I made butter tonight. It’s not like I set out to do so. It all started with the stew. Or maybe with the grocery budget.
I tried to start a new eating plan earlier this month that required expensive materials. I did one shopping trip trying to obtain the special food, and then gave up, but I had already spent a chunk of money on it. So now at the end of the month, I’m over budget. Even though the freezer is empty and the pantry is draining, I don’t want to go to the store unless I absolutely have to. So tonight’s dinner menu was to be stew, starting with two cans of meatball stew I had in the pantry. (I think I ended up adding 2 cups of pearl barley, 2 cans of kidney beans, 1 can of baked beans, 1 can of peas, 2 cans of tomato paste, water, bay leaves, white pepper, black pepper, oregano, and garlic.)
What good is stew without bread? I wanted to make Irish soda bread, but good Irish soda bread needs buttermilk, which I didn’t have. I went to pull up the recipe for fake buttermilk (1 Tbsp vinegar then fill the cup with milk, if you’re curious). The page I found had a snip at the end to the effect of you could make your own buttermilk if you had heavy cream laying about.
Wouldn’t you know it, I had a whole quart of heavy cream that was in danger of going out of date next week that I still didn’t have a use for! So I tossed it in the mixer and turned it on. Normally when you do this, you stop when it gets all fluffy, and then you add sugar and vanilla and have whipped cream (and if you’ve only ever had Cool Whip or Redi-Whip, you have GOT to try homemade whipped cream). This time, though, I didn’t stop there. I kept going. Just leave the mixer on for 10-15 minutes. It will go past whipped cream and turn into butter. You have to scrape the sides a bit to make sure all the cream gets in. Gradually, it will start to look yellow and crumbly, and when it starts splashing, it’s done.
Now I had butter bits in buttermilk. I strained the butter in a strainer, then used a wooden spoon to knead the butter against the strainer and squeeze out the rest of the milk. The milk went into the soda bread, and then I added salt and kneaded it into the butter. The butter went on the soda bread when it was done cooking. Yay, dinner! And I still had enough butter left over to fill my butter dish for toast and things.
I’ll have to check the prices, but this could be a good way to get buttermilk when I want it, since I tend to buy a quart and then not use half of it. I got about 2.5 cups of buttermilk out of a quart of heavy whipping cream, and what looks like a pound of butter. Considering how fast we go through butter, and the price of the whipping cream, it could be cheaper this way…and definitely more fun!