What is Cultured Butter? (And How to Make it at Home)

Many folks these days are catching on to the ease and joy of making butter at home. What better time to learn a new dairy skill than June Dairy Month! Who knew that it could be created using only one ingredient and the tools available in most kitchens! Cream that is whipped or churned until the fat solids separate from the buttermilk is washed, salted and ready to enjoy.

How can we up our butter making game by adding another layer of flavor and nutrition to our homemade butter? Turn it into cultured butter using one extra but easy-peasy step. This will be a new favorite way to bring that delicious homemade creaminess to your favorite breads, veggies and more. The process is not as difficult as it might sound.

Either raw cream or store-bought pasteurized cream may be used. As a matter of fact, some of the healthy enzymes which are destroyed during the pasteurization process are actually returned to the cream when we take one extra step to make cultured butter. Better health, here we come!

How to Make Cultured Cream Using Raw or Pasteurized Cream

If using raw cream, allow it to set out of the refrigerator. I like to use a stainless or glass bowl and leave lid loosely attached. After two days, maybe even three, the cream will begin to sour or “ferment”. It may slightly bubble, depending on room temperature. In some cases, this has taken a few days in my kitchen. This is all it takes to turn fresh, raw cream into cultured cream for butter making. It’s that simple. Proceed with butter making when the cream has soured. It doesn’t hurt at all to take a taste to see if the cream has a bit of a bite to it. (You’ve made old-time sour cream.) When it smells or tastes a bit tangy, it is ready to turn into butter. It should not mold. If, for some reason, the cream develops mold, toss it out.

Naturally soured cream
Naturally soured cream

If using store-bought or pasteurized cream, simply use a ratio of 3 tablespoon of good-quality yogurt, kefir or store-bought buttermilk to 1-quart cream. Stir well and cover loosely. Allow the mixture to set on the kitchen countertop, away from refrigeration, for 1 to 2 days. Don’t be fearful to leave this pasteurized cream on the countertop; this is the only way it will produce cultured cream for butter making. Proceed with butter making when cream has soured.

using yogurt to culture pasteurized cream
Using Yogurt to Culture Pasteurized Cream

Storing Butter

Store butter in the refrigerator for long periods of time or the freezer for months. I like to keep our butter easily accessible for daily use on the kitchen countertop using this locally made butter dish. Our ancestors kept butter on the countertop as a regular habit and our local Amish neighbors do the same today. The length of time that butter may be kept in a room temperature butter keeper will vary depending on humidity and temperature. We keep butter on the counter for weeks during the wintertime and for days in the summer.

Sweet or Sour?

Have you ever noticed an old-time recipe that calls for “sweet” milk and wondered what that means? This refers to fresh milk as we know it. It could be from the store, or fresh, raw cow’s milk. Our ancestral cooks differentiated between sweet and sour in recipes.

“Sour” milk would have been raw milk that had been allowed to set away from the icebox until it soured. This is a naturally occurring process due to the live enzymes in the raw milk. Soured raw milk had many uses then and still does.  However, this soured milk is not the same as pasteurized store-bought milk that has “gone bad.”sweet, sour, or bad milk

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Mitch Mills
Mitch Mills
9 months ago

What a GREAT article ! I’ll be sharing with family and friends.

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