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Posts Tagged ‘cream’

We’ve posted before about how to make your own buttermilk, butter, and yogurt… but there’s more, and this one is even easier!

I love real cream almost as much as I love butter. It makes my occasional cups of coffee or chai much more enjoyable, and it factors into some delicious desserts and other treats. I delight in my homemade whipped cream, making it as thick as I want or flavoring it as desired. The canned kinds (or heaven forbid, Cool Whip) do not compare at all. The only thing I’m lacking now is a cow to give me my very own cream source…

Thankfully, there are plenty of dairy farms around, and I ordered some good Evans Farmhouse cream from my Wholeshare group. It’s a very good quality cream from grass-fed Jerseys, and you can see the difference just by looking at the color.

Even in a shoddy picture like this.

I normally make a batch of awesome butter with this cream, or add it into one of my Norwegian cookie recipes. I have also used some for whipped cream that I try to put in/on things, but sometimes I can’t resist eating it straight.

This time, though, I wanted to do something different.

Stonyfield used to produce cream-top whole milk yogurt that I loved. Now they no longer do, and I have to switch between the widely available Brown Cow or any number of lesser known in-state dairies such as Maple Hill Creamery, Hawthorne Valley Farm, or the previously noted Evans Farmhouse Creamery.

I got the idea that I wanted to make something that was sort of similar to that cream on top of the yogurts, but in more quantity so I could cover things with it or get really happily fat eating it on its own.

Upon reading a little about its uses, I decided that crème fraîche seemed like it might fit the bill. I’d never made it before, but happily, it’s extremely easy. It’s more about patience than anything else. This is a soured/cultured product, but it’s less tangy, thicker, and much fattier than regular yogurt. It is less sour and a little thinner than standard sour cream.

Supplies you will need:

  • – Container to hold the cream. Can be any size desired, according to the amount you want to make. Needs to be something non-reactive and clean (though it isn’t necessary to sterilize it). Glass or plastic bowls are what I use. If you live with animals or anything that might disturb the cream, make sure you have a hiding spot or a good cover for the container.
  • – Source of starter culture. This can be buttermilk, sour cream, or any reasonably good quality yogurt that doesn’t have too many additives.
  • – The cream itself. It’s best to use cream that has NOT been ultra-pasteurized, because it tends to thicken up faster if it isn’t. However, contrary to what you might hear, you CAN make very successful crème fraîche with ultra-pasteurized cream. I have done both and can’t tell much difference between them in the end.

You may also want measuring cups and spoons, though it’s not an exact science so it’s not entirely necessary.

The tray is actually an old container from Chinese takeout... ;>_>

The tray is actually an old container from Chinese takeout… ;>_>

It’s so easy…

  • – Pour out the cream into your container.
  • – Next, mix in your starter source, be it any of the three choices. You want about 2 tablespoons of the starter source for every 1 cup of cream.
  • – Stir gently with a clean spoon, knife, stir-stick, or whatever else you have around. The goal is to evenly combine the cream with the culture. I just try to make the mixture smooth so there’s no ‘chunks’.
  • – Set it in a warm-ish place where it won’t get knocked over. If you use a lid, some say it’s best to leave it partially open so the good bacteria can ‘breathe’, but from my experience, it works fine even with the lid completely sealed.
  • – Just wait anywhere from 12-24 hours and you should have your crème fraîche.

That’s right – there is no extra work, no extra heating, nothing. My kitchen is about 70-75 degrees and it works just fine in about 22 hours. If your area is warmer than that, it might be done faster. If its cooler, it might go slower. If your cream is ultra-pasteurized, it may take a few hours more than my given time frame as well.

You want to look and see it becoming more solid. If you’re like me, you peek at it during the process. It starts out liquid, and is liquid for much of the time. When it’s done, though, it gets thicker and more like yogurt in appearance. It doesn’t ‘flow’ when you tip it, it tends to ‘slide’. If you spoon some up and drop it back into the container, it sort of holds the shape you dropped it in. That means it’s done. You can also leave it out longer for an even thicker, tangier product. Don’t be afraid to taste and see what you like.

It’s safe and fine to eat it as is at at this stage, although I like to refrigerate it first, because that thickens it up even more. You can mix or dip things in to your heart’s content. It’s also good for cooking, as it tends to resist curdling/separating.

I like to stir in a couple spoonfuls of honey before sticking it in the fridge, and it comes out ready to be put on fruit or enjoyed out of the bowl in all of its butt-expanding glory.

After being fridged. This batch was made with ultra-pasteurized cream – proof that it works!

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I am a huge fan of butter.

Well, I am a huge fan of cream and its products in general. It started with the discovery that I could make super thick and delicious whipped cream of my very own (perhaps more on that subject later). When I was little, I loved the kind I could spray out of a can and into big dollops. Now I learned that what I make myself is much more enjoyable in flavor, doesn’t go flat upon sitting, and doesn’t have any unnecessary additives, either – it’s just the cream, perhaps with a small amount of sugar or flavoring of my choice.

I was raised on margarine, but upon going out and living on my own, I shifted away from this product, and now I can barely stand it in comparison to butter. Even so, I had always simply bought my butter from the store, or from the area’s Amish on occasion that I passed by. My cream purchases usually got turned into whipped cream or put into my baking. After I obtained a pint of grass-fed, organic cream from the Jersey cows at Evans Farmhouse Creamery, though, I decided I was going to do something different this time. I had enough whipped cream. It was time to try making butter… and I succeeded. The result was glorious, with a creamier, stronger ‘butter flavor’ than I had ever had before. Wanting more, I picked up some quarts of a larger local brand and got busy.

A lot of the time, making your own stuff at home saves you money. I am not going to even pretend it’s the case here, as it’s certainly not always cheaper to do it this way. Pre-made, store-bought butter is relatively inexpensive for what goes into it, especially for conventional brands (non-specialty/non-organic/etc.) or generics/store brands. If you buy specialty butter, though, or you have a source of cream that’s inexpensive or from your own animals, you may be able to break even or make it cost slightly less.

You have to look at the other benefits too, though. You get very fresh butter that hasn’t picked up any off flavors or sat on a shelf for weeks. You get to learn a new skill. You choose whatever cream you want, and you can add whatever flavors, herbs, or spices you like, in whatever quantity you like – or add none at all. You control the process. Best of all, it’s really easy. It just takes a bit of time.

You start with about a pint of heavy cream. If you have a bigger container of it, just pour out roughly a pint. It doesn’t have to be exact. I only do this much at a time because it puffs itself up and flings itself around a lot, and more than this amount is hard to contain! Plus, a pint will give you just slightly shy of 8oz. of butter when you’re done, assuming yours is anything like mine. You can whip this cream using something as complex as a stand mixer, or you can do something as simple as constantly shaking a container with a tight lid. The process is essentially the same. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to describe how I did it, using a small electric hand mixer.

Use a fairly large bowl – the cream should fill it less than halfway. Then stick in your mixer, turn it on high speed, and mix for a few minutes. For those familiar with making whipped cream, you whip it until it swells up to that stage…

… but you keep going after… and going, and going… until it starts to clump up and stop looking so pretty and white. It begins to take on a yellowish tinge at this time. This is an indicator that you’re getting close! Keep going!

After a few more moments, the yellow really starts to stand out. The cream separates fully, and little particles of butter start flinging themselves around the bowl as they’re tossed by the mixer. If you stop to check it, you’ll see a pool of buttermilk rapidly flow out and puddle underneath. The butter has appeared! This is where you can stop (although if you’re unsure if it’s done, you can keep mixing for a bit longer – you won’t hurt it now).

Take a strainer, cloth, or anything else suitable and spoon the butter mixture into it. The buttermilk will start to drain out. You can get rid of it if you really want to, but it’s good to drink, or you can use it for baking (although it is not the same as the cultured buttermilk you buy in stores).

After it drips for a bit, take the butter in the strainer and dump it into a different bowl. You can use the bowl you originally mixed the cream in – just rinse it lightly first. Run cold water over the butter in the bowl. You’ll see this water turn cloudy as buttermilk comes out. Knead the butter with your hands, folding it over on itself and pressing more buttermilk out, gathering the little bits of butter together. Dump the water out, and put new cold water on, repeating the kneading until the water is relatively clear. It’s important to get the buttermilk out (or most of it anyway), because it goes rancid rather quickly and greatly reduces your butter’s storage length. You can also rinse the butter under cold running water to help in this.

After you get the buttermilk out, you’re left with some handfuls of pure sweet cream butter like in the picture above. You can use it just like this, or you can add salt, herbs, or spices. I like to add just a small amount of salt, or mix in a spoonful of honey and some cinnamon for a great cinnamon-honey butter. Don’t worry about adding too little. You can sample it as you go, and you can always add more, so it’s far more important not to add too much from the start! Knead the ingredients in, in the same way you got the buttermilk out. If the butter gets too soft in your hands, cool it and your hands with cold water and continue. When everything seems well-incorporated, you can stop.

So, from a pint of cream, you get a few ounces of buttermilk and a nice log of butter. You also get to say that you made butter, and you can do it any time you get the urge! The buttermilk should be refrigerated if not immediately consumed. You can press the butter into a mold, cup, or anything else of your choice, but I just lay mine out on wax paper and wrap it well. I then refrigerate it until it’s used up, or for longer storage, I place the wrapped butter chunk inside a freezer bag and freeze. It keeps well for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or for months in the freezer… if you let it last that long!

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