Expose yourself to culture

Cultured butter

The Telegraph recently proclaimed that butter is "suddenly back in fashion," but for many of us butter never went out of style. Rich, creamy, and decadently delicious, butter has always been an essential ingredient in pastries, cakes and sauces, as well as being our preferred spread for bread, scones, and more.

Most of the butter sold outside of continental Europe is "sweet cream" butter, meaning it is made with fresh, uncultured cream. However, the popularity of cultured butter, which is made from fermented cream, is growing worldwide. The culturing process adds another layer of flavor to an already luxurious creation.

For our forefathers, cultured butter was the norm. Fresh milk sat undisturbed overnight so the cream could rise to the top, where it was then skimmed off the milk. To get enough cream to make butter, several days' worth of cream was collected before churning, allowing naturally-occurring bacteria to convert some of the milk sugars into lactic acid and other compounds. This added a tang to the butter. Once milk began to be pasteurized, these bacteria were no longer present, leading to the "sweet cream" butter most common today. Cultured butter is now usually made in a manner similar to yogurt: active cultures are added to pasteurized cream, which is allowed to ferment for a short period of time (generally 12-24 hours). The cultured cream is then churned into butter.

Cultured butter used to be difficult to find in supermarkets, although that is changing. But even if cultured butter isn't available at your local market, you can easily make it at home, as The Kitchn demonstrates. Once you've made your own cultured butter, you can then learn how to make a beurre blanc with it.

The links to these tutorials are part of a great new feature at Eat Your Books. We've created a new feature that gives you access to 689 (and counting!) online how-to demonstrations, including how to carve a duck, how to make homemade ricotta, how to make marshmallow fluff, and how to prepare and cook artichokes. Select tutorials from cookbooks are indexed as well.  And even better, 119 of the tutorials have videos.

To browse all of the how-to links, go to the Eat Your Books Recipes Library. Then, on the Filter By sidebar, click on Recipe Types, choose Misc., then click the plus sign next to How-to. Click the box next to Online Recipes in the Show Only sidebar to limit the search to online sources. You can also perform a search first, then narrow the results to the tutorials following the same directions.

As to the cultured butter, I skipped the beurre blanc and slathered the butter directly onto a warm baguette slice. Mmmmmmm.

Photo by Darcie Boschee

2 Comments

  • anightowl  on  2/19/2014 at 7:50 PM

    I saw the "how to..." option while indexing today, and thought...hmmm was that there before? I'm so glad it's new - I thought maybe I wasn't paying attention before (a scary thought when indexing). Momentary panic aside, it's a great new feature - I have already bookmarked a couple of the how-to's to use later.

  • ellabee  on  2/20/2014 at 1:24 PM

    Great new filter! Thanks. EYB is becoming a more and more powerful way to organize all the cooking info that's out there.

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