I totally know your pain. You got that cream on sale and you were stoked that you’d be able to make some decadent treat with it, but now it’s sitting in the fridge, well past its best before date, and starting to separate. “How could I let this happen?” you ask yourself, a single tear rolling down your cheek…
OK fine, not everyone cries over food waste like I do, but it’s still uber sad, you’ve got to admit. But never fear! You don’t have to toss that cream. It has life in it yet!
Turn it into butter—or rather, churn it into butter! Ahem. OK fine, I’ll knock it off…
Did you know that for centuries, we’ve used cream that was past its prime to make butter? In fact, some folks purposely culture (ie. add bacteria to ferment) their butter to make it more tangy, and this kind of butter fetches a premium price!
The cream we’re talking about in today’s recipe may or may not be “culturing material” because some cream is pasteurized. Pasteurized milk and cream doesn’t sour in the way unpasteurized milk and cream does. Basically, when you pasteurize dairy, you’re removing bacteria. But some of the naturally-occurring bacteria is totally harmless and will naturally sour your milk or cream. (This is essentially how humans discovered cheese!) Once you’ve pasteurized dairy, it doesn’t have the good bacteria it needs to naturally and harmlessly ferment, but companies pasteurize it because it lengthens the shelf life of these products.
For this reason, pasteurized milk and cream need to be treated carefully. If your cream still smells fine and is just starting to separate slightly, it’s likely totally safe to make this recipe. And if your cream is raw, rather than pasteurized, it’s OK if it smells a little sour because it’s just naturally cultured. In fact, your butter may taste even better! It’s really just pasteurized cream you need to be careful with. So to reiterate:
Raw cream: safe to use in this recipe even if it smells a bit sour.
Pasteurized cream: only use if it still smells fine, but it’s past its date.
And in any case, if your cream is fully curdled and separating into nasty chunks, or if there is visible mold, just throw that cream out! I know we’re trying to avoid food waste here, but that’s just food poisoning waiting to happen! No chunky or moldy cream, ever! Got it? Good. 🙂
If you want to be extra safe, don’t use this butter raw. Use it to make delicious baked treats or to sauté some fresh veggies as a side dish!
Let’s get to the recipe/procedure, yeah?
How to make homemade butter from expired cream
Yields about 1/3 butter (to keep) and 2/3 whey (to discard)
Expired whipping cream (called heavy cream sometimes)
Electric mixer or food processor
Place the cream into the mixer or food processor and beat vigorously. You will see the cream go through various stages. First, it will likely whip up like whipped cream, and then it’ll become dense and fall a bit. Over time, it will finally begin to separate and you’ll see that the fat solids are clumping together into a butter-like substance and the whey has separated off. This is what you want! At this point, you basically just need to separate the butter and whey and you’ve got homemade butter! Be sure to rinse the whey off of the solids so it doesn’t taste sour. If desired, you can mix in salt to taste (usually I use about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup of finished butter). Refrigerate until ready to use, then take the butter out to soften before baking or cooking with it.
It’s really that easy to have amazing, fresh butter to use. What’s your favourite dish to use butter in?