How to make homemade butter.
On what was probably the foggiest, coldest day of the year an intrepid band of food history enthusiasts braved the elements to join me for a morning of food history and historical cookery. Organised by Heritage Lincolnshire as part of their Layers of History project, the workshop was held at the beautiful South Ormsby Hall.
The Hall is situated within the 3000-acre South Ormsby Estate, with 150 acres of parkland in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds, seven miles south of Louth. The Estate has ambitious plans to regenerate and improve the area as a place to live, work and enjoy. Sensitive and sustainable restoration and development will form the foundations of plans that will support rural businesses, encourage entrepreneurship and provide new facilities for the community.
The hall was largely rebuilt in the mid 1700’s, overseen by the architect James Paine. To reflect our splendid surroundings the workshop began with my talk on food and drink of Georgian England - “Tea, Tax and Turmoil”! After my presentation we had the opportunity to look at authentic period kitchenalia from my personal collection, including a sarcophagus tea caddy, Georgian sugar nippers and spice tins.
At break time we all enjoyed tasters of the two recipes that we were going to recreate. Georgian snowballs (very apt given the weather), home made butter and scones made with the buttermilk. Suitably fortified we then rolled up our sleeves to get creating our delicious food to take home and enjoy.
People were surprised at just how easy it is to make your own butter and we had lots of fun adding our own flavours, choosing from dill, chive, garlic and the traditional sea salt. We used butter hands to give an authentic artisan finish, wrapping in greaseproof paper and tied up with string.
I thought you might like to have a go at making your own butter too, all you need is some double cream and salt and away you go! This is a great indoor activity to do with the kids over half term. A 300ml pot of cream yields approximately 150g of butter. If you would like to use “Butter hands”, the ridged wooden traditional paddles, they can be found online quite easily
· 300 ml pot of double cream, or more should you wish.
· Salt to your own personal taste.
· Flavourings of your choice, if desired – including chives, garlic, dill, black pepper, lemon, thyme, rosemary.
· Tsp lemon juice to add to butter milk if you are going to use it.
· Large mixing bowl, whisk, jug, muslin cloth, baking parchment, string.
· Optional extras – butter hands. You can put your butter into a butter dish or pat it into the shape you want, rather than using butter hands.
· Have clear worktop space to work on and sink clear nearby.
· Line muslin cloth in a jug, leaving an overhang of cloth.
· Pour double cream into mixing bowl and whisk.
· Keep whisking and the cream will change from normal whisked double cream, to being over whisked, to then separating into what looks like scrambled eggs. Keep going and you will all of a sudden see a lot of liquid separating out. You have made butter! The liquid is called buttermilk.
· Gather the solid butter out of the bowl and put it in the muslin cloth in the jug.
· Squeeze out the buttermilk and save.
· Run your butter under running cold water to wash out the buttermilk, do this under the tap, whilst keeping your butter in your muslin cloth. Keep squeezing the water and liquid out, until you think you have removed it all. Squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible.
· Turn your butter onto your work top and pat it with butter hands to get the shape you want. If you don’t have butter hands just shape it by hand.
· You have several choices now. Leave it as it is, or add salt to your taste and add the flavourings that you want.
· Then either mould it into the container of your choice, or stamp it, or my personal favourite is to make a butter roll with the butter hands and wrap in baking parchment and tie up with string.
· Keep refrigerated until ready to use. It won’t keep as long as commercially produced butter, but I don’t think it will hang about too long!
· The buttermilk that is reserved is fantastic for making scones or soda bread, but it is not the same as commercially bought cultured buttermilk. All you need to do is add a squeeze of lemon juice to it, leave for half an hour and you are ready to use it. You could have freshly made and baked scones, made with your own buttermilk, spread with your home-made butter – YUM!
Sadie Hirst is a multi -award winning artisan baker, public speaker and columnist. She works with many local community groups, charities and organisations with her food history and historical cookery workshops, presentations and demonstrations. If you would like to contact Sadie you can email her or see You can follow her on Twitter Sadie Hirst@sadiemhirst or Sadie Hirst on Instagram