Photo by Julia Skinner
If you find yourself with some leftover scraps from a fermentation project, this is a fun way to use them. I’ve used peppers and other scraps from making vinegars, as well as the vinegars themselves. (Try banana vinegar in butter sometime!) You can also play with fruits you strain out of batches of mead, as well as rinds or chunks of cheese. The scraps you use will, to varying extents, transfer their flavors to the butter and buttermilk, making this an incredibly fun way to deepen and diversify the flavors in a dish. Hands down, my favorite is butter cultured with blue cheese — a trick I learned from Sean Doherty, a fantastic chef and fermenter in Maine.
Fermentation Type: Lacto
Primary Fermentation: 12 hours
Total time: 12 hours
Shelf life: 1 week for buttermilk ,2 weeks for butter
Yield: about 2 cups butter and 2 cups buttermilk.
- 1 quart heavy whipping cream
- Starter culture made from vinegar-making scraps, cheese, yogurt, etc. (I usually use 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid and 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of solids.)
- Salt or sugar (optional)
- In a medium-sized nonreactive bowl, combine the cream and the starter culture, mixing until well-combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and let it sit at room temperature overnight.
- The next morning, strain out any food scraps from the cream. Taste the cream, and add any desired salt or sugar.
- Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and turn to medium-low speed. Whip the cream until it breaks, scraping the bowl occasionally with a spatula. Once it breaks, you’ll be left with chunks of butter in a pool of buttermilk. The exact amount of each will depend on the fat content of the cream you use.
- Strain the butter from the buttermilk, and set the buttermilk aside.
- Knead the butter under cold water until the water runs clear. This will remove excess buttermilk and keep your butter fresh longer. Squeeze any excess water out of the butter. Store the butter and buttermilk in separate containers in the refrigerator. The buttermilk will stay fresh for 1 week, and the butter should be used within 2 weeks.
Check out more recipes to reduce food waste here!
Julia Skinner, Ph.D, is the director of Root, an Atlanta-based food history and fermentation organization. She’s also a food writer, artist, and avid fermenter. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @BookishJulia.