I visited Ole’ Remus over at The Woodpile Report and found a recipe for canning butter. Now I know butter freezes just fine but I am, as much as possible, trying to get away from relying on my freezer. The northeast ice storm over Christmas left most of my town without power for the better part of a week. It was a real wake up call about just how much we rely on that pesky grid. I have been gradually working toward canning, drying, salting, cold storage and lacto fermentation for preserving what I grow and forage but fats were a problem. You need them for calories, nutrition and to make things taste good but they have a limited shelf life so I was delighted to find the directions.
The first step was to find both an inexpensive and local source of butter. I put the word out and the brother of a friend offered to get me 36 pounds wholesale. The deal was struck and the butter arrived a couple of days ago.
The process is pretty straight forward.
Slowly melt the butter over low heat. The recipe is for 11 pounds and that just fit in an 8 quart pot. While the butter is melting, wash a dozen pint canning jars and set in the oven in a pan of barely simmering water. Put the jar lids and rings in a pot of simmering water, turn off the heat under them and keep them hot until you need them.
Keep stirring the butter as it melts. Foam will start to rise. I needed to raise the heat a bit at this point because you need the butter to come to a boil. Once it does, reduce the heat and keep the butter at a strong simmer for 7 minutes. Remove form the heat and ladle into hot jars. The trickiest part was wiping the jar rims. They get pretty greasy. Top with lids and rings. Be careful when you handle the jars. They are, of course, really hot. Now comes the fun part. Every couple of minutes you need to shake the jars or else the butter will stratify into 3 distinct layers. This is hard at first because the jars are so hot. I used some fancy rubber gloves I got for cheese making and that worked well. Just be careful to wipe the jars well because they are pretty slippery. After a bit, the jars are cooler and easier to handle. When they have cooled to just above room temperature, put the jars in the refridgerator and keep on shaking every couple of minutes. All of the sudden, the stuff sets up and you are done.
A couple of notes. Some of the jars lids took about 20 minutes to ping. I was just about ready to get out my canner, thinking they weren’t going to seal when they finally did. I used a white flour sack towel to wipe the jars and I don’t think the grease stains will come out. Not a big deal but I would be careful to wear an apron or clothes you don’t care about. I had some butter left over that wouldn’t fit in the jars and we have used ot today. It’s pretty good-maybe a bit gritty before it melts.
I will can another batch today but I am going to get Bruce to help. I think it would be easier if one person stirred while another ladeled. I love learning how to do stuff like this. When the cow dries up, I will probably miss butter as much as drinking milk, more even because I bake so much. My goal will be to have 50 pints of butter put up. Now I just need to get Bruce to put another set of shelves in the basement and stock on cholesterol medicine.