About This Recipe
Like so many other Indian families, we would heat our milk and collect the malai or cream from the top to store in the fridge. When enough was stocked up, this cream would be churned into butter. It’s a fairly easy process, and to this day, my folks still make this simple white butter at home. I’ll show you how easy it is to make not just butter and ghee at home, but also how just one extra fermentation step can enhance these ingredients, fortifying them with healthful bacteria for the immune system. Cultured butter and ghee are made from cultured or fermented cream, whereas uncultured butter and ghee are made from what is called “sweet” cream.
Tools & equipment: Food processor, mixer-blender, electric hand-beater, or immersion blender.
Note: Butter is often tinted yellow — the turmeric in this recipe achieves a similar color, while the piperine from pepper enhances its health benefits. Both can be left out. This recipe makes 300 g butter, which can be rendered into 250 ml ghee if desired.
- 1 pint (500 ml) heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp fresh dahi, yogurt or kefir with live, active cultures
- 1-inch-long fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced (optional)
- 6 black peppercorns (optional)
- 1 to 1 ½ cups ice water
- ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt (optional)
Step 1To culture the cream: Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and gently whisk in the dahi or yogurt. Pour this mixture into a jar along with the turmeric and black pepper (if using) and place the lid on top. Let it set for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. The amount of time it takes to culture depends on climate and other factors. The cream is ready when it has thickened slightly, and is a little foamy. It will smell slightly sour and tangy.
Step 2Once the cream is cultured, pour it into a blender jar or food processor, straining out the turmeric and peppercorns. (If using a hand-beater or immersion blender, pour it into a mixing bowl.) Start to beat the cream on medium speed. The cream transforms to a whipped cream consistency, and gradually become grainy in 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 3Keep whipping until the solid mass (butter) and liquid (buttermilk) are separated. This will take roughly 5 minutes, depending on your blender.
Step 4Strain out the buttermilk and place the butter in a mixing bowl with ½ a cup of ice water. Using a spatula, start massaging the butter to remove all the excess buttermilk. Drain and repeat 1 or 2 more times till the water is clear.
Step 5To season the butter: Skip this step if making ghee. Knead in salt (if using) to taste. Pack the butter into a jar or roll it into a log using parchment paper. The butter will last in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks, or it can be frozen for several months.
Step 6To make ghee: Place the unseasoned butter in a saucepan and heat on medium-low. The butter will melt and become frothy. Allow the butter to cook at a low temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk solids from the sticking to the bottom and burning, until the liquid turns clear, and the solid flecks are a light, golden brown. Turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool down.
Step 7Strain the liquid ghee, separating out the solids. Store the ghee in a jar at room temperature in a cool, dark place, or refrigerate it for better shelf-life.
Substitute: Use fine sea salt instead of Himalayan pink salt.
Level Up: Make Green Chile & Coriander Compound Butter.
Zero-Waste: Drink the buttermilk or use it to inoculate other ferments, like Fermented Green Chutney. You can use the milk solids from making ghee as a condiment — spread on toast, have them with flatbread, or add them to other dishes such as energy bars/balls for a nutty taste.