Per our review of The Troll Cookbook, we made one of its recipes: butter. It called for nothing more than a tight-lidded jar, a marble and some heavy whipping cream. Much of Troll Cookbook covers how-to’s on canning, sourdough starters, wild foraging and home dairy processing; heady stuff if you’re into it. We thought butter matched our capabilities of the moment, and given the extreme simplicity of the requirements, a must-do.
In practice, it took a lot more shaking than the “several minutes” described, but to be fair, it was a hot day, and hot hands likely hampered our process. Luckily, a few minutes here and there in the freezer went a long way, helping the product break and eventually — magically — butter-ize. Even after another mishap, since I also tried extracting the butter too early, and the mass of it broke apart in my bowl. (I recovered butter, but not buttermilk.) Efforts were indeed rewarded however, and the product tasted like real, rich butter. In the future, armed with a bit of experience, we’d experiment using raw cream, as well as with salted and flavored options.
Our thanks to co-authors Clint Marsh and Karima Cammell, who let us share the recipe:
Impatient trolls have been known to prepare this recipe by shaking an entire cow, but this can make the butter difficult to extract. Humans have better luck using a jar full of cream and a marble.
A jar with a tight-fitting lid
2 cups of heavy whipping cream (use raw unpasteurized cream if making traditional buttermilk)
1 bowl of ice water
Salt (for salted butter)
Making butter is essentially the same as making whipped cream, except with more shaking and no sugar. If you add a marble to the jar it will speed the process of agitation as it bounces around in the cream. Fill the jar with the cream, drop in the marble, seal the lid on tightly and shake the jar vigorously for several minutes. Continue shaking util you feel the cream “break” — the butterfat separating and solidifying, its thick mass whacking against the sides of the jar. When it has done this, open the jar, remove the butter, and set it in a dry bowl. (Don’t forget to pick out the marble and lick it clean.) The fluid left in the jar is low-fat milk, as all the milkfat has clumped into the butter, and can be drank or saved for cooking with later. (If you are using raw cream, the natural bacteria found in the liquid makes it cultured buttermilk, the byproduct found in butter churns throughout most of history.) Pour a cup of cold water over the butter and press it gently with a spatula to coax out more of the buttermilk. Drain the water from the bowl and repeat, pouring, pressing and draining until the liquid coming from the butter is clear. If you are making salted butter add salt to taste, kneading it in. Wrap the butter in waxed paper or spoon it into a butter crock, a specialized container that submerges the butter underwater to keep it fresh longer.
[Image: Edie Crawford]