Thanks to John Harrison of www.allotment-garden.org tweeting a reminder to look out for cut-price cream for butter making in the supermarkets post-Christmas, I picked up a couple of 600ml cartons of extra-thick double cream in our local Tesco for the bargain price of 23p each. The thinking was much more ‘rainy day activity’ than ‘bargain butter’ – but it turned out to be 46p very well spent on both counts.
I’ve never made butter before, but had watched a demonstration with my daughter in the dairy of the wonderful Acton Scott Farm in Shropshire earlier this year (Edwardian Farm this time, not Tudor Monastery – we seem to be unwittingly doing a tour).
So we filled two big old jars about a third of the way up with cream. And shook them. And that really is about it. Honestly, it was far easier and faster than making a cake. And yet anyone our proud 6 year old has told has reacted as if we’ve distilled our own vodka from dewdrops gathered at full moon. Incredulous surprise, ‘have you got the ‘equipment’?’ etc etc. Anyway – Anchor/Lurpak/Kerrygold are stitching us up everyone, it’s EASY!
Get a jar.
Fill a third full with room temperature double, whipping, or extra-thick double cream (slightly less than fresh is better).
Shake the jar.
If, like us, you’ve gone for extra-thick double, it will rapidly turn into a fat jar-shaped sausage of over-whipped solid cream very quickly. Keep shaking.
Eventually, the buttermilk will start to separate out.
And then all of a sudden, it’s a big ball of butter sitting in buttermilk.
Drain off the buttermilk (keep it for pancake making).
Fill the jar with clean cold water and drain away a couple of times, until the water is clear.
Get the butter out.
Squeeze out the watery buttermilk (with your hands into the sink initially, then with the backs of wooden spoons or whatever flat-ish implement you have to hand).
Shape it into blocks.
Add an artful imprint (christmas tree for us).
Wrap it in greaseproof paper.
Put in the fridge.
The shortest day of the year and the longest night, winter solstice is regarded as the official start of the winter season. And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the allotment and a short country walk. Cavalo Nero and leeks still flourishing, crab apples and raspberries still clinging and plenty of freshly laid eggs. Happy Solstice!