As you beat the cream, it will start to look yellow (like butter), and you will start to notice liquid in the bowl. The whipped cream has now broken down, and you have butter and buttermilk. Keep beating until you get a totally broken-down mixture.
You can see how there is a lot of liquid in the bowl and small clusters of butter that will stick together when pressed together.
I put a strainer into a bowl (for the sake of the photos), but if you’re doing this at home, I would suggest putting your strainer into your sink. Dump your mixture into the strainer and, using your hands (freshly washed!), start kneading the mixture together while lightly pressing it against the strainer. No need to be rough; you’re just trying to press out any extra buttermilk.
Turn on your cold water, run the butter under the water, and smooth it into a ball. Since you’re using cold water, the butter will not melt. You’re simply rinsing off the buttermilk, which helps keep the butter from spoiling too fast.
Add the washed-off butter to a small bowl, top with sea salt (if desired), and work it into the butter by hand.
To store the butter, simply wrap it in plastic wrap, and keep it in the fridge for up to a week — if it lasts that long.
How to make homemade butter (in a stand mixer)
Yields 1 pound
- 6 cups cold heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- To the bowl of an electric mixer, add the heavy cream. Add the splatter guard to the bowl, and plastic-wrap any openings. This will help cut down on splatter.
- Beat on medium-high speed for about 15 minutes, until it has gone through the following steps: soft peaks, fully whipped and broken down. The butter is ready when it’s yellow in color and you have lots of liquid in the bowl and butter that holds together when pressed.
- Strain out the liquid, and press out any remaining buttermilk in the butter. Run the butter under cold water, shape it into a ball, and place it into a small bowl.
- Top the butter with salt, and knead it into the butter until the salt is evenly distributed.
- Wrap the butter in plastic wrap, and keep it for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Originally published September 2014. Updated August 2016.