Myth: Cultured butter is butter that has traveled abroad.
Fact: Cultured butter is butter made with cream that has been “cultured” with bacteria before being churned to yield a rich, tangy butter. It is most commonly served in the UK and France, though that is not the origins for its name.
It all starts with a bowl of crème fraiche, which normally will cost upwards of six dollars for a paltry amount at the store, but is incredibly easy to make at home. Just whisk a spoonful of yogurt into a bowl of cream and let it sit at room temperature for about a day until thick and tangy. If all you wanted was crème fraiche to serve on top of a bittersweet chocolate tart with a few flakes of sea salt (not a bad idea), stop here and store the crème fraiche in the fridge. Otherwise, continue on to churn the butter.
Churning butter is very straightforward: you have to agitate the fat molecules enough so that they clump up enough to leave any excess moisture behind. You may have done this already if you’ve ever over-whipped cream and were left with a chunky mess to serve on pie.
You can use either a jar to shake the crème fraiche until the butter forms, or you can use a handheld mixer until the butter forms.
This is what the churned butter in buttermilk looks like.
Pour off the buttermilk and save it to use in biscuits, cornbread, or dressings.
Now you’re left with pure butter. Pour a little cold water over it to rinse the butter, then pour off any remaining liquid and season the butter with sea salt to taste.
Spread the butter on toasted or warm bread, or toss some fresh pasta in the cultured butter with a handful of chopped herbs. The complex and tangy flavors of the butter make it best served with simple foods and fresh ingredients that will showcase each component of the dish.
Makes about 2/3-1 cup butter and an equal amount of buttermilk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons yogurt with live-active cultures (Greek or regular both work)
A few pinches of sea salt
- Whisk together the heavy cream and yogurt in a metal bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Let sit at room temperature for 12-36 hours until the mixture is uniformly thick and smells tangy. If you stop at this step, you have crème fraiche. If you want to continue on to butter, continue to step 2.
- To churn the butter you have two options: use a handheld mixer to whip the crème fraiche thoroughly until the butter forms, about 2 minutes, or pour the crème into a jar and shake for 6-8 minutes until butter chunks form.
- Pour off the buttermilk into a separate container, leaving the butter behind. Pour some cold water (about 1 cup) over the butter and stir with a spoon to loosen any remaining buttermilk. Carefully pour off the water and press with a spoon to remove excess moisture.
- Add a few pinches of sea salt to taste, then spoon the butter into an air-tight container and store in the fridge. Use it for all of your toast and condiment ventures that would benefit from a smear of high-quality butter.