Friday, January 9, 2009

But why is it Yellow?

The homesteading community is full of wonderful people doing amazing things when it comes to becoming less dependent on the behemoths of food producers that care not a wit about our health and well-being. These gals (and their families) have inspired me to try things I would never have considered just a year ago ...slaughtering chickens comes to mind :0 <----does anyone know a better 'eek' face?

Anyhoo, yesterday I made butter...yes butter. Why, you may ask, would you decide to make butter? Well, I'll tell you. I was making a wonderful pumpkin cranberry bread to use up an acorn squash I had sitting on the counter (for about 2 weeks) and in the middle of putting together the fairly long list of ingredients (and because I had not read the recipe before I started) I discovered that the recipe called for buttermilk. Rather than go to all the trouble of driving to the grocery store (not to mention having to get out of my comfy sweats and run a brush thru my hair) I remembered a recent article on the wonderful blog Urban Hennery where she had made butter at home using a recipe from One Green generation. In making said butter the liquid that ends up separating out of the solid butter is buttermilk (and I thought that buttermilk was soured milk....don't judge me). Even if you're not interested in the whole butter making experiment, at least check out these blogs, they are both great resources for all things sustainable....not to mention the amazing photographs (she says without any jealousy) (well, hardly any).

So, I got buttermilk for my bread (which turned out quite good thank-you) and absolutely delicious butter. As far doing this on a regular basis, we probably wouldn't, at least not from store bought cream. A pint of cream yielded 1 cup butter and 1 cup buttermilk (approx). So I did the math....and I went with the prices of non-organic because we can't get organic cream and buttermilk....just butter (I am in the process of finding sources for both). I figure the prices of all three would be higher (I know the organic butter is) but would still be about the same comparatively.

Pint of cream ............$3.50

1 cup butter ...........$2.00 ($4.00 lb.)
1 cup buttermilk ..................$ .45 ($1.80 quart divided by 4)

So.......$3.50 of cream yielded $2.45 worth of butter and buttermilk

No real financial reason to make my own huh?

But it was fun, and weirdly enough....very empowering. Not sure why, but being able to make something that is a staple in our house (and right up there with chocolate in the must have department) is such a thrill. Maybe because I started to realize that we can do this...we can wean ourselves from some of the foods that we depend on others to produce. Now if I can only find the space to house a cow.....

And to answer my own question.... I always assumed butter was yellow because dyes are added (which is sometimes true but obviously I didn't add anything and had started out with white cream)

I did a little research and found this on Yahoo answers...

When milk is processed into butter, the butter cream separates from the watery liquid (which is actually sold as skim milk). the butter cream contains all the fat which has a high concentration of vitamin A. Vitamin A has a natural yellowish tint. When churned, it is oxidized and aerated, and turns even yellower and another separation occurs when the fat lumps and the butter milk (sold as, you guessed it "buttermilk) is squeezed out. how do I know this? I grew up in a dairy farm in Wisconsin:)

Apparantly, dye is added to some butters because they do end up being fairly white and others to make them even darker....yet another reason to check labels.


Julie said...

Cool! So you make pumpkin cranberry bread with acorn squash?

Maureen said...

And butternut...I've made pumpkin pies out of both :)

Mike said...

We read your list of stuff you want to do in 2009. Naoko says it sounds like you're becoming Amish. She loves their way of life. Even wants to live with them for a week and wear their clothes. She's anxious to start her garden and all that in the spring, but stops at the home butchering. Hope it all works out for you guys. Let us know if you want an outfit sent. :-)

Maureen said...

Do they come in Lime green?

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Yeah, I've wondered about the emphasis on making your own butter for that exact reason. I've done it for fun with the kids, and obviously if I owned my own I would! But otherwise, it's just not practical. Glad you got your buttermilk, though! :)