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How to Make French Butter: Easier Than You Think!

How to Make French Butter with Chef Jean Pierre Hello friends, today I want to share with you the secrets on How to Make French Butter. It’s surprisingly simple and the results? Well let’s just say, it might become your new favorite butter!

This isn’t just any old butter; it’s a rich, creamy delicacy known for its slightly tangy taste and higher fat content.

So, what sets French butter apart from American butter?

French butter is nothing like your average stick butter you find at your local supermarket. It’s cultured, like a fine French cheese, which is why it stands out with its distinctive, slightly tangy taste and a luscious texture that’s simply creamy.

Why European butter (Cultured Butter), particularly French butter, is celebrated worldwide?

French Cow in pastures - The secret to How to Make French Butter It all begins with the cows. In France, cows are primarily grass-fed, which imparts a unique depth of flavor to their milk.

The U.S. standards for butter require a minimum fat content of 80%, while the European standards demand 82-90%. This higher fat content makes Cultured butter richer and creamier. Moreover, the deep yellow hue and the tangy, nutty flavor of the French butter come from the natural diet of the cows and the bacteria in non-pasteurized cream used in Europe. Contrastingly, American creams are pasteurized.

How do you replicate the ingredients necessary in your home kitchen?

Here in America, we don’t have non-pasteurized European milk easily available, so the trick to creating the European flavor and texture lies in adding cultured buttermilk and yogurt to your recipe. These live cultures will help mimic those complex flavors.

Patience is the key to Cultured Butter

The secret to how to make French Butter lies not only in the cultured cream and yogurt but also in patience and precision. This isn’t a speedy process. The good things in life often need time, and trust me, this is a good thing!

The results speak for themselves!

Once you are finished, you’ll be spreading homemade French butter on everything from warm, crusty baguettes to flaky croissants, and even using it in your favorite recipes.

Remember, it’s not just about learning How to Make French Butter, it’s about embracing the love for food that’s at the heart of every good kitchen.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get whisking!

How to make French Butter, also known as Cultured or European Butter

How to Make French Butter

chef jean pierre 200x200 1Chef Jean-Pierre
Hello friends! As you all know, butter holds a special place in my heart. However, when it comes to taste, nothing compares to the exquisite flavor of French Butter! It possesses a distinct and delightful taste that is rare to find in America.
Today, I am excited to share with you how to make French Butter in the comfort of your own home. All you need are a few simple ingredients and, most importantly, a genuine love for BUTTER! Please be sure to leave a comment below and share your homemade French Butter experience. I would love to hear from you!
4.43 from 38 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Ferment Cream / Chill Mixture 1 day 3 hours
Cuisine French

Recipe Video

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 quart of High Fat Cream, preferably 36% or 40% fat content if available
  • 4 tablespoons of Cultured Buttermilk
  • 1 cup of Plain Yogurt with live cultures
  • Salt, to taste (about 1-2% of the butter's weight)

Recipe Instructions

Makes 12 ounces of Butter

    Prepare the Cream:

    • In a bowl, add the heavy cream. The cream should ideally be high-fat (36-40%).
      How to Make French Butter - Prepare the Cream
    • To the cream, add 4 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk. Make sure the buttermilk is labeled as 'cultured'.
    • Add 1 cup of plain yogurt to the bowl. It should also be cultured.
      How to Make French Butter - Add 1 cup of plain yogurt
    • Mix all the ingredients well and cover the bowl.
    • Leave the mixture at room temperature for 24-48 hours. This allows the cultures to ferment the cream.

    Chill the Mixture:

    • After the cream mixture has cultured at room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill it for at least 2 to 3 hours, along with the whisk and bowl you'll be using for the next step. 
    • This ensures that everything is cold which is required for making butter.

    Whipping the Chilled Cream Mixture:

    • Remove the cream mixture from the refrigerator and start to whisk it in your mixer or food processor. Begin at a slow speed due to the thickness of the mixture.
      How to Make French Butter - start to whisk
    • Continue to whip the mixture until it turns into a thick whipped cream. Remember to clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally to ensure all of the mixture gets whipped.

    Forming the Butter:

    • Once the whipped cream begins to separate and form lumps (this indicates the butter is forming), switch from a whisk to a paddle attachment or spatula, if possible.
      How to Make French Butter - whipped cream begins to separate and form lumps
    • You'll have to be a bit careful in this stage to prevent buttermilk from splattering. Do this on slow speed.
      How to Make French Butter - switch from a whisk to a paddle attachment
    • Stop when the butter forms a large block and has released the buttermilk.
      How to Make French Butter - Separation of the Buttermilk

    Rinse the Butter:

    • Remove the butter from the bowl and place it in a colander.
      How to Make French Butter - pour into colander
    • Over the colander, press the butter together to remove as much buttermilk as possible. 
      How to Make French Butter - press the butter together to remove buttermilk
    • The buttermilk will drain away through the colander. This is important as the leftover buttermilk can make your butter go bad quickly.
    • Transfer the butter to a bowl of ice water and knead it like dough. This helps to wash out the remaining buttermilk. The water will become milky.
      How to Make French Butter - Transfer butter to bowl of ice water
    • Repeat this washing process two or three times until the water remains clear.

    Salt the Butter:

    • If you want to add salt to your butter, calculate it based on the grams of the butter. For example, for 350 grams (12 oz) of butter, use about 3.5 grams of salt.
      How to Make French Butter - add salt to your butter
    • While mixing the salt into the butter, any residual buttermilk will be squeezed out. Remove this as well.
      How to Make French Butter - mix salt into your butter
    • After mixing the salt, give the butter a final rinse in cold water.

    Final Steps - Form and Store the Butter:

    • Pat your butter dry and shape it however you like. You can even cut it into small pieces or form it into a log.
      How to Make French Butter - Form your butter into desired shape
    • Your homemade cultured French butter is ready to use! It can be used right away, stored in the fridge, or even frozen for later use.
    • Enjoy the delicious homemade butter with a distinct European flavor that you won't find in store-bought versions. You can use it in your cooking, spread it on your favorite bread, or even add it to a freshly baked croissant!

    12 Frequently Asked Questions About French Butter

    1. What makes French butter different from other types of butter?

    French butter generally has a higher fat content (82-84%) compared to American butter (80%), which leads to a richer taste and creamier texture. It’s also typically made from cultured cream, providing it with a distinctive tangy flavor.

    2. What is the significance of the high-fat content in French butter?

    The higher fat content in French butter allows for a creamier, richer taste and texture. It can also lead to better results in baking, as less water content can result in flakier pastries and lighter cakes.

    3. Why is French butter sometimes more yellow than other types of butter?

    The yellow color in French butter is often due to the cows’ diet. If they are grass-fed, they absorb beta-carotene from the grass, which is then stored in their fat and gives the butter its yellow color.

    4. Is French butter always salted?

    No, French butter comes in both salted and unsalted varieties. The type you use depends on personal taste and the recipe you’re following.

    5. What is cultured butter, which is often associated with French butter?

    Cultured butter is made from cream that is fermented with bacteria before it is churned. This fermentation process adds a tangy flavor to the butter that is characteristic of many French butters.

    6. Why is French butter considered good for baking?

    The higher fat content and lower water content in French butter can improve the texture of baked goods, making them flakier and lighter. It also has a rich, distinct flavor that can enhance the overall taste of pastries and other baked goods.

    7. How is French butter made?

    French butter is made by fermenting cream with bacteria to create cultured cream. This cream is then churned to separate the butterfat and buttermilk. The butterfat is gathered and worked to remove as much buttermilk as possible, then shaped and packaged.

    8. What are the nutritional values of French butter?

    Like all butter, French butter is high in fat and calories. However, it also contains Vitamin A, due to the beta-carotene in the grass that dairy cows eat. The exact nutritional values can vary depending on specific brands and whether the butter is salted or unsalted.

    9. Is there a specific way to store French butter?

    French butter should be stored in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. If it’s unsalted, it should be consumed within a few weeks as it has a shorter shelf life than salted butter. Butter can also be frozen for long-term storage.

    10. Why is French butter sometimes more expensive than regular butter?

    French butter is often more expensive due to its production process. It’s typically made from high-quality cream, and the fermentation and churning processes are more labor-intensive. Also, import costs can add to the price if you’re buying it outside of France.

    11. Can I substitute regular butter for French butter in recipes?

    Yes, you can substitute regular butter for French butter in most recipes. However, you may notice a difference in taste and texture, especially in recipes where butter is a primary ingredient, due to the higher fat content and distinct flavor of French butter.

    12. Is there a difference in taste and healthiness between clarified butter made from French butter and that made of American butter?

    Yes, there can be a difference in both taste and nutritional aspects between clarified butter made from French butter and that made from American butter.

    Taste: Clarified butter is essentially pure butterfat, with the water and milk solids removed. Since French butter typically starts with a higher fat content and often has a distinctive, rich, and slightly tangy flavor due to the culturing process, clarified butter made from French butter may retain some of this deeper, richer flavor. American butter, on the other hand, might yield a more neutral-tasting clarified butter due to its milder flavor to begin with.

    Healthiness: In terms of nutritional values, both will be very similar since clarified butter from either source is essentially pure milk fat. They’re both high in calories and saturated fats, with little to no carbohydrates or protein.

    However, if the cows that produced the French butter were grass-fed, the resulting clarified butter could contain higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin K2, compared to butter from grain-fed cows, which is more common in the U.S. These nutrients have various health benefits, like reducing body fat, improving heart health, and supporting bone health.

    It’s important to note that while these differences exist, they may not be substantial enough to significantly impact your health, particularly if butter is consumed as part of a balanced diet. It’s also worth noting that individual taste preferences and dietary needs may dictate which type of butter, and therefore which type of clarified butter, is best for you.

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