I remember back to when I was 9 and I received the opportunity to attend summer camp held at a historic site called King's Landing . This was a living museum of sorts where tourists walked through a 19th century village complete with families portrayed by yours truly.and from around the world. This was a summer camp that gave participants a chance to live the authentic lifestyle complete with parents and siblings with days filled with chores (shovelling poo and milking cows), class in a one room schoolhouse and activities that were conducted by people of that era. One thing I remember in particular was the chore of making butter. Every couple of days we were responsible for beating on this wooden stick in a barrel until one of two things happened:
A. Our arm fell off or....
B: the cream turned into butter.
Since we were told to switch arms should the former happen the only alternative was for B to hopefully take place before you had to resort to your feet (option C by the way). I swore from that day on there was no way I was ever going to do that much work for such little reward. Fast forward...well let's say a few years and now I can get some sick enjoyment from seeing my child do this tedious task. No just kidding he had fun trying out this long lost art and although it is fun as a treat it will not replace our household consumption of butter.
I saw an article on how easy it really was to convert regular whipping cream into the yellow stuff we smear on our morning toast. Wanting to teach my child where this comes from I thought it would be a great tool to do just that. I simply filled up a 500 ml mason jar with whipping cream and put the toddler to work shaking and dancing with it. Since the average attention span of most toddlers is approx. 5 minutes it is now up to you to finish the manual labour which could take up to 20 minutes.
When you first start shaking it will look like diddly squat is happening and you're doing nothing more than wasting your time...keep going, trust me. After about 10 minutes you will feel the cream starting to harden and there will be little noise as the cream is the consistency of cool whip...keep going. After an additional 10 minutes the sound will turn to a watery sploshy (not a word I know but it is the best description) substance and if you open it there will be a ball of butter in the midst of a watery liquid that is better known as buttermilk . At this point I like to pour the buttermilk into another mason jar and add some more water and shake a couple more minutes to get as much of the liquid out of the butter. Some suggest to take this further and squeeze the butter to get additional liquid out as this improves the flavour. Speaking of which this is where you can add as much salt as you like or leave it au naturel as the pilgrims did it.
I even found some great recipes that call for buttermilk. Normally you add vinegar or lemon juice to duplicate this ingredient but with the real stuff the results are outstanding.
I now exclusively use butter to spread on the kids toast as opposed to margarine or other type of butter spreads. The one downfall to this is the fact that the butter is hard and normally requires warming to spread on toast or bread. To remedy this we place a small amount in microwavable custard cup and warm for 10 seconds or lately I have been sitting the ramekins on the metal bar of the toaster which enables the butter to melt while the toast is cooking.
So now you've seen how easy it is to make authentic butter from cream and you can easily shake this while talking on the phone or watching reruns of CSI on Spike TV.
For more great kitchen tips visit Tammy's recipes