Butter is one of the best things ever. We caught up with the world’s butter experts to find out what makes butter so special, and how you can make your own.
Buying good butter is essential to good cooking. But making your own butter at home doesn’t have to be complicated. Tristan Welch is chef patron at Parker’s Tavern in Cambridge and a man who believes in the restorative power of butter. “Making butter is an absolute art form”, says Tristan, who makes his butter using raw Jersey cow milk he gets down the road from his home in Cambridge. “First up, it’s about the quality of the milk and I’m talking about extra rich, extra creamy milk. The kind of milk where, when you let it settle, the cream and the milk is about 50/50. Next, it’s about managing the level of lactic acid within the butter. that’s where you get that slight hint of acidity at the back of the butter which cuts through the richness and balances it perfectly.”
Tristan suggests that one of the best ways to get that lactic acid level right is by leaving your milk out overnight. Health and safety anoraks might be shocked at such an action but it’s a perfectly safe thing to do. “Once you have managed the level of lactic acid within the creamy milk, put it in a mixer and let it mix until it splits out,” continues Tristan, “what you get is butter and then the start of a buttermilk. Don’t throw that buttermilk away though. Add a touch of yoghurt to it once it’s separated from the butter and that will start to create its own culture within itself and you have free buttermilk.” Who doesn’t like free buttermilk?
If that sounds a bit much (or if you’re a bit wary of leaving your milk on the counter for the night) then you can always have a go at adding some excitement to shop-bought butter. “Tarting up shop-bought butter is really simple,” says Tristan, “take a really good quality unsalted butter, slice it and sprinkle some sea salt flakes over the top – that’s the first simple step that anyone can do – and make sure you serve it at room temperature. Alternatively, serve it freezing cold with hot toast. That’s delicious, too. However, for those who want to take it to the next level, the best spruced up butter I’ve ever had is when a sous chef of mine created a recipe using one whole head of garlic to one pack of butter and one bunch of parsley. It was so rich and so delicious.”
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