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Homemade Butter – Waste Not, Want Not

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a huge party. We fed and watered 50 people, all without using a paper plate or serviette or plastic cups or cutlery. A ton of food, plenty of drink and lots of laughs. It went off. There were no leftovers and minimal food waste so I was very impressed that all of my planning and hard work had paid off. Then this week, I spotted a bottle of cream in the fridge that should have gone on the table with the desserts. D’oh!

turn cream into homemade butter

Whilst the cream still smelled sweet, it had actually been stored in the freezer and defrosted for the party so it was starting to get a bit of age on it. Instead of throwing it out, I decided to have a go at making some homemade butter. Talk about a runaway success! Within 10 minutes, I had a large ball of butter, made without barely lifting a finger. What once would have been hours of drudgery for prairie wives was but a few minutes work with the wonders of modern technology.

The Secret
There secret is, there is no magic secret to making butter. It’s simply the agitation of the liquid until the solid fat molecules bind and the excess buttermilk is forced out. I didn’t use a special or specific type of cream, just standard thickened or whipping cream. I am not advocating for pasteurised (or not), homogenised (or not). I am an advocate for having a go with what ever you can to hand or would like to purchase. The only pre-requisite is that you should use full fat (normal) cream, not low fat because otherwise, what’s the point?

Homemade Butter

fresh unsalted butter in a dish


  • Thickened (double) cream
  • 2 cups iced water
  • Sea salt (optional)


  • Pour cream into the food processor. Turn on and run for several minutes. You may want to stop after the first minute to scrape down the sides.
  • At first the cream will thicken, then become whipped. At around the 5 – 7 minute mark the cream will start to collapse on itself and rapidly form into butter particles, gradually clumping together. Buttermilk will separate and pool at the bottom of the bowl.

    butter forming in the food processor with buttermilk at bottom

    Butter forming & buttermilk spinning out…

  • Tip the butter into a strainer lined with muslin or a clean dish cloth and drain off excess buttermilk. Using your hand or a wooden spoon, push the butter pieces together, pressing out excess buttermilk. Allow to sit for a few minutes then press butter again to push out more buttermilk. Set aside buttermilk for another cooking purpose.
squeezing buttermilk out of freshly made butter

Squeezing out the buttermilk…

  • Place ball of butter into a new bowl and pour 1/2 cup iced water over butter. Massage butter again to wash out the last of the diluted buttermilk. Pour off water, discard and repeat with another 1/2 cup of water. Continue until all water is used.
  • The butter is now ready for use. If you are going to salt the butter, add a small pinch to the butter at this point and mix the butter to distribute the salt. A little salt goes a long way so have a taste before adding extra salt.
  • Store homemade butter in a covered container in the fridge or, do as I did and form the butter into small butter pats, storing them in the freezer so they can be defrosted when needed.

Makes 2/3 of the volume of cream used

three pats of butter sprinkled with smoked salt

Butter pats sprinkled with smoked salt…

So, do you think you’re going to have a go?

12 comments… add one
  • Pamela hayward July 23, 2016, 2:17 pm

    Great idea…and some buttermilk for baking. Can you share some food pics of your dinner…am impressed with no paper plates, serviettes, etc.

    • Fiona Ryan July 24, 2016, 6:16 pm

      No food pics I’m afraid. It was all gone. I will write a post about what I made etc, most from recipes on the blog.

  • Jen July 23, 2016, 6:25 pm

    I can vouch for how easy it is to make butter. Hubby inadvertently made butter instead of whipped cream to ice my “significant” birthday cake this year (angel food cake … my favourite!). His insistence on doing it “my way” and using the “cream” anyway led to gales of laughter from my boys when enjoying that cake!

    • Fiona Ryan July 24, 2016, 6:17 pm

      Ha! After I had written the post I thought about a time I also whipped cream too far when making a dessert.

  • Sherry from sherryspickings July 23, 2016, 8:51 pm

    That’s a great idea Fiona. I have made butter in the past by accident. I just whipped the cream too long. I actually have 2 wooden butter paddles so you can give it a good thrashing. Very therapeutic !

    • Fiona Ryan July 24, 2016, 6:17 pm

      Yes, I did think, ‘if only I had some butter paddles’. Perfect therapy!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 24, 2016, 3:33 pm

    This is exactly how I ended up making my own butter the first time 😀

    • Fiona Ryan July 24, 2016, 6:18 pm

      So I can see a theme here and it seems like it is experienced cooks who wanted to get that cream just a little stiffer!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook July 24, 2016, 5:40 pm

    butter is so easy to make – and a great way to use up the dregs of the cream (or that carton that’s about to go off). Adding your own flavours is my favourite bit.

    • Fiona Ryan July 24, 2016, 6:19 pm

      I know you probably do it in the Thermomix Mel. It had never occurred to me that the food processor would also do it. NOt a regular occurrence as I don’t often have cream but good to have in your arsenal.

  • Liz August 1, 2016, 12:26 pm

    The buttermilk is almost (read that, almost) the best part!

    • Fiona Ryan August 2, 2016, 2:26 pm

      It was a bonus and certainly thicker than any commercial version I’ve seen. It will take us quite a while to get through just this small amount of butter so for now at least, I’ll need to keep buying the buttermilk!

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