Friday, 25 July 2014


I make butter in large quantities, usually converting 8 to 10 litres of double cream in one session.   For years I have used my KitchenAid(KA), and have worked out a production line to do it efficiently.

The downsides are that is a bit messy - when the butter forms, the buttermilk sloshes out of the bowl - and it's hard to get butter off the beaters.  We've partiallly solved the messiness, by adapting a Kitchen Aid bowl lid to fit on the machine whilst the beater is in use.

I'd heard that Thermy could be used for buttermaking.  I wasn't convinced.  Vitamix also make that claim and, yes, you can get butter - but it's hard to get it out of the container, and a lot of it gets stuck around the blade.

I decided to try a comparison test today.

It's not ideal conditions. It's very hot outside, and this always makes the process more difficult.  My measurements are also not scientific, I didn't clean the bowls completely in between times etc.

TEST1: Follow the the Thermy Recipe.

Maximum 1 litre (I put 1.5 litres in my KA normally, so even if this works it's going to mean 10 runs instead of 6).

The speed that the TM book said was quite fast. I'm already anticipating failure.  Butter making isn't about fast, you need the butterfat molecules to gently bang together and combine to make butter. Too fast and you end up with nothing more than whipped cream.

After some time, sorry didn't measure how long, I was stuck with whipped cream.

I scraped down and carried on.  Eventually, it turned into butter and buttermilk.  I poured off the buttermilk and put the butter back on again for a few secs (to spin more buttermilk out), drained, repeated.

The butter looked OK, good so far.  And it didn't splash everywhere.

Now,  the TM handbook also says you can wash the butter.  I normally do this in a colander and with a running cold water tap.   I followed the TM instructions. I measured in about 500ml of water, spun it, drained it. Repeated, until the water was clearish.

By this time my butter was rather runny.  This could be the heat,  or it could be the beating has whipped it full of air,  or it could be it incorporated water.   I didn't measure the waste water, so I can't tell.

Preliminary Results:
271ml Buttermilk
697g Butter, which is white and very soft

Initial Conclusion:
Not enough buttermilk extracted.  If I was using the butter immediately, it would be OK. But if I intend to keep it for a couple of days, it will go rancid very quickly 

Control Test - KA
One litre of milk, to match the others.  This also took quite some time to turn, more than normal,  so I guess the ambient temperature (it being a baking hot day) is a factor here.

Preliminary Results:
332ml Buttermilk
557g Butter, which is yellow and quite firm

Test 2: Use the whisk.
Expectation: This will fail.  I once tried to do this in my Magimix food processor (I swapped that for another brand last year).  I bent the egg whisk,  I could see this being similar.  However, the whisk is a bit more robust.

One litre of cream, speed 4.   This turned into butter very quickly.  I drained the buttermilk, and put it bac on for another spin.  The whisk couldn't move. (I'm not surprised).  I took the whisk out and carried on without.

Preliminary Results:
258ml Buttermilk
884g Butter, which is white and very thin.

Initial Conclusions:
Not enough buttermilk extracted,.  If I was using the butter immediately, it would be OK. But if I intend to keep it for a couple of days, it will go rancil very quickly  

This looked much better after the first spin than the "Test 1" version. If the whisk had been stronger (more like a beater) then this probably would have been more successful

Test 3 - Follow TM recipe, but wash manually

Preliminary Results:
180ml Buttermilk
750g Butter

This result - the worst of all so far - was possibly accidentally sabotaged by me trying to use the spatula to help churn.

Test 4 - Use TM, no whisk, but mix only at speed 4.  For washing, use reverse blade at low speed
This initially looked really promising. The butter was slower to churn than using the whisk, but it was the same golden colour intially.

This time I measured the water that I put in for washing, and the water I drained off.

Preliminary Results:
295ml Buttermilk
680g Butter

1550ml water used to wash butter, 1432ml recovered.

This is the most promising version.  My water recovery was OK for the first and second spins, it went wrong in the third spin.

I need to work on this option some more. Good job I have 10 litres of cream. 

Test 4 - Use TM, no whisk,  mix only at speed 4, wash by hand

Preliminary Results:
290ml Buttermilk
736g Butter

Butter is still pale, but much firmer than previous attempts

Test 5 - Use TM, no whisk,  mix only at speed 4, drain, mix again on reverse at low speed to eject more buttermilk, then wash by machine using reverse blade at low speed

Preliminary Results:
320ml Buttermilk
675g Butter

Annoyingly I managed to spill the measured water everywhere so I have no idea how effective it was. However, I can see from the final weight that a good amount of water had been ejected.

Butter after the extraction was a good colour and relatively firm.  It was softer and paler after washing.

Test 6 - Repeat test 5, but then wash by hand
679g butter

Test 7 - TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain, a second, drain, second, drain, wash by hand
This was going well, but I couldn't resist putting in a fast flick - this resulted in the expelled buttermilk being re-absobed.
Preliminary Results:
280 ml Buttermilk
690g Butter

 Test 8 - lower speed
Hopeless. After 4 minutes I didn't even have whipped cream.  I had to rescue it.

Test 9, TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain,  quick flick at 4, drain, quick flick at 4, drain,  wash at low speed on reverse

Test 10, TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain,  quick flick at 4, drain, quick flick at 4, drain,  wash by hand

Tests 9 and 10 worked well, sadly I threw away the bit of paper with the measurements on.  One of them expelled 330ml of buttermilk. Test 10 also expelled almost all of the washing water.

Salting the Butter

I tried using Thermy to salt the butter.  I had mixed success - in fact, I won't know whether some of the attempts worked until  I try the butter.

What I've learned is:
  • It works best with no more than 500g of butter in. Anymore and it has trouble blending it properly
  • Mix on about 4 for a bit, then a quick final spin at a fast speed

Garlic Butter
I peeled some Garlic in the thermy, then chopped garlic, thyme and a bit of sage together, then mixed in some unsalted butter.  I put iy into a silicone ice cube mould to freeze

With all the faffing about, measuring, weighing etc, it took forever.  I also made more mess than I've ever made before making butter.

I will try the Thermy again next time, and I'll stick to:
  • 1 litre
  • Speed 4
  • Drain, 2 sec speed 4, drain, 2 sec speed 4, drain, etc
  • Not sure whether I'll use Thermy to wash or wash by hand.
A production line might be more efficient where I use the KA to salt the butter.  I can easily put 1 to 1.5 kg in yje KA bowl, so I could be salting and potting while Thermy continued to churn.

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