How To Make Cultured Butter (and Buttermilk)


Why on earth would you make your own butter? The stuff at the grocery store is already made from nothing but cream, isn’t it? Okay, and salt if you buy salted butter. But that’s pretty good isn’t it?

Because this butter is better. You read that right: better than ordinary butter. Hard to believe, but there you have it.

Okay, it’s not so much better that I won’t use store-bought butter in my cooking and baking. But when I want something to spread on crusty French bread, or on top of warm coffee cake fresh from the oven, I want the best butter you can get. And as of today, this is it.


1 quart heavy cream
1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt


Like all my favorite recipes, this one doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. And it’s not terribly sensitive to amounts, so next time I won’t even bother dirtying a measuring cup. I’m lazy that way.

What does make a difference is getting good ingredients. Make sure the cream doesn’t have stabilizers or additives. The ingredients should look like this.

Same for the yogurt. My grocery store has a yogurt section that’s about 40 feet long, floor to ceiling. And only one plain, whole milk selection in the lot.

Pour the cream into a spotlessly clean glass or earthenware bowl. Plastic can hide bacteria in any surface imperfections. After you pour, open the box up and see if you’ve got a bunch of milk solids left, and scrape it all into the bowl.

Add a third of a cup of yogurt.

Whisk gently, by hand — you don’t want to start turning this into whipped cream — then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Set the bowl somewhere slightly warm overnight. Somewhere in the mid-70s Fahrenheit is perfect. It needs to be warm enough for the live cultures in the yogurt to grow in the cream. So this is perfect to make in the summer when the house is a bit warmer. It will work if it’s colder, but will take longer.

The next day, give the bowl a light shake. When the cream looks like it has thickened a little bit, it’s ready.

Beat the cream with your mixer until it starts to form peaks, then switch your mixer to its “Low” setting.

If your mixer only has one speed, like mine does, you might need to go a little old school.

Yup, that was in my pantry, right next to the rolling pins, cast-iron pans and potato masher that are all probably older than me. When my wife’s great aunt passed away, while the other relatives asked for the quilts and lace we went to the kitchen. Nobody else even wanted anything. It would have ended up in a garage sale. Unbelievable.

The reason for the low speed is that just after the cream starts to form stiff peaks it will “break.” The milk solids will suddenly separate from the liquid all at once. If you’re still on high speed you’ll spray buttermilk everywhere.

Don’t tell yourself, “Ahh, but I’m expecting it, so I’ll be able to not spray buttermilk everywhere.” You will be wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Did I mention “wrong?” Look back at that picture above. See the spray around the edge of the bowl? Do you think that spray magically stopped right at the top of the bowl? No, it didn’t. (Take a guess whether I switched mixers before or after the cream broke.)

While holding back the butter, pour out the buttermilk.

Catch yourself about to be stupid again and get a better strainer and a larger bowl.

Ahh, much better. If you’re ready to use it all right away, you’re done.

But probably you’ll want to be able to keep it for a while in the fridge. Press the butter with a spatula or the back of a spoon to squeeze all the buttermilk out. Get as much as you can; you should end up with two cups or more of buttermilk. (Can you say “buttermilk ranch dressing?” I can.)

Now one last step. Rinse the butter with cold water. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. I know it sounds strange, but it works. And you have to do it or the buttermilk will turn rancid and ruin the butter. Pour off all the water and transfer the butter to a serving dish.

And that’s it.

If you’re the kind of person who slows down to check out accidents on the freeway, you won’t want to miss the next couple of days. I tried a new recipe and a new gadget and it was … disappointing. It was actually pretty close to what I wanted, but I spent way too much time for the payoff.

If you want to offer some suggestions, or just point and laugh, subscribe using the form to the right to get everything as soon as it’s published.

Cultured Butter (and Buttermilk)

Cultured Butter (and Buttermilk)


  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt


Pour the cream into a spotlessly clean glass or earthenware bowl. Add the yogurt. Whisk gently, by hand -- you don't want to start turning this into whipped cream -- then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Set the bowl somewhere slightly warm overnight. Somewhere in the mid-70s Fahrenheit is perfect. The next day, give the bowl a light shake. When the cream looks like it has thickened a little bit, it's ready.

Beat on low speed until the cream "breaks" and the liquid separates from the milk solids. (It happens abruptly.)

Strain the buttermilk out, and rinse the butter with cold water until it runs clear.


  1. Kristin says:

    Now I bet this is when you wish you had a butter paddle. Works good for disciplining the children, too.

    I have never seen butter made with yogurt. I assume the taste is a little different?

    You know one way to keep from spraying buttermilk from the bowl? Put plastic wrap loosely over the bowl and just move the beater around under it.

    And you’ve now given us permission to point and laugh? Oh goody. Because I would NEVER have done it otherwise. Ahem.

    • Silfren says:

      They are NOT making butter with yogurt. They use the yogurt simply to culture the cream. It is the cream which makes butter.

  2. So how do you work the butter paddle? Is it just for shaping the butter after it’s made?

    As for the taste, it’s sweeter than “regular” butter. That could be the difference between salted and “sweet cream” butter, which I have never used except in recipes that called for it. I wouldn’t use this on popcorn, because I like the saltiness. But on pastries and breads it’s amazing.

    And yes, you’ll have permission to point and laugh. I’m so glad you’ve been holding back.

    • thanks for the recipe!! but, what do we do when our yogurt isn’t turning into butter? after it ‘peaks’ its not seeming to ‘break’, it was just staying whipped, then eventually turned into liquid… please help! thanks

      • Hmm, good question. According to this story it can take longer when using an electric mixer than just putting it in a jar and shaking it.

      • Make sure your cream is cold. It’s so quick to turn into butter if you make sure it’s fridge temperature. If you’ve ever seen or heard of people using that old butter churn and it taking FOREVER it’s because they didn’t have cold cream.

    • karyn daniels says:

      I use a Daisy butter churn, and a butter paddle with a wood bowl. I can’t wait to try the yogurt recipe.

      • Umm, I have made about 70 lbs of butter from raw cream, right fresh from the cow, and when I use cold butter it is almost impossible to get to the butter stage. When it is at the 55-60F, or 13-16C, it will only take about 15 minutes to churn 5 litres or about just over a gallon. Thank you for this wonderful website. It is very informative.

      • I meant cold cream. sorry folks.

  3. recipes2share says:

    Well done! I tried this last summer & it didn’t work for me… later I made some fab creme fraiche though!

  4. Kristin says:

    The butter paddle is the actual tool made for pressing on the butter to get the liquid out, what you substituted the spatula for. Ours, which is at least 100 years old, looks like an elongated, flattened spoon. Sort of. It’s made of wood and is very sturdy. I wonder if you can even buy them nowadays? Maybe, but I bet the new ones wouldn’t be as cool as ours.

    I always, always, always use salted butter. Even in recipes calling for unsalted. I know, I’m such a rebel.

  5. r2s, that’s why I’d rather understand what I’m doing than just follow a recipe. If it doesn’t work out, I like to know what to do with what I’ve got left.

    Kristin, I went looking and found this. So … what’s the difference between “paddle” and “butter paddle,” exactly?

  6. MeadowLark says:

    Of course, Lehman’s always comes to the rescue:

    But it makes me sad that years ago my parents moved from the ranch and had a lot of our family stuff in a storage unit that was broken into. Our butter paddles, presses, even that great square jar-thingie with the paddle-things in it – all stolen. :(

    I’ll give this a try this weekend. Oh wait, I’m going to learn to can this weekend. Maybe one project at a time 😉

  7. Kristin says:

    Ours is more rounded than that one in the picture. And thicker, I think. And just generally all around cooler. I wouldn’t sell ours for ten bucks, that’s for sure.

  8. One at a time? Oh come on, sleep is for sissies. :-)

  9. I’m pretty sure cooling the butter a bit before I start pressing will do more for it than getting a cooler butter paddle. And that’s what I’ll keep telling myself right up to the moment I find one at a garage sale or thrift store. Then it will become essential.

  10. Humincat says:

    I’m so impressed you MADE butter! I have to admit, I’m a bit nauseated, but I’m a big wuss when it comes to dairy products with all the fat and curdling and bacteria growth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it, but just don’t make me think about it…..kind of like a hot dog…..mmmm, hot dogs….
    Oh, yeah, and I’m super impressed with the careful ingredients….makes me almost want to try it…..

  11. My hangup is eyes. I don’t like to eat anything that’s staring back at me. [shudder]

  12. I’m reminded of either a Laura Esquivel or Isabel Allende story, seems like it was Like Water For Chocolate, where Grandma puts the cream in a bag and attaches it to the family mule when someone is riding into town so the butter will be properly churned and done by the time they get back. Your way sounds faster and less likely to ruin in the heat.

    I had no idea that yogurt was used in making butter, I make yogurt in our dehydrator sometimes. Hmmm, I have no interest in milking one of our cows but I’m considering bringing a goat home to keep the lawn mowed for us and so we’ll have fresh goat’s milk. Can you think of any reason I can’t make butter and yogurt with goat milk? I love butter. Passionately.

  13. Genie, the yogurt is just for cultured butter. Normally it’s just cream. And yes, goat’s milk should work. I’ve never made yogurt, so I don’t know what your process is like. For this butter, through, you need yogurt with live culture.

  14. Oh, yes, the yogurt I make is a live culture. And so rich and good!

    Yes, you’re right, “best deals,” not so much “best stuff!” Although I do love the brand new Ronco rotisserie cooker I bought at a Goodwill last year. It’s AWESOME! More so because of the price! Bit of a counter hog but makes killer chicken and roast.

    Does your yogurt butter freeze well?

  15. I need a rotisserie. I’ve been looking at getting the attachment for my grill. I desperately want to do a standing rib roast that way.

    [pause for eyes-closed fantasy with drooling and lip-smacking sounds …]

    I’m sorry, where was I? Oh right, freezing butter. I haven’t tried with this, but I can’t see any reason it shouldn’t work. The one thing I’d worry about is wrapping it air-tight so it doesn’t crystallize and get freezer burn.

  16. I’d love to have the rotisserie attachment for a grill, but first I need a new grill. Wore my last one out.

    Much as I want to make butter from one of our own cows or goats, I dread having to milk one of the beasts. Perhaps I should just try it with store bought ingredients and be happy! Your butter would have been so good on my rather not great biscuits this morning!

  17. bakingblonde says:

    I made butter in a HomeEc class in highschool. Ha ha. I may need to try it again!

  18. chiff0nade says:

    I have never made my own butter. But of course, I don’t eat butter anyway because I think too much of my beautiful hour-glass figure.

    But my BF Big Bear eats butter on everything (that’s why he weights 450 pounds) so I may give your method a try.

  19. Genie, you have cows and goats but don’t milk them? What do you do with them? I thought they had to be milked regularly or it was bad for them.

    Bakingblonde, how did you do it in high school, cultured or plain? Power tools or grunt work?

  20. Their babies milk them. We raise them for the sale barn. The cows are a new addition. We have a couple of really good milk goats and I should bring home one of them but when a baby gets abandoned, we usually put it on one of the good milk producers. Hand feeding baby goats is only cute at first–then it’s a real pain.

    We don’t live on the farm so I can’t just walk out, snag an animal, and milk it. I’d have to bring it home. With the price of milk getting so high, it may be time to tell hubby to bring one home. I can’t believe that the price for a gallon of gas is very close to exceeding the price of a gallon of milk!

  21. bakingblonde says:

    Highschool days were a few years back, ha ha. I know we did NOT use power tools and had to churn it by hand. As for the ingredients, all I remember is cream and salt. Hmmm, I may try digging up my old HomeEc cookbook and see if it is in there.

  22. Bakingblonde, if you find that recipe, tell me how much salt there was. I want to give this another shot, but do salted butter this time.

  23. I hope I can find this site again, because I really want to hear your opinions. I have been trying to figure out how to make real butter and buttermilk, like my mother did when I was a kid. All the directions I can find are like yours, in that they direct you to start with cream. I know my mother never did that, and when I do it, what passes for “buttermilk” is just the thin, sparse liquid that comes out of the cream when the butter forms.

    Thinking I might just have faulty memory, I interviewed several oldtimers (85-95 years old)earlier this summer. They all confirmed that the cream was never skimmed from the milk.

    Milk was left to curdle in a churn, covered with a cloth to keep out the flies. When the milk had “clabbered”, or congealed into a mass, they would begin to churn it. The process took a very long time, but it resulted in delicious, yellow butter, which they then carefully skimmed off, washed, salted, and formed with a butter paddle. The rest was real buttermilk, thick, sour and delicious, with tiny flakes of yellow butter throughout.

    That is what I am seeking–the buttermilk. I don’t have a churn, and I’d rather speed up the process with a blender or food processor, both of which I have been able to use successfully to make butter, starting just with cream. But, as I stated earlier, the “buttermilk” resulting from that process is pretty useless stuff.

    I have tried various methods of churning the soured whole milk, but none have been successful. Oh, I should probably mention that I am using whole raw milk–unpasteurized, unhomogenized, just as my mother and my elderly informants did so many years ago.

    Any ideas?


  24. Dave, I do have a suggestion.

    I’ve seen lots of recipes for souring milk into buttermilk using lemon or vinegar. I’m assuming that’s what you’ve already tried.

    The version I did here, with the yogurt, is based on the live bacteria culturing the cream. I suspect that’s the process that was going on when the old-timers talked about leaving the milk in the churn under the cheesecloth.

    What I’d recommend — and I can’t do this myself, as I don’t have a source for raw milk (dammit) — is add a small amount of plain yogurt to a gallon or so of raw milk and let it sit out until it is “ready”. How do you know when it’s ready? I guess go back and ask what “clabbered” looked like.

    Then I’d put it in the mixer with the dough hook on instead of the whisk, so the action would be more like a hand churn. Let that run on low speed until it starts to separate.

    Keep in mind, raw milk used to have a much higher fat content than raw milk today. Unless your cows are pasture-fed, and older breeds, you won’t be starting from the same ingredients as your grand-folks.

  25. Drew,

    Thanks. No, I didn’t use vinegar or lemon juice. I have tried just letting the milk sour at room temperature, like the oldtimers did, and I have tried yoghurt. Natural souring yielded a better-tasting butter.

    My milk is from Jerseys, rather than Holsteins, so the butterfat content is at least as high as that of the milk used by my informants.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a good mixer, so I can’t try your suggestion. I have a food processor, a VitaMix blender, and manual methods.

    I guess I could give up on the buttermilk, and use the skimmed milk to make yoghurt, but, that seems a shame.


    • Pauline Tow says:

      Dave, My mother used to pour the cream off of the milk into a churn, just the cream. She would pour it off of several gallons of milk that she had saved for a churning. She then would tie a cloth around the churn and put in the warmest part of the house to clabber. She would look at it every day. She would tilt the churn sidways to see if the cream had thickened. When she could lean it over and the cream was thickened she said it is ready to churn. The cream would be sour like sour cream. I was the one who churned the milk. It took about an hour I guess to make butter. I would gather the butter and take it out of the churn, wash it and put into molds with designs on it, and then I would pour the buttermilk into gallon jars and put it into the refridgerator. The best buttermilk you have ever drank. We had a home made dasher we called it, that we churned with. You can still get one of those made and also get a churn. Good luck. I hope you can make you some buttermilk soon.

  26. Sounds like you’ve already worked on this more than I can. Good luck with it.

  27. My sister has a Jersey cow and gives me milk. We’re done with store milk now! Hurray! Anyway, Jersey cows make tons of cream. And yes, butter freezes perfectly well. But you don’t want to freeze a big blob, cuz then how will you know how much ya got? Just put a sandwich baggie as a liner in a cup measure and squish in the butter. Then yank it out, close the top and freeze. Now you have something recognizable and also neater to store.
    BTW it’s totally easier to make butter in the food processor. The buttermilk can be used when you make bread (instead of water, with the yeast, etc.) Then you’ll get a better array of amino acids for your protein in the bread. Go for it Drew!

  28. Ooh, putting the Ziploc inside the measuring cup, great tip. And using the buttermilk in my sourdough starter sounds good. I have to get a food processor.

  29. Interesting reading and I love all you folks with goats and cows. I’m a city gal though, and I don’t even care for buttermilk.

    What I want to do is take cream and make butter with my granddaughter, also a city gal, aged 7. My class did this is 4th grade. We put cream in a bottle and passed it around the room and everyone shook it for a while and passed it on till we got butter and skim milk. That’s what I want to do but we had 30 children in the class to share the shaking. How long does it actually take, should my granddaughter and I and maybe my daughter try this. Any steps I’ve forgotten. We’d eat it in the following week.

    See me at

  30. Letitia, I’ve actually got that one in the book. I did that with my girls last year for Thanksgiving. Kept them occupied for several minutes before dinner as we were trying to get everything plated.

    No, there’s no extra steps you forgot. The only thing I’d do differently is use a small container with a tight-fitting lid. I’m trying to figure out how I’d get butter out of a bottle and I’m drawing a blank.

    If you’re not going to eat it right away, you should wash the butter, too. Same way as in the directions up above. Otherwise the milk can go rancid.

  31. I have tried making cultured butter a couple times with standard ultrapastuerized excessive homogenized cream bought at Walmart. I added yogurt let it sit overnight in a covered pyre bowl and the next day started shaking it. I probably shook the bowl for 1 -2 minutes and ta da butter. Easy. no mixer, beater, food processor. Is that they way it was supposed to be. Did I make butter or some kind of almost butter. I stuck it in the frig. It got hard although it has a slightly whipped butter texture which was nice because it made it a bit easier to spread.

  32. Donna, I’ve put a cup of cream in a covered container before — no yogurt, no overnight wait — and had the kids shake it until it separates. Yes, that’s real butter. The more you shake or beat it the more you’ll separate the solids from the liquid and get a firmer texture. But like you said, it can be more spreadable if you leave more of the liquid in.

  33. country girl says:

    I thought when I read the part “how to make homeade buttermilk ” we were talking the real deal you know go milk the cow strain the cream and make butter from cream off the milk that you milked from your cow. I made real homeade butter by straining the cream off the top of the milk and put it in a smoothie maker. Best butter ever. Now I just need to know how to get REAL buttermilk.

  34. Well, until I find a local source for raw milk — and the USDA is trying as hard as they can to make sure that never happens — this is as close as I’m going to get.

  35. Well, until I find a local source for raw milk — and the USDA is trying as hard as they can to make sure that never happens — this is as close as I’m going to get.

    I’m so close to getting a milk goat and keeping it in the yard just so I can have fresh milk, butter, and cheese. The neighbors would hate me.

  36. Geeze, I just want a couple of chickens. A goat would be insane.

  37. Ha! Both are pretty common sights in people’s yards around here! We’ve raised a lot of goat babies in the yard. Just never kept one after it could be weaned from the bottle.

  38. I’s so glad to see some 2009 comments so I don’t look like a total dork for just now finding this brilliant post.

    Thanks very much for breaking it down and making it look so doable.

    Now I must try to make this. With or without the proper gadgets. Although I do love new kitchen toys!

  39. lorrwill, I like the new kitchen toys. But I love the insanely old ones. That stuff is probably going to outlast me.

  40. This is basically Serbian kajmak :)
    Good stuff.

  41. Wow, I never knew there were so many names for spoiled milk.

  42. I was happy to find this page. Sounds easy though I will have to search to find unadulterated milk. Had a guy today tell me that his ma used to make sour cream butter and my husband went internet searching. Thanks to all who commented, I smiled and read ALL the posts. J.

  43. Janeen, wow. If saw them all at once for the first time I don’t know that I would read all the comments.

  44. Hi all,

    Forgot a few details to include in my previous post.

    Maybe one of you butter makers can help me:

    I tried making cultured butter the other day, using organic heavy whipping cream heated to 86 F and then adding a few tablespoons of organic cultured buttermilk. I let that sit out for about 12 hours and it had a great sweet tangy aroma and viscous texture, but when I started to agitate (by shaking it in a jar) I was never able to get the butter to come, even after 25-30 minutes of shaking. I tried cooling the mixture by putting the glass jar in ice water–but still nothing-it just remained a creamy yogurt like texture. I even tried putting it into a Cuisinart and letting a machine work at it for a while, but still nothing.

    I was attempting to do a taste comparison with just leaving the same organic heavy whipping cream sit out for 12 hours, a process that made butter easily with just a couple minutes of jar shaking.

    Any thoughts about what might have gone wrong?



  45. Adam, so the only difference was heating it first this time?

    When you put it in the food processor, did it get thicker? Thinner? Any change?

    I suspect you’d have better luck using a hand-held mixer, because it beats the liquid, while the food processor — because the blade is submerged — just stirs it.

    That’s just a guess, but I just recently did whipped cream, and the hand-held mixer with the counter-rotating beaters worked, while the stand mixer with the single orbital whisk didn’t.

    When I’ve done butter it was with the hand mixer, or shaking it in a container.

    When you did the container, how much room was there? When I did that method the container was at least three times larger than the amount of cream I put in it.

  46. Hey Drew,

    Thanks for the reply!

    I couldn’t discern any change in the texture when it was in the food processor.

    There were two differences between the batches: 1) the addition of heat and 2) the addition of the cultured buttermilk.

    I wonder if my parents still have their old hand-held mixer…I’ll have to find out and give it a shot if they do.

    The container I used was twice as large as the volume of the cream, a ratio that seemed to work fine for the non-heated and non-buttermilk cultured cream. But, this cultured cream was thicker, maybe it needed more room to slosh about.

    On my next attempt, I’ll try either using the hand held mixer, or increasing the container volume to cream ratio.

    Another thought I had was that I had let the buttermilk-cultured cream go to far…that it had turned into something (creme fraiche?) that could not be transmuted into butter.

    Thanks for your thoughts!


  47. Anonymous says:

    I tried this and it works. I’ve never had any butter like this before. It’s great!

  48. Michelle says:

    Nice blog! I make butter all the time and have never tried cultured butter. Thanks for the inspiration!

  49. Oh my gosh, Drew, thank you! I made a batch of this with tangy Greek-style yogurt and it is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. I have to bake a whole lot of bread now to use up all this fantastic butter. This is genius.

  50. A., an excuse to bake more bread. I'll bet you're heartbroken.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the warning about when the butter "breaks." Now I know how to explain the mess I made in the kitchen using the proper terminology! The butter is still awesome. I got fresh milk direct from a dairy farm in PA and skimmed the cream. Also, after chilling the buttermilk, it looked and smelled so good I just drank it!

  52. You could pour it all into a glass butter churn and paddle as slow as you want and when the buttermilk appears the whole mess is contained.

    Ann :o)

  53. A glass churn? Well how about that. I wonder if anyone is making new ones.

    Oh hold on … one of the listings calls them "Decorative Home Decor". Come on, I want to use this thing.

    Okay, here are some new ones, although the prices seem a bit steep for a pretty simple product.

  54. Storybook Woods says:

    Oh you are brilliant. I will have to share this on my blog. Thank you. Clarice

  55. Clarice, I'm blushing. I believe the polite thing would be for me to agree with you. :-)

  56. Thank you for a brilliant post. I made butter last night that looked just like yours, and it was so reassuring to find your website today and see that I'd done it right! :)

    You certainly can buy new hand cranked glass butter churns. I've been looking around the US sites and they all seem to be in the region of $100. You could try eBay for a secondhand one and look for one that's described as secondhand (rather than "vintage" or antique as that commands a higher price these days). I saw a lid/paddle mechanism for $10 and a replacement jar is $14-20.

    Alternatively you could try somewhere like
    Lehman's for one (plus some other very interesting bits and bobs for the homebod.)

    • Rebecca
      Could you please tell me where to find the replacement jars for old lid/paddle butter churns?
      Ruth – 715-479-6094

  57. Rebecca, thanks for the suggestions, but I've already looked at both of those. No one seems to be making a hand-cranked any more, and all the old ones are being sold as decorative collectibles.

  58. That's strange – Lehman's still has them listed on their website.

    I know for a fact you can get them in the UK new, so if you really want a hand cranked churn then try good old blighty :)

    BTW – I love your post about bacon camp – it made my day!

  59. Nickname unavailable says:

    I've accidentally made butter by over-whipping heavy cream that was intended to be whipped cream. This was made using a standard KitchenAid stand mixer with the whip. I also use the trick of putting a piece of plastic wrap over the top so I can whip on high without cream going everywhere. We never ate the butter, though, as it had sugar and vanilla and I didn't really think it was butter, since it was so watery. Huh. What a waster I am, could have had sweet butter biscuits or something.

    Anyway, the whole buttermilk + heavy cream, cover and leave overnight in a warm place thing, that's creme fraiche. At least, that's how I make creme fraiche, which is basically a milder sour cream. So you can make that into butter, too? Interesting. I think I'll try both ways, but what's the taste difference in store bought unsalted butter and this cultured butter? Is it very tangy? I don't know that I'd like that.

    Finally, as far as salted and unsalted butters go…it's always recommended with cooking to use unsalted butter (especially baking) because you can't control how much salt is in the butter. You generally will want to add salt, yes even to sweet things it brings out the sweetness, but you want to control it. If your butter is salted and you add salt, you may end up with too salty food. I use unsalted for cooking, salted for bread on the table. Although unsalted for the table isn't bad.

  60. Nick, that sweetened butter could have been a wonderful accident. Too bad you didn't think to taste it.

    Although, considering what it looks like when cream first "breaks" into butter, I can understand why you wouldn't think to try.

  61. Regarding a “glass butter churn”:

    I’m annoyed that I can’t find it online, but back in the Nineties there was this popular item that was a large, usually squat jar with a plastic lid. The lid had a bubble-like button or a raised pump on top, and pumping it by hand would cause a mixing element inside the jar to turn back and forth (if like a whisk) or move up and down (if like a potato masher). They were popular for beating eggs, but my fourth grade teacher and the docents at a local old-time farm-slash-museum used them to make butter and ice cream. Man, I want one now. I wish I could remember what they were called. I’ll have to ask my mum.

    Back in fourth grade, we also made butter by putting the cream in a jar and shaking it for like half an hour or more, like so. Fun for the kids, at least.

    What you could do is get a wide jar with a plastic lid and a grid-style potato masher, then cut a hole in the lid and slide the potato masher handle up it, put that in the jar, and voilà! Butter churn. Just pump the potato masher up and down. With a big enough jar or a coffee can, you could even use an egg beater. Gets repetitive, but it amused me as a kid.

  62. Corinn, I’ve had my kids do the shaking thing before. Lots of fun.

  63. Drew, Can a person use Ultra Pasteurized heavy cream to make cultured butter? Can cultured butter be frozen?

  64. All butter can be frozen. And yes, you can probably start with ultra-pasteurized cream, since your starter — whether yogurt, sour cream or a starter pack — will have the cultures to get it going. But if reviews are correct, and ultra-pasteurized has a “burnt” taste, why would you start with that, unless you have no choice? (Yes, I realize that in many grocery stores you’re lucky to get one brand of cream, so you take what you can get.)

    I just ran an article about the difference between pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk. You might want to check there for more details.

    • My only choice is Ultra, sad to say. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I really notice the difference from farm and store. I read that article for “the difference b/t pasteurized and ultra” informative, but I still had the question whether it would work or not. Thanks for the info.
      I really like your articles keep up the good work, I hope more people get the idea of “from scratch” baking and cooking.
      Thanks again.

  65. For those looking for raw milk or cream, check this site. It is an extensive list by state of dairies and co-ops that sell raw dairy products to the public.

  66. Thanks for the list! Wooster is a bit far for a weekly trip, but definitely goes on the agenda for this summer’s road trip.

  67. Thanks for the answer to my question. My husband and I made butter today out of fresh cream skimmed off of raw milk. I had made the cream into yogurt last night, and today we churned it. It turned out awesome. But I wanted to know how to get the residue of buttermilk completely off of the butter, so you answered my question. Press the butter with a spatula to squeeze out as much buttermilk as you can, then wash the butter in cold water. Awesome. Thanks again.

    • Drew, I am getting better at making cultured cream butter and buttermilk, and tonight I had my biggest success ever! Out of six cups of cream, we ended up with a yield of 2 solid cups of gorgeously beautiful butter and more than 3 cups of fantastic buttermilk! I just had to share my success with you, because you have been one of the most helpful people in my journey toward learning how to make butter. Thank you again!

  68. I was looking at the butter machines. It looks like a paint stirrer hooked to an electric motor. You could probably do a DIY for half the price. Prob cheaper just to make the kids shake it though :)

  69. I’m sure you could. But once you find a container that can handle the torque without the lid snapping off, then mount a motor that can handle the increased load as the butter thickens up without burning out, not to mention either the motor or the threads will have to run “backwards” so it doesn’t just unscrew the lid … well, the price for a new one starts sounding a bit more reasonable.

  70. I am glad to find this post. I did this when I was young with the cream from the Goats we had for 4-H. My Mom put us to work shaking the Jar. I have been wanting to make it recently….now I can. Thanks!

  71. Ah stumbled on this site from a friend, just building a list of things to cook and might just have to come up with a reason to make this… day ending in y perhaps. Reading this brought back memories, I don’t know if you can find this though I suspect it is on the internet somewhere but read ‘HP’ by S. Baring-Gould (of Onward Christian Soldiers fame if you know that song) it is a ghost story (not scary but hilarious) about inventing butter…

  72. Drew, I have tried this recipe and found the resulting butter to be too light and buttermilky. I tried to whip it like crazy to get every drop out but I wonder if I may have instead inextricably combined the two. I don’t have a machine mixer by the way.

    I have seen other recipes with pictures of very yellow, thick butter – this is more what I’m after. Do you know what might be going on here?

  73. You did this by hand? Without a churn? Wow, I’m impressed.

    To answer your question, I don’t think you combined the two. My guess is that you simply didn’t beat it enough. I’m sure your arm was about to fall off, but the old-fashioned method was to use a butter churn. Still used people-power, but it was a machine purpose-built to do that one thing. Doing this by hand without any specialized tools seems like a real challenge.

    One other possibility is it’s the cream you started with. Best to use is raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the color. That depends on the diet of the cows the cream came from. Lots of commercial butter has yellow coloring added, because people expect it.

    • Thanks for your reply Drew. Indeed yes, my arm was about to fall off… my hand had become almost claw-like. As it was my first attempt I did not invest in any high-quality ingredients, though I think the explanation more likely resides in the lack of a churn. Good to know that about the colour; I’ll stick to taste as an indicator should there be a next time. :-)


  74. Do you suppose that an ice cream maker would work to churn the cream into butter?

  75. Bernice, I highly doubt it. With enough time you might eventually start to separate the butterfat from the whey, but as soon as the process got going it would probably pop the paddle right out of the ice cream maker. (I’m assuming yours is made basically like mine.)

    I don’t know, though. You might have just had one of those great ideas that will take off on the internet. Let me know if you try it.

  76. I see that people are still conversing on this thread so I’ll go ahead and post my two cents for future readers. :-)

    You can’t just skim the cream and make butter from goat’s milk because it is naturally homogenized. Only a tiny bit of cream will ever rise to the top. You could certainly buy a cream separator but they are quite expensive.
    Hoeggers used to sell a small one called the Busy Liz for maybe $25 but I don’t see it on their website these days.

    I raised dairy goats throughout my teenage years and drank hundreds of gallons of goats milk in that time. (For the record, it tastes identical to cows milk… just ask the guests we used to humor by keeping a clean gallon milk jug in the house and assuring them that we kept cows milk on hand just in case they were afraid to try goats milk. After they saw us pour their glass from the jug and drank it, we would innocently ask “I thought you didn’t like goat’s milk?” Worked every time.) I’ve made my own soft cheese (chevre), yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche, and buttermilk, and can testify they are all superior to store bought.
    I’m sorry I can’t specifically help David up there… the only way I know of to get thick, sour buttermilk is to culture it… but i do have some suggestions. I suspect that since letting the milk sit in the churn was part of the process, perhaps “not keeping the churn scrupulously clean” :-) or at least not sanitizing it after each use meant there were bacteria colonies that lived in the churn and did some of the culturing before the cream was churned, so it would be similar to starting out with some yogurt like Drew is teaching us to do. Since you have access to fresh, raw milk, I would bet that you could make several batches of butter over the course of a week, without washing the container (churn) in between (at least, don’t use soap… maybe just rinse it), and begin to culture those friendly bacteria that would create the buttermilk you are looking for. I suggest this based on the knowledge that you can leave water and flour uncovered for a few days, allowing wild yeast in the air to settle into the mixture, and thus create your own sourdough starter anytime, anywhere. You can even use store bought yeast, which after a few generations of reproducing in your flour and water mixture will revert to it’s wild ancestors and behave like wild yeast again. Since I doubt flies are a huge problem inside your house, I’d also leave the “churn” uncovered at least part of the time while it was culturing. I’d bet that just like the wild yeast spores, those taste-creating bacteria are still floating around somewhere. :-)

    And Drew, you are correct, if you raise dairy animals and milk them, you must milk them very religiously on a strict schedule to maintain milk supply and prevent painful engorgement and infections. However, in nature, the milk is created for the offspring, and through a perfect system of supply and demand, the mothers body will only create exactly as much milk as has been “demanded” of her over the last few days. As the babies grow they nurse more frequently, increasing her supply, and as they are weaned, her supply dwindles so that she is never over producing either. When humans step in to collect them milk for themselves, they must milk regularly (usually every 12 hrs.) both to collect them milk that has been produced over the last 12 hrs, and to trigger the animal to produce more. Usually the babies are taken away at birth and most or all of the milk is bottle fed right back to them for the first few months. However, by continuing to empty the udder morning and night, day after day, the mother’s body can be convinced to continue producing milk (up to about a year) long after her babies no longer need it, and that is when we humans get to enjoy it.

    Finally, for anyone who is utterly fascinated by the idea of making their own butter(!) cheese, etc., I highly recommend the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially the first one, Little House in the Big Woods. (I promise they are VERY easy reading, and way more entertaining and interesting than the T.V. show. :-) The descriptions of how the family made butter, staw hats, cheese, maple syrup, smoked meat, dried vegetables, etc. are just about detailed enough to enable to you to try them yourself. So go ahead, and good luck!

    Thanks, Drew, and all you commentors, for a fascinationg read. :-)

  77. There are two kinds of buttermilk. Strictly speaking, the buttermilk is the watery stuff that you pour off after making butter. But that is not what people are thinking of when they say buttermilk. The buttermilk in the grocery store is just plain old milk that has had a culture added to it. You can buy buttermilk and use it to turn regular milk into buttermilk using the same process as you’d use to make yogurt. So it’s important to distinguish between buttermilk from butter making and cultured buttermilk. And the person who said old-timers never skimmed off the cream — you must have been talking to city folks who didn’t do their own butter. Of course you have to skim the cream. That has always been done. That’s how it’s made, and any old-timer who actually made his or her own butter will tell you that.

  78. I enjoyed this post. I thought I would pass along this old book from 1909 on setting up a creamery to make butter. It doesn’t cover home churning but it does cover everything else you need to know about raw milk from the farm to preserving the butter.

    I would note you can buy buttermilk cultures that might be what is needed to achieve the old fashioned buttermilk if applied to cream. I made cultured butter using sour cream culture and the buttermilk was pretty tasty.

    You are running some risks using natural culturing, i.e., just leaving the cream out covered for debris, as you can’t be sure the raw milk doesn’t have a large colony of bad bacteria that will overwhelm the lactis bacilli.

  79. Love your recipe! I make kefir from kefir “grains” and I’m going to try using them to make cultured butter. I know they contain several strains of Lactobacillus bacteria along with other bacteria and yeasts, so should be at least similar to using live culture yoghurt.

    • Perhaps not EXACTLY like Grandmother, lol.
      Here’s an excerpt from “The People’s Home Recipe Book” section of “The People’s Home Library” a book I inherited from my husband’s grandmother. by Mrs. Alice Gitchell Kirk, Cleveland, OH 1914:
      To Keep Butter for Winter Use
      Into 6 lbs of fresh butter, work a large spoonful of salt, and a tablespoonful each of saltpeter and powdered white sugar. Pack in a crock that is perfectly clean and cover with salt.

      And, then, I guess you could make boiled cabbage and melt the butter over it, because, according to this book, you can keep cabbage worms away:
      Spray the cabbages with a mixture of 6 qts of water, an ounce of yellow soap, and one pint of kerosene, and you will kill the worms without injuring the plant.


    • Where do you find kefir grains, trying to make my own kefir milk and water.
      I already make my own yogurt, now I’m trying other fermented things for the probiotics in them. Any more suggestions?
      Thanks Sheliah

  80. after the butter is complete are you able to can the butter or is that something that you have not tried? have seen reciepes to can butter have never done it myself.

  81. Deb, I’ve seen the same set of directions floating around at several sites, but I don’t think I would do it. Check out this link for an explanation.

    If you’ve got a source of milk that you’re trying to process, it might be worth it, but buying milk or cream to make and can butter sounds like a bad deal.

  82. Janet Anderson says:

    Thanks for posting this.. I just made “real butter” with your yummy

  83. LOVE this!!! And by the way, I have a hand mixer like that too. It is perfect for light things like cream/whipped cream, etc… can’t live without it and no electric required!

  84. Has anyone encountered this problem? I was excited to make cultured butter for the first time yesterday. Last night after it was cultured I began the beating process using my small hand-held electric beaters. Unlike when I’ve made regular butter before, just when I though it was going to break it didn’t. Instead, it just continued getting thicker. I thought it might be the temp so put the bowl in very cold water while I continued to whip. 30 minutes later I gave up and stuck the whole bowl in the refrigerator to deal with today. It’s looking like whipped butter and tastes like weak butter, obviously because it still has the buttermilk in it. I’m betting it’s too late to turn into butter but wonder what I can use it for now? And what did I do wrong for the next time I gather courage to try again?

  85. ayhan dagci says:

    in turkey rural areas,butter is made of yogurt.its smell and taste is more charming to me than milk-butter you see in markets.and I make it myself at home too… firs you need fresh milk to make yogurt. I boil milk a few minuts. then I wait it to cool untill it just about to burn my finger…then I add a spoon or two original yourt into the milk and mix it. you must keep it at room temperature atleast 8 hours. then you take the yogurt into refrigerator.

    the next step is butter. if you want the eat yogurt,you may only have the upper side of the yogurt because butter is mainly collected upper side of yourt. taking it into a mixer with some water, mix it maybe 10 minutes. you will see butter particules grows..then collect them with a spoon and clean with water.

    the remaining part is not a waste. drink it as ayran..add some salt maybe…

  86. Nancy Johnson says:

    You wrote: “When my wife’s great aunt passed away, while the other relatives asked for the quilts and lace we went to the kitchen. Nobody else even wanted anything.”

    Good thing I wasn’t there!

    Thanks for sharing this method. We’ve been making cultured butter homemade a few years now and it can’t be beat.

    I also go a step further to change some into ghee to cook all my vegetable and soup dishes and so on. Ghee is so delectable; it’s what made me vegetarian. Animal food but without having to slaughter anything to get it. As we can see here, cows especially give humanity so many wonderful foods from their milk.

    • I haven’t made ghee yet. As a non-vegetarian I do most of my frying in bacon fat, so the extra step to clarify the butter would be a waste of time for me.

      Of course, I’ve heard ghee is amazing on popcorn, so you never know.

  87. Nancy Johnson says:

    You wrote: “When my wife’s great aunt passed away, while the other relatives asked for the quilts and lace we went to the kitchen. Nobody else even wanted anything.”

    Good thing I wasn’t there!

    Thanks for sharing this method. We’ve been making cultured butter homemade a few years now and it can’t be beat.

    I also go a step further to change some into ghee to cook all my vegetable and soup dishes and so on. Ghee is so delectable; it’s what made me vegetarian. Animal food but without having to slaughter anything to get it. As we can see here, cows especially give us so many wonderful foods from their milk.


  1. […] a number of sites with directions on how to make it yourself. Here are some good ones: Positron, Cook Like your Grandmother, What Geeks Eat, Traveler’s Lunchbox, and more recently, Michael […]

  2. […] made my own butter recently from this recipe. It turned out too light and buttermilky for my taste, like one of those butter + something […]

  3. […] then blog about it.”  So I obsessively searched through Drew’s blog until I came to the butter post.  This is a different system than my Grandmother used, because I distinctly remember a gallon jar […]

  4. So, if I dream I have you, For, all our joys are but fantastical….

    To know how to live is all my calling and all my art….

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