Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How To Make Butter

On 11/23/10, I saw this email in my inbox:


Good Morning –


As part of our procedural writing lessons, we have discussed recipes. This morning, we are putting our recipe reading into action by making butter. This delicious creation will then be eaten on homemade corn muffins, similar to the biscuits that may have been served at that the very first Thanksgiving in 1621. This is a nice way to bring different aspects of the curriculum together….and it’s tasty, too! I have attached the recipe for butter that we are going to be following this morning in case you would like to try it at home.


Mrs. Q


Attached was a step by step, set of instructions telling us how they planned to make butter in the class that day.

After the teacher shared her butter recipe with us - the parents, I was inspired to share my age-old Indian butter recipe with her. In most Indian homes yogurt (curd) and butter is made in-house. Yogurt, almost every other day and butter, once a week or once a fortnight depending on how much milk is consumed by the family. Every night or every other night, after the family has had their dinner, an Indian housewife - before she turns the lights out in the kitchen for the night - will set yogurt for the next day.

Since in most parts of India, most days of the year are hot and humid, making yogurt at home is a no -brainer. It doesn't take much time and effort and the result is consistent - in the sense that there is no frustration involved of getting up in the morning and finding out that for whatever reason the yogurt did not get set overnight; as it sometimes happens to me when I try to make it in my NYC kitchen.

Over there, all you need to do is reheat the milk to about luke warm temperature- milk needs to be warm but not hot (it always helps to boil the milk for a couple of minutes and let it cool down to the desired temperature). Add half a tea spoon of yogurt culture. Stir and mix well. Set aside. In summer, yogurt will get set in a couple of hours...In winter it takes a little longer.

In the India that I grew up in, when a family returned home from an extended vacation and found out that there was no yogurt culture left in the fridge to make fresh yogurt, a spoonful of culture would be borrowed from the neighbor's to restart the cycle. And the neighbors would do the same. I don't think anyone does that anymore. Now, it's probably easier to just go to the super market and buy ready-made yogurt.

One of the things that I look forward to doing when I go back home is making my own butter. Buffalo milk is more commonly consumed in India than cow's milk. It must have a high fat content because when you boil it and let it cool down in the fridge, a thick layer of creme will form on top. To make butter, you have to remove that creme into a container, mix in a spoonful of yogurt culture and store the mixture in the fridge. You can keep adding fresh creme to that mixture for a week or two. When you are ready to make butter, let the mixture sit outside of the fridge, overnight. Next morning, it is ready to be churned. Take an old fashioned churner and churn for 10 to 15 minutes and a big glob of butter will begin to form. Separate the butter milk from the butter.



                                                                                          Indian Churner


Indian homes use clarified butter (ghee) for making  sweets, so we take this recipe a step further and boil the butter till it becomes clear and a brownish residue is left at the bottom of the pot. Strain the clarified butter and store it in a jar. It has a long shelf life even outside of the fridge. Some prefer to add a pinch of salt while the butter is boiling - they say it helps the ghee last longer and improves its texture.

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