I sure would like for everyone to think I’m some kind of kitchen wizard; that all I have to do is think about a new recipe or idea and the end result is magic.
That’d be nice.
But it’s absolutely not true!
I almost didn’t write this post, because, well, it’s a little embarrassing. But then I decided to go ahead and share this story because I’m all about helping others – and if anyone can learn from my near disaster, then it’s worth embarrassing myself!
(Besides, I’ve already told you about my gluten-free bread disaster!)
I’ve told y’all how we recently had to change goat milk suppliers, and that I found 2 wonderful ladies to buy goat milk from. One of them has Nigerian Dwarf goats, a breed known for high butterfat.
So I’ve been diligently scooping the cream off the milk every night to save for butter making.
Some folks have a device called a separator for this purpose; I don’t have one and haven’t been able to find one in my quick glances online. With the Nigerian Dwarf milk, though, I can get enough cream easily with the slow, old-fashioned method.
All you do is put the milk in the fridge with no lid. Try not to store anything especially stinky, like onions or garlic, near your milk, or it may take on that flavor.
The cream rises to the top and can easily be scooped off and poured in a jar for storage.
Once I had a full pint of cream, I was ready to make butter.
Now, I read about how to do this. I asked people for tips. I didn’t go into this blind and completely ignorant.
Everything I read said to let the cream warm to between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit before making butter.
Everything I read said to use a food processor instead of a mixer because it was just too messy.
Everything I read said this was easy.
So I felt confident.
I was also sick, and VERY tired of cleaning dishes.
The day I obtained a full pint of cream, I ran my dishwasher THREE TIMES.
THREE TIMES, Y’ALL.
And that was before dinner! All this food preservation stuff creates extra kitchen cleaning, and, being sick and a little tired, I had a moment of disgust and rebellion.
I flat refused to dirty one more dish that night.
Yes, I became a petulant teenager again.
But I wasn’t being completely ridiculous: you CAN make butter just by shaking the cream in a jar.
I’ve done it! Years ago, when I was about ten or eleven, my mom got some raw cow milk on a trip to visit my grandma and decided to show me how to make butter.
We shook that jar all through dinner, and then mom worked some “magic” and voila! Butter!
I didn’t remember it being that hard, and my cream was already in a jar with a lid, and by golly, I was NOT going to make any more mess in my kitchen that day.
Throughout dinner, I shook that jar with my free hand. Darrel kindly took over for me for a while after he finished eating, and about 30 minutes after the shaking started, I had this:
Here’s a view with the lid off, looking down into the jar:
Now, in my reading I had learned that butter goes through stages. First it’s liquid cream, then it’s basic soft whipped cream, then it’s whipped cream with stiff peaks, then it suddenly starts to coagulate and form butter globules.
When it forms butter globules, you pour off the buttermilk (supposedly I would get about a cup of buttermilk from a pint of cream), and start “cleaning” your butter with water.
Looking at what I had in the jar after 30 minutes of shaking, I estimated this was a nice, firm whipped cream stage, just before stiff peaks would form.
Yay! It was working!
15 minutes later, though, the kids were out of the bath and it was time to put the munchkins to bed.
I figured it wouldn’t ruin the butter to stick it in the fridge while I nursed Zac to sleep, so I did.
Then Zac fought going to sleep for so long, *I* fell asleep.
Darrel woke me up an hour and a half later.
I raced to my jar of butter and…I had nicely refrigerated, firm whipped cream. Drat.
So I set the jar on the counter to warm up a little, and when it was a tad warmer, started shaking again.
I shook. And I shook. And I shook.
And shaking whipped cream in a jar is a lot harder than shaking liquid cream in a jar.
As I continued to shake, I searched my memory for the time mom and I made butter in a jar at Grandmas house. I really didn’t remember it being this difficult.
Then I remembered: when the jar had gotten harder to shake, thick with whipped cream, my ten year old self wimped out and my Mom finished shaking the jar.
Oh. Yeah. Right.
Guess what, y’all? I’m the mom now!
And mama was sick, tired, and watching the clock turn later and later by the minute.
Screw this! Into the food processor it went!
Everyone says THIS is the way to make butter. Surely, in just a few minutes, this whole ordeal will be over…right?
A few minutes later, I had warm, liquid…something. Cream? Whipped cream? Melted butter?
I don’t know exactly. I just knew that this was NOT right.
I stuck my finger in to test it and – man! That’s not 50-55 degrees! That’s HOT!
I took the whole food processor bowl and stuck it in the fridge while I quickly looked for answers online.
I never found a clear answer; it’s hard for Google to diagnose kitchen accidents, sometimes. All I saw that might help was someone suggesting that what I may have in front of me was a heavy cream that could be used in place of milk in baking and sauces for extra flavor.
After it had cooled down some in the fridge, I noticed that it had separated a bit. The top was solid and firm, and underneath was what looked like buttermilk. I poured it off, but didn’t get a full cup. I only got about a third of a cup. Hmm.
I gave the remaining cream another quick whiz in the food processor.
STILL no globules forming! Still just a thick cream – and getting warmer by the second.
So I scooped it all into a glass bowl and got out a whisk.
Why not get out the mixer? Because I was sick, tired, and not thinking straight.
The mixer is heavy, and hauling it in from the utility closet seemed like a lot of work.
I didn’t stop to consider the work involved in, you know, whisking the stuff.
(shaking my head at myself)
I whisked. I whipped. I worked that stuff from soft peaks…
To stiff peaks…
And never saw anything resembling a butter globule.
When my arms were about to fall out and I was about to fall over, Zac woke up for another nursing session.
Again, I said “screw it” and shoved the whole thing – whisk and all – into the fridge. I figured I’d deal with it the next day…after all, I told myself, it’s probably ruined anyway.
The next morning, I opened up the fridge and saw this:
Kinda looks like butter, no?
But surely it couldn’t actually be butter, right?
I made Zac a quinoa breakfast bake for breakfast, and scooped some of my…buttery stuff…on top.
Maybe I had accidentally made butter?
Ugh. I didn’t know. I stuck it back in the fridge to await judging by my Mom.
Mom came over, tasted it, felt it, and said “it looks like butter to me!”
Well, fine, then. I don’t know how it happened, and I can never duplicate what I just did, but by golly, I guess I have butter.
I let the bowl sit on the counter just long enough to soften so I could put it in a makeshift mold.
As I pressed the white stuff into the bowl, I noticed what looked like more buttermilk oozing out of it!
So I turned it all back into the bigger bowl and started working it over with a spoon.
Mom came by and asked what I was doing, and when I told her about the buttermilk oozing and trying to clean it, she remarked that as a child, they’d always done this part by hand. She said it was easier.
So I washed my hands again, poured some more water on the mess and started squishing it around.
It took almost 10 times of cleaning the butter with water before the water ran clear, but by the end, I could tell: THIS was butter!
I pressed it into the mold and set it in the fridge to set. (I don’t have a real butter mold, and probably should have lined the glass bowl I was using with plastic wrap, but, oh well.)
To loosen it from the mold, I had to run warm water over the outside of the dish. So when I turned it over into a plate it wasn’t nice and smooth.
Didn’t matter to me!
However it happened, despite doing everything wrong, I’d still managed to make butter.
Oh, happy day!
Isn’t it beautiful?
I’ve learned my lesson: I chopped half this 5 oz block of butter off and wrapped it up to freeze. Now, when we’re out of goat milk later in the year, we’ll still have goat milk butter in the freezer to use.
So there you have it: how to do everything wrong and still – somehow – manage to make homemade goat milk butter.
The good news is that I’m not a total idiot: yesterday I had another pint of cream ready to make into butter…and I did it RIGHT this time! So tomorrow I can share with you “How to PROPERLY make homemade goat milk butter“.
In the meantime, any butter making gurus out there that can tell me what went wrong – and what went right? Because seriously, I have no clue how I screwed this up – or how I salvaged it!
The ultimate lesson from this adventure is this: don’t let any kitchen failures scare you off. Do your best to learn from them, and keep on trying. Eventually, you will figure out how to do what you’re trying to do.
And sometimes, even when you do it all wrong, it still comes out right.
By the way, for anyone keeping track, my petulant desire to not dirty any more dishes resulted in a whisk, a bowl, and an entire food processor being dirty.
Yeah. That didn’t work.
What’s your funniest “it all went wrong” kitchen story? Please share!