Herbal Butter

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Herbal Butter

Herbal Butter
Mix up a batch of herbal harvest butter for your fall celebrations. Image by Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

When the Mabon season rolls around, most of us are still harvesting our herbs from the gardens. While we often use them in magical applications, it’s good to keep in mind that you can incorporate them into cooking and recipes. One of the easiest things to do with herbs is mix them up into a butter blend. You can spread this on fresh-baked bread during your Mabon feast or use it in your favorite recipes.

Think about all the different magical herbs you use on a regular basis that also have culinary applications. The possibilities are just about endless! Here are five of my favorite magical herbal butter blends. The easiest way to make your own butter is using a stand mixer, which is the way the directions are written here, but if you don’t have one of those, you can also put it in a large jar with a lid and shake it. This can be labor intensive and time consuming, so feel free to put your children to work if you choose the jar method. This recipe makes a full pound of butter, as well as about two cups of buttermilk (more on that in a minute), but you can blend smaller portions if you need to. Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Herb blend of your choice (see below)

As I mentioned, this is a whole lot easier to do if you have a stand mixer, but it’s also a lot messier. The butter-making part is pretty easy. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the salt, and then set your mixed on its lowest setting. Gradually increase the speed. Run it for a few minutes – at first it will seem like nothing is happening at all, and then it will look like you have a giant bowl of whipped cream. Keep the mixer running, because all of a sudden the cream will begin to clump up and separate from the liquid.

The clumpy yellow part is the butter, and the whitish milky liquid that separates from it is actually buttermilk. This is where it gets messy. Cover your mixer with a towel before you get started, because otherwise your entire kitchen will be covered in buttermilk splashes. I speak from experience on this.

Once the butter clumps are sticking to the paddle, you can turn off the mixer. Pour off the buttermilk into a container (you can use it later in other recipes!), and make sure you get all of it out. You may even want to place a colander or strainer over a jar and pour off the buttermilk that way. After you’ve removed the buttermilk, put the butter back into the stand mixer’s bowl. Here’s where you’re going to add your herbs. These are five of my favorite combinations, but you can experiment and try making your own.

  • Lemon Garlic Butter: Add ¼ C grated lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, and 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • Dill Butter: Add 1 C fresh chopped dill to your butter. You can also combine this with the lemon garlic butter above.
  • Savory Herb Butter: Combine 1 Cup each rosemary, tarragon, and sage, finely chopped.
  • Spicy Mustard and Chive Butter: Combine ½ C spicy mustard with ¼ C freshly chopped chives.
  • Sweet Honey Butter: Add 1 ½ - 2 Cups honey, depending on how sweet you like your butter. This will give you a more spreadable butter than the herbal blends, and it’s great on toast or breakfast biscuits.

Once you’ve added your choice of herb blends, turn the mixer back on, at the lowest setting, and mix it just enough so that the herbs are thoroughly mixed in with the butter.

Remove the butter blend from the mixer bowl. The first four work combinations really well if you want to shape them into logs, balls, or even decorative molds. However, the honey mixture is generally too soft and sticky to give it a lot of shape, so spoon that into your favorite jar or crock. Your herbal butters will keep up to two weeks in the fridge, but chances are good your family and friends will eat them all long before that.