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I keep reading about how much healthier butter is when it’s made from cream given by grass-fed cows.  Trouble is, it’s kind-of hard to find, even at the co-op.  They have a special pasture butter right now, but it’s insanely expensive and it’s only for a limited time.

Happily, we already get our milk from Cedar Summit Farm, where cows are kept on grass.  I’ve heard that butter’s not difficult to make; I finally got around to it this morning.  Verdict:  EASY (if you have an electric mixer).

Really, you don’t even need a recipe.  Just pour some cream into your mixer and turn it on to medium speed.

Go have a cup of coffee and come back a good 5 minutes later.  It should start looking like whipped cream.

The whipped cream will keep getting thicker and thicker, then suddenly you hear a sloshing noise and behold, you have butter (and buttermilk).

I wish we would have switched to the other mixer attachment while we were still in the whipped cream stage; it was kind of a pain to get the butter off this whisk.

Strain off the buttermilk, form the butter into a ball, and rinse it with ice cold water.  Our yield (from four cups cream): 2 half-pint jars of butter.  So I guess that’s about 2 c., or 1 lb.  Plus some awesome authentic buttermilk.

I can’t believe how easy it was.  The whole process was about 20 minutes.  Apparently it’s a bit more challenging if you don’t have a mixer — I read one how-to that involved shaking a jar vigorously for at least 15 minutes.

Look at my homemade butter compared to this store-bought that we also have on hand.  The yellower the butter, the more nutritious it is.  Excellent.

Update, 31 May 2010: I finally remembered to take notes while grocery shopping so that I could work up a price comparison.  Here it is (prices from last week of May 2010 at the Seward CO-OP):

Special edition Organic Valley pasture butter, 1/2 lb. (8 oz.): $3.79
Cedar Summit Farm cream, 16 oz.: $3.79
Organic Valley buttermilk, 1 qt.: $2.99

Odd that both were $3.79, yes?  Anyway, so it actually breaks down pretty much exactly the same.  For $3.79 I can get the Cedar Summit Farm cream and make 1/2 lb of butter with it.  HOWEVER, I get the by-product — buttermilk — for free.  And we do use a lot of buttermilk in our cooking, so I am saving money with this.

Another thing to consider:  I’m not really sure how much pasture time the Organic Valley cows are really getting.  Look very carefully at the marketing copy used to describe the pasture butter: “Produced without antibiotics, or synthetic hormones and pesticides…at the height of pasture season.”  So, how many of the cows’ calories are actually coming from grass?  The cows are likely getting at least some grass, but Cedar Summit Farms clearly states that their cows get all grass, all year around.  And the resulting milk is healthier.  So yes, there is an economics factor to butter-making as well as a deliciousness factor.

And for the ultimate foodies out there, apparently real buttermilk gives better results than cultured buttermilk in cooking/baking.  And I have to say — the pancakes that we made with it this week were the fluffiest we’ve ever made.