Make Butter with Your Backyard Herbs: Shelly Vie of Nourished Spills Secrets
Kate Crowley You can make gourmet butter at home!
Did you know you can make butter? Really delicious butter compounded with herbs from your garden? Yes, you can. Though it's slightly more complicated than simply mixing a stick of butter and some herbs, it's a fun process that yields tasty outcomes.
Nourished is a company run by Shelly Vie. She and her business partner craft nine flavors of grass-fed compound butters, ghee, and bone broths. They've been a hit at farmers market around town and they make beautiful use of seasonal ingredients. The best part? Shelly's spilled her secrets on how to use your own herbs and pantry leftovers to make butter at home.
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Kate Crowley Herbs are the perfect base for your butter.
First, begin with a small mason jar filled roughly a quarter of the way with cream. About four ounces. What kind of cream? "I would say what's important to me is just good quality cream," says Vie. "Organic? Grass-fed? What's important to you?" She recommends Strauss creamery available at Whole Foods. If that's too pricey, there are good options from Trader Joe's as well. Vie uses a private source of pasture-raised dairy for her butter (the closest to local she can get) but says, "Any cream will make butter, find best quality within your budget." Alternatively, you can buy local un-homogenized milk and skim the cream.
A note here about fat. Legally, butter with 84 percent butterfat can be called "European butter." European-style butter is usually churned longer than other, traditional butters. This decreases the moisture content and increases the butterfat content. Why would you want more fat? It has more flavor and less moisture, which makes it perform well in most recipes.
Now that you have your cream and your jar, you need to plan ahead on how to flavor your butter. The short list? Fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano, mint and lavender, honey, spices, capers, peppers, dried peppers, liquors, bitters, dried fruits, nuts, oils, garlic, vermouth, shallot, onion . . . pretty much anything!
Vie typically starts with the fresh ingredients, as they dictate what else to add in. For example, if you're making a butter with fresh basil and strawberry preserves, start with the basil. If you're planning on cooking with the butter, overdo the flavors; in other words, make it strong! If you're simply wanting to put a little on toast and don't want something too different from regular butter, make sure it tastes good off the spoon. Yep, lick the butter from a spoon. Our demo group came up with such flavor profiles as: basil with strawberries and chocolate liquor, rosemary with honey and fig preserves, jalapeño with grapefruit and rose, and butter with sardines and capers. Ensure that any hard ingredients, like rosemary, are finely chopped.