresh herbs, e.g. parsley, chives, thyme, fennel or another herb for the parsley. Serve with pangrilled fish.

Mint or rosemary butter
Substitute 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint or 1–2 tablespoons of rosemary for the parsley and serve with pan-grilled lamb chops.

Dill or fennel butter
Substitute dill or fennel for the parsley. Serve with fish.

Mustard and parsley butter
Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the basic recipe. Serve with herrings.

Nasturtium butter
Substitute 3 tablespoons of chopped nasturtium flowers (red, yellow and orange) for the parsley. Serve with pan-grilled fish.

Garlic butter
Add 3–5 cloves of crushed garlic. Slather over bruschetta or toast. Also great with pan-grilled fish, meat or vegetables.

Anchovy butter
Add six anchovy fillets and mash them in. Serve with pan-grilled fish or fresh radishes.

Brandy or rum butter
If you have a food-processor, use it for this recipe and you will get a wonderfully light and fluffy butter.

75g (3oz) unsalted butter
75g (3oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons brandy or Jamaican rum, or more to taste

Cream the butter until it is very light. Add the icing sugar and beat again. Then beat in the brandy or rum, drop by drop. Serve with plum pudding or mince pies.

• This method and recipes are taken from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen (Kyle Cathie, £30) with photography by Peter Cassidy


September 17, 2010

Daily Chores

Filed under: Churning butter, farming, laundry, quilting, sewing, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:55 pm

Mondays – Wash Clothes (by hand in sudsy water, ring it, rinse it, ring it, hang it outside to dry. This took all day.)

Tuesdays – Iron ( Iron everything – shirts, pants, and underwear. There was no permanent press – everything was very wrinkly. This took all day.)

Wednesdays – Mend and work on new sewing projects (She sewed patches onto pants and mended socks. My grandmother sewed all of my mother’s clothes until she reached the middle of high school.)

Thursdays – Cleaning of bedrooms and bathrooms (They only had one car which was normal in those days. Grandpa did the grocery shopping and grandma worked the garden.)

Fridays – Cleaning of living room, dining room and kitchen (Grandma baked every day. She made cinnamon rolls, pies, donuts and cakes from scratch.)

Saturdays – Prepare for Sunday by cooking double meals and giving bathsetc. (Grandma always made hamburgers for dinner on Saturdays because they were fast. Then she focused on the Sunday Roast and sheet cake that they would eat after church.)

Sundays – Day of Rest

Grandma’s life was full and busy as she lovingly cared for her family. She served God by serving her family. She worked with eager hands (Prov. 31:13b), she set about her work vigorously (Prov. 31:17), she watched over the affairs of her household and did not eat the bread of idleness (Prov. 31:27). And the most beautiful part was she feared the Lord (Prov. 31:30).

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Buttermilk Cake by SYLVIA Britton

Filed under: Churning butter, recipes — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:08 pm
I subbed some self-rising flour for baking pow...

Image by urbanfoodie33 via Flickr

A simple country buttermilk cake with strawberries is the perfect accompaniment to an evening meal.  This recipe is very old and very simple. It makes a great cake for afternoon tea and for whipping up quickly when company comes over unexpectedly.

Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by buttering it well and then sprinkling it with flour, shake out excess flour. Preheat oven to 400*F.


1 1/4 cups self rising flour or use 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cups sugar
Another 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups capped, chopped strawberries or use whole raspberries or even whole blackberries
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Cream butter and 2/3 cups sugar til its fluffy and light colored. Add the egg and mix in. Add the flour )salt,soda and baking powder if using) mix well.

Add buttermilk and vanilla. Stir til blended. Pour into prepared pan. Scatter chopped berries over top then sprinkle with sugar. You can use sanding sugar to make it really sparkly!
Bake at 400*F for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a very thin small knife in the center. If the knife comes out clean the cake is done.
Take out of the oven when done, cool 10 minutes. Turn out onto a plate to cut and serve.

Housekeeping 1896

Filed under: Churning butter, gardening, laundry, recipes, sewing, soap making — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:50 am
"Good Housekeeping" magazine is one ...

Image via Wikipedia

Posted by Miss KimAugust 16, 2010
From the 19th into the early 20th century the ever increasing number of middle class housewives found that having a “systematic” way with housekeeping details made for more leisure time for the housewife.
“Orderly, systematic work is the great time-saver in housekeeping, as is every other vocation in life.
A written programme, of which the following is suggestive, of the order in which the regular daily work is to be done, kept where it will serve as a constant reminder, will aid greatly in the establishment of habits of method in one’s work :
1. Make the fire ; fill the tea-kettle and reservoirs. Polish the stove, when needed.
2. Dust the kitchen, which should have been left clean and in good order the night before. Wash the hands preparatory to getting breakfast, as it is always essential to have the hands and finger nails clean before handling foods and cooking utensils.
3. Get breakfast.
4. Make any preparations for dinner which may require early attention.
5. Wash dishes, including dish towels; clean sinks, hoppers, and garbage receptacles, if any.
6. Extras. Under this division may be arranged different duties for regular days; as, for example, one day each week may be devoted to extra cleaning of cupboards, reservoirs, ovens, etc.; two other days to washing and cleaning the refrigerator, extra scouring of utensils and faucets, cleaning of lights, woodwork, walls, windows, and cellar, all of which require more or less of the housekeeper’s attention, though not always demanding daily care.
7. Put the kitchen to rights. This should be done after every meal before leaving the kitchen. At the close of the day’s work everything should be left in perfect order.
It is desirable to have the housework so planned that work which must be done regularly each week, as baking, washing, and ironing, shall have its own appointed day arranged as best suits the needs and convenience of the household. There is always a best way of performing even the simplest of household details ; seek out this most advantageous method and save time by employing it.—Mrs. E. E. Kellogg in Good Health.”
~Good Housekeeping Magazine 1896

September 16, 2010

Making Buttermilk

Filed under: Churning butter, farming, making cheese, recipes, Vinegar — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 4:46 pm

How to make buttermilk with easy instructions and some recipes for homemade buttermilk.

Buttermilk is a by-product that you get when learning how to make butter. However, when you examine it carefully, it is nowhere near the thick white buttermilk that you can buy from the local store. This is because this buttermilk has had a culture added to it, and it is much thicker than what is left behind after making butter.

However, once you start making your own buttermilk at home, you will realize that what you have made is nothing like the store-bought product either! Instead you will have a far better product that is rich in taste and far superior to what you can buy.


Take your whole milk out that you have bought from the store, or, if you are lucky enough, your own raw milk, and let it sit on the counter in your kitchen for an hour or two. This will bring the milk to room temperature, before the next stage.


Take 1 cup of the milk and add either 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar,or 2 tablespoons cream of tarter. Stir through well and leave for 15 minutes or so, until the milk starts to curdle.


Either use straightaway, stirring before drinking, or bottle and place in the fridge. Your buttermilk will keep for a week.

17th Century Household Duties

Compared to present-day families, the seventeenth century household served a wider range of functions and had more porous and flexible boundaries. It served a variety of productive, educational, religious, and welfare roles that have subsequently been shed to other institutions. It was, first and foremost, a unit of economic production, whose size and composition varied according to the household’s labor needs (Mintz & Kellogg, 1988). Inside the household, the division of domestic roles was far less specialized or rigid than it would later become. This was especially true for women. The historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has aptly described seventeenth-century mothering as extensive rather than intensive. Households were busy and often crowded places where childrearing responsibilities had to be balanced with other demands on a woman’s time. Mothers were not only responsible for feeding, clothing, supervising, and instructing their own children, but also supervising, disciplining, and training apprentices and servants and assisting in their husband’s economic affairs. An industrious housewife was supposed to be a skilled spinner, sewer, knitter, food processor, brewer, and cook; a productive gardener; a household manufacturer; and a resourceful trader

September 12, 2010

How to Make Butter

Filed under: Churning butter — dmacc502 @ 12:59 pm
Butter making woman

Image via Wikipedia

Since you probably don’t have a churn handy (and if you do, you probably already know how to make butter), this is a recipe for making butter in your blender.

Take a quart of fresh cream (or, if you don’t happen to have a dairy cow, buy a quart of heavy whipping cream from the store) and let it sit at room temperature until it reaches about 55 degrees.

Put it in your blender or mixer, and turn the speed down to the slowest it can go. This is important! You’ll have whipped cream if you go too fast!

Eventually (anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours, depending upon the cream and the temperature of the cream) the butter will ‘break’ and you will hear a sloshing in your mixing bowl. If you look you will see tiny grains (or larger blobs) of what looks like it could possibly butter. The rest of the liquid is called ‘buttermilk‘ (not the cultured kind you buy from the store). Strain it away from the butter, keeping the butter in the bowl. Save the buttermilk for baking or drinking. It just de-fatted milk.

Put a little water in your bowl and mix it again with your mixer or blender. This is ‘washing’ the butter. Drain the water off. Do this several times until the water drains clear (not cloudy).

Now you need to ‘work’ the butter, to get out any remaining buttermilk. A wooden bowl which has been soaked in cold water is best. That’s because the butter won’t stick to the sides. When I first started I just used a plate. Use a wooden spoon or butter paddle (that has also been soaked in cold water) and (for lack of a better term at the moment) squish the butter/scape it into a blob… squish the butter/scrape it into a blob… over and over until no more buttermilk squeezes out.

Now you have butter. If you have a buttermold, you can make a fancy block of butter. I usually put mine in a small butter crock. Before I had a butter crock I just wrapped it in Saran Wrap and put it in the fridge.

Submitted by Kim, WA

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