Most chefs don’t even consider the option of making their own butter. But as Daniel Patterson of San Francisco’s Coi Restaurant discovered when a cheesemaker friend revealed her recipe for fresh, homemade curds, the process is far less difficult than a lot of other daily kitchen tasks. He writes in this week’s New York Times Magazine (registration required):

As she explained how she made her butter, which had assumed a mystical quality in my mind, I felt my face flush: it is one of the easiest, most low-tech cooking processes ever invented. Beat cream until it curdles, expel liquid and presto: butter. What was I doing making warm, jellied consommé when I didn’t even know how to make butter?

The beating takes about five to seven minutes with an electric mixer, Patterson says; just make sure to cover the mouth of the bowl with plastic wrap once you’ve stuck your whisk in, “or it will look as if a milk truck exploded in your kitchen.” Once the curds are formed, drain and save the liquid (homemade buttermilk is another great pleasure, Patterson notes); knead the protobutter until the rest of the milk is expelled, and voilà! Your life will never be the same again.

Patterson recommends an electric stand mixer, but if you still haven’t gotten around to buying one of those (like yours truly), Melissa at the Traveler’s Lunchbox says a hand-held electric beater or even a plain ol’ whisk will do just fine. And she ups the ante with a recipe for cultured butter, which just requires the addition of a little yogurt, crème fraîche, or store-bought buttermilk to the cream the night before you churn.

And we’ve been going through so much butter around these parts lately that a little DIY project sounds like the perfect solution. As Melissa puts it, with her recipe you can have cultured butter “at a cost so low you will be able to slather it on not only your toast every morning, but each and every one of your fingers too, and you’ll still be able to pay your rent in the process.” I’m sold.

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