Tip: Make Butter By the Pound in a Stand Mixer

We are huge fans of making butter at home. Making your own butter is so fast and so easy that we often make small batches of table butter for maximum freshness and taste. But we've also been making extra-big batches lately, which is easy in the KitchenAid. Here's how (and why!) we've been making butter in the stand mixer.

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On our visit to Snowville Creamery a few weeks ago, we learned that cows stop producing so much cream in the winter. In fact, for a month or two after Christmas, Snowville can't guarantee any cream deliveries at all. This is because the cows take a short vacation from milk production, and even though there is an alternate hay-fed herd that will provide Snowville's winter milk, this cold-weather production is usually very low in fat.

We realized that it would actually be smart to use up some of the surplus summer cream, which is extra-high right now in fat and protein, and convert it into butter — which can be frozen for long periods of time. And we are actually saving some real dollars doing this; Snowville sells their cream in half gallons, each of which will give you over two pounds of butter, plus the skim milk left over.

Of course, we're not going to make butter every day just to save a bit here and there. But Snowville's cream is just so good, and it makes such brilliantly yellow butter (we didn't Photoshop the color in these photos at all!) that we felt it was worth it to stock up a few pounds of butter in the freezer.

This is also a great way to use up any extra cream you might have in your fridge; just throw it in the mixer or food processor and blend. The KitchenAid is especially helpful when making pounds at a time. We usually just do a cup or so in our mini-chopper, which makes just enough butter for toast and bread for a week. But when doing pounds of butter, you can do it all in one batch in the KitchenAid.

A quick refresher on the stages of making butter from cream:

• Put whole cream into a blender, food processor, or mixer, and whip it on high speed. It will initially whip up into whipped cream. Then the whipped cream will get thicker and thicker, like whipped butter. Don't stop here though!

• After 2-10 minutes, depending on the speed and strength of your machine, there will be a sudden change when the milk fat and solids separate out dramatically, leaving thin liquid behind. Beware of this, if you're using an open mixer; if you're mixing at high speeds, suddenly liquid will appear from nowhere and start spitting out of the bowl. If you're using a food processor you'll hear a "slap slap slap" as the butter suddenly forms up and whizzes through the thin buttermilk.

• After this, it's very important to drain away all of that buttermilk (which is really just skim, watery milk) and squeeze the butter under running water until all traces of milk have drained away and the water runs clear. Otherwise that leftover milk will cause your butter to go rancid within a few days. Squeeze it as tight as possible and rinse it well. Then pack it into an airtight container or into some plastic wrap, and freeze.

That's all there is to it! We just made two quarts of cream into a pound of good butter, using our KitchenAid. It took about five minutes, and cream that was at the end of its shelf life has a new use. Next time we're trying cultured butter!

Have you ever made butter?

Related: Do You Have A Good Recipe For Homemade Butter?

(Images: Faith Durand)