I meant to do that.

Stop whipping that cream! You’ll beat it into butter!!

This time that’s exactly what I’m setting out to do. And oh, how liberating it is. I have in my hand a pint of organic cream (not that it has to be, but you get a firmer butter when the cream hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized). It’s right at about 50 degrees, which is the optimum temperature for this sort of enterprise. You start by pouring it on into your food processor…

Then start up the machine. The first step on the road, after about 30 seconds, is whipped cream. It’s a little shy of perfectly fluffy, but you get the idea.

Another 20 seconds and we’re already past the point of no return for dessert topping. The master pastry chef you’re apprenticing with is preparing to garnish your wages.

30 more seconds and we’re really far gone. You can see from the texture that peppercorn-sized “butter grains” are already starting to form.

Not much past that, say 15 more seconds, and the butter grains have formed. You can see buttermilk pooling at the bottom. The “churning” process has done all it’s going to do.

Time now to strain it…

…and get to work kneading. This doesn’t take long, since all you’re really doing is squeezing out any last pockets of buttermilk.

About 30 seconds of this and it’s done, you can see I’ve squeezed out quite a bit more liquid.

And here you have it, as fresh a mound of butter as you’ll find anywhere. Beautifully clean and bright tasting.

Of course as I said, this isn’t quite how it happens in a creamery, but it’s close enough for demonstration. I caution that while I’ll be slathering this across a slice of bread at dinner this evening, I won’t be making laminated dough out of it, since there’s probably too much moisture in it. However I would certainly make a pie or a tart crust with it, and maybe I just will this weekend. I can hear it now: did you make this pie yourself, Joe? Darn right, I even made the butter!

Try this yourself sometime if you can, because it is really a thrill, and one of the many little miracles of the food world. You don’t even need a food processor. A clean mayonnaise jar with a marble inside (plus several kids willing to shake the thing for half an hour) is all it takes.

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