This time of year, try to get your hands on some local, fresh cream. If you aren't able to purchase directly from a dairy you trust, look for Organic Valley or another local certified organic milk source. In the Midwest, I know that Castle Rock and Kalona Supernatural are other great alternatives. I suggest organic milk because their dairymen are MUCH more likely to have cows on pasture than conventional dairies and the whole reason we're making butter in May and June is because of the pasture-fed cows producing the best quality milk of the whole season. On top of that, organic dairy herds tend to be smaller (don't look for Horizon Organic in that line-up; they are notorious for certifying CAFO dairies as organic). The smaller the herd, the more likely it is that these animals spend MOST or ALL of their time outdoors on fresh grass.
And that is exactly what we want. You see, a little known fact in our modern world is that fresh spring grass contains a vitamin not found at any other time of the year.
Each spring, we at St. Brigid's Meadows notice a more grassy flavor to our milk and the milkfat becomes much more yellow as the cows ingest a high amount of beta-carotine and vitamins E and D. In the mountains of Switzerland, the cream from freshly pastured cattle is highly prized and given only to the town’s best athletes and expectant mothers. The butter made from this once-a-year milk is even more special.
The butter made from grassfed cows in June contains “Activator X.” Besides being loaded with Vitamin E which is essential to cell health, spring grassfed butter is unique: “...A factor in young grass is apparently the same one as described by Dr. Weston A. Price, in the second edition of his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which he called “Activator X” and was found only in butter from cows fed spring grass. “Activator X” seemed very susceptible to oxidation, being lost in the butter within a few months after its production. “Activator X” was shown to promote calcification and health of bones and teeth in human patients. It inhibited the growth of the [bacteria responsible for cavities] completely, one test showing 680,000 salivary bacterial count before the use of “Activator X” and none after.”*
*taken from an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation website.
Websites like Dr. Mercola's and other health food sites sell just the Activator X in tablet form. You can do that, to be sure. But wouldn't it be more fun to make your own butter? I mean, it's butter; what's not to love? And then to know that it's gonna help your teeth and bones while making you healthier from the inside out? Let's go for it! Be a homesteader today...with a food processor.
Room Temperature Fresh Cream (amount will vary)
Salt (to taste)
Food Processor (we found that blenders and stand mixers don't work nearly as well)
Pour cream into your food processor. Blend on a medium setting for several minutes or until butter forms (really, it’s that simple).
Here is the freshly beaten butter. It's sitting in the remaining liquid which is pure, white buttermilk. The photos taken in this sequence are from cream from a dairy in April. Notice the lack of yellow in the butter. These cows weren't on grass yet.
Turn off mixer and pour off buttermilk. You can save this for any baking purposes or drink it as is.
Lovely homemade buttermilk!
You can see above that we put a tight netting metal collander over a bowl. This works well to capture any rogue butter chunks that hop out when you are draining off the buttermilk. Or you can safely dump the whole batch into the collander without losing any butter. Once drained, return butter to processor and add some very cold water. Blend again. Pour off water into your sink. This is not worth keeping as it is only watered down buttermilk. Repeat at least two more times or until water runs clear. You are rinsing the butter to get the last of the buttermilk out and help the longevity of the finished product. Once water runs clear, pour it off the final time and place the butter on a wooden cutting board (or any flat surface that you can tilt up a little bit). Use a spatula to sweep every last bit out of your processor and processor lid. It's worth it!
On the cutting board, start squeezing and squishing the butter with the spatula or a wooden spoon to remove any excess water. Tilt the board at an angle to allow the water to run off. Also, add your rock or sea salt and massage it in. Add to taste. It will be different each time you make butter. A little bit goes a long way, so start with just a pinch.
Once the water is out and the salt is in, you have ready-to-spread butter. Marvel at how much yellower it is than store bought. Refrigerate when not in use. Lasts for about one week or you can freeze it for up to a year.