When I was in grade school, I remember one of the activities they’d have us do to keep our little hands busy would be to make homemade butter by shaking a mason jar with a marble inside. I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t separate the butter from the buttermilk properly, didn’t season the butter, or both, but I always hated the taste of the result and it put me off making my own butter for years. When I got my hands on some chive blossoms recently, I just KNEW I needed to make a compound butter with it, and wanted to do it from scratch. And boy oh boy am I SO glad I did! Not only is butter INCREDIBLY easy to make (and technically only requires one ingredient), but it’s super satisfying, delicious, and a great opportunity to get fancy with flavors if desired.
What you need to make butter at home
Let’s cut straight to the chase here. Homemade butter is INCREDIBLY easy to make, and only truly requires one ingredient: heavy cream. This recipe is for chive blossom butter because they were in season at the time of writing this, but you can use this recipe as a base for both savory and sweet compound butter flavors. More on that later! Let’s talk tools. You will need ONE of the following tools to make butter at home:
- Hand-crank mason jar butter churn
- Stand mixer
- Electric beaters
- Mason jar with a clean marble inside (and some arm strength!)
For this recipe, I used a hand-crank mason jar butter churn, but a stand mixer is the most practical as it requires the least amount of effort. For all methods, the instructions and stages remain the same, but the timing might be a little different depending on what tools you choose to use (a stand mixer will take less time than a manual method, etc.).
How to make butter from scratch
The process of making butter is very simple: you need to agitate the heavy cream enough that the milk solids (aka butter fat) separate from the liquids (aka buttermilk). Using your tool of choice, beat the heavy cream until it becomes whipped cream, and then keep going! Have you ever over beaten your whipped cream to the point where it is grainy? That’s because the butter fat and liquids have started to separate. In this case, we WANT that to happen, and then some.
Keep beating the cream until there is a distinct separation of yellow fat solids from cream colored liquid. With a manual method, this takes about 8-10 minutes, and with an electric method, takes a bit less time. It might feel like nothing is happening for a while, but once you are at the point of making whipped cream, everything goes very quickly from there.
Once your butter fat and buttermilk are separated from each other, stop churning and strain out the buttermilk. Be sure to save this and use it in other recipes that call for buttermilk!
Take the yellow butter fat and rinse it in a bowl of ice water several times until the water runs clear. Give it a good squeeze and a knead to get it really clean: this will make the butter last much longer in the fridge. Once it’s clean of residual buttermilk, you can add salt if you like, and the flavorings, before wrapping in wax paper and storing in the fridge.
Flavoring compound butters
Part of the beauty of making butter from scratch is that it is truly a blank canvas for whatever flavors your heart desires. When you add flavors or inclusions to butter, it is called a compound butter. In this recipe, we will use flaky salt and finely chopped chives and chive blossoms, but you can just use chives if you are not able to get your hands on the blossoms as well.
Other great savory flavor ideas are:
- Black pepper
- Pink peppercorn
- Aleppo Chile Pepper
- Smoky chipotle
- Sun dried tomato
- Fresh herbs
You can also make sweet compound butters! Simply omit the salt, and try adding a touch of honey for sweetness. Here are some sweet flavor ideas:
- Vanilla bean
- Lemon zest
- Orange zest
- Seasonal berry (using fresh puree)
Tips for making butter
This recipe is very simple and quite foolproof, but it is important to keep an eye on temperature. I recommend letting your cream come to room temp before using (about 70 degrees), because it will whip up faster. If your milk or butter gets too hot, it will be very runny: if this happens, place it in the fridge or freezer for 15 minute intervals until it gets to the appropriate temperature.
How to store this homemade butter
I like to form my compound butters into a log, roll them in some wax paper, and then store them in the fridge. You can also shape them into a rectangle if you prefer. I do recommend keeping this butter in the fridge for longevity, and bringing it to room temp before spreading it on toast. You can also slice it straight from the fridge and use it on meats, fish, or in pasta dishes! This butter lasts about 3 weeks when stored in the fridge.
I hope you give Homemade Chive Blossom Butter a try! Be sure to tag me on instagram so I can see your bakes, and leave me a comment below! Your feedback helps other bakers who are giving this recipe a try, and I love hearing about your bakes!