Give the Finger to the Butter Cartel: Churn Your Own In Just 5 Minutes!

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Flickr user cafemama
This past weekend, I was at my local Albertsons, an unremodeled throwback to the charmless 1980s that's located in a not-particularly-fancy part of town and sells a not-particularly-fancy array of products. Gelsons in some fancy South County suburb this is most certainly not.

I went to get a dozen eggs, and it had a coupon attached, advertising that I could get 55 cents off a package of butter that carried the "Real California Milk" seal. Out of curiosity, I looked over to see how much a pound of butter would be with the coupon, and this is what I saw:

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This is unacceptable. This is BOLLOCKS. There is absolutely no reason in the world for a pound of butter to cost $8.19. This is the same store where a gallon of milk was $4.99. What on earth is going on here?

A pint of non-ultra-pasteurised whipping cream costs $1.99; two of them will set you back $3.98 and make close to a pound of butter . . . in about five minutes.

To make butter, you will need a mixer (either a hand mixer or a stand mixer), a big bowl in either glass or metal, and a large, clean T-shirt-type rag. You'll also need some plastic and foil wrap.

Put the cream in the bowl and start whipping, slowly at first. As it thickens into whipped cream, put the spurs to the machine--turn it all the way up. Cover the bowl with a towel, though--the cream will get thicker and thicker, and all at once, it will clot into butter and send buttermilk splashing all over your kitchen.

Turn the mixer down and make sure there's nothing left that looks like thick cream (there shouldn't be). Scoop out the butter and put in the (already probably soaked) rag. Squeeze the butter over the bowl, in order to catch the buttermilk you're squeezing out. Once it's stopped running buttermilk, take the rag over to the sink and massage the rag and butter under a thin stream of running water to get out any further buttermilk. Wrap the butter in plastic, then in foil (to keep out funky fridge odors), and use or freeze within two weeks.

Incidentally, if you want salted butter, you can either whip in half a teaspoon of fine salt (not iodized, though--you'll taste the iodine in it) at the start, or massage it into the finished butter at the end.

Huge props to Project Small for reminding me about this chore of my childhood; visit for a lesson on how to make that French- or Danish-style butter that costs more than $10 per pound, and save the money for things where higher prices might indicate quality. One note: While the Project Small recipe calls for culturing solution (available at places such as Mother's Market), using commercial buttermilk or plain, unsweetened yogurt will work; use a generous half-cup per quart of cream.

Even uncultured, the taste of butter you whip yourself is leagues beyond what $8.19 will buy you at the Albertsons on State College and South Street.

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10 comments
Bill T.
Bill T.

My local Mom and Pop's sells butter for about $3.60/lb. It's located in a remote area so you know their low volume purchases and distance would add to their costs, I don't shop Albertson's anymore. What's funny is they make the BEST fresh-grind pork sausage and they've never eaten it, being Muslim, absolutely cracks me up.

Max Morales
Max Morales

Maybe that's why Albertsons calls it "LOL" on the price tag. Should be "LOL Sucka'," because a pound of Land O Lakes costs just under $5 at Stater Bros. currently -- about 50-cents off regular price and nearly 40% less than at Albertsons. By the way, did you ask them if the price was a mistake?

digkv
digkv

Trader Joe's still has some decently priced butter that tastes ok, but not necessarily great.  I can't believe that Albertsons sells Land-o-lakes at that price, you can get a pound of Plugra for a much better price at TJs also.  

guest
guest

Blame the high cost of fuel for the price of milk!  The government also sets a minimum price that milk can be sold at.

Joe
Joe

Why do you shop there?  There are much better prices elsewhere.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

I'll buy some of that butter from you for $5 a pound

Jeff Overley
Jeff Overley

What about a mason jar and clothespin? Haven't done that since second grade so can't recall how edible it turned out.

DanGarion
DanGarion

You can get Plugra at Albertsons.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

That would work too—a pinch of salt and some cream in a jar with a clothespin—but it would take a heck of a lot longer than five minutes.

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