Thursday, July 15, 2010

Homestead Experiment #2: Canning Butter

After much deliberation, we decided to go for it, and can 12# of butter Why the hesitation, you may ask? Well, because butter is a low acid food. So, according to the USDA standards, it needs to be pressure canned. But, when I googled how to can it in order to find out the time/pressure, NO ONE cans it in a canner. Everyone does the decades old 'warm jar, dry can'. I was deliberating calling the experiment off since I tend to be a USDA kinda gal when it comes to canning. But then I saw that butter has no protein. Meat products have to be pressure canned because they are high protein (and thus prone to bacteria) and low acid. So, while butter is low acid, it has no protein to attract many of the common bacteria. So, I decided to go for it. I had gotten canned butter from a friend and it was good, and you still sterilize your jars, rings, and lids. Besides, when I read the recipe I saw that you actually boil the butter for 5 minutes before pouring into the warm jars anyway. My kids wanted to help, so I just made sure we washed up really good before peeling the wrappers off.

**A couple of things I learned in this process**

1) When the recipe says to be sure and scoop from the bottom of the pot, they're not kidding! All the creamy white settles to the bottom and separates from the fat very quickly! I actually found it was better to ladle, stir, ladle, stir, ladle, stir... you get the point. I stirred in between each scoop to try to get as equal parts in each jar as possible.

2)If you can 11# of salted butter, it will exactly fill up 12 pint jars, but since you have to let the jars warm in the oven for 20 min, I would warm an extra just in case. In our trial, I had the number 12 stuck in my head, so I melted 12 pounds of butter. Needless to say I did not have enough jars ready, so I had to keep my butter simmering for an extra 20 minutes while I prepped more jars. Also, you want salted butter because the salt helps preserve the butter.

With all that, here's the recipe-complete with pictures of my helpful assistants :)

*Wash thoroughly 12 (or 13?) pint jars. You do not need to dry them. Place them in a pan and put in preheated oven. Warm at 250 for 20 minutes without lids or rings.
The roasting pan held most of the jars. I just put the extra 2 in a bread loaf pan.

*Put the rings and lids into a pot and cover with water. Boil for a minute.

(This is a picture of my cool lid rack that my hubby got me. It sure beats chasing the lids around with one of those magnet wands! He got it at the gourmet store here in town. Funny-I never thought of canning as a 'gourmet' activity:)

I put the rings in another pot.

*Begin peeling your butter. Gather assistants if available!

*Melt the butter over med-low heat stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Once melted, boil at a rolling boil for 5 mintues stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into warm jars-remembering to stir between scoops! Wipe threads and rims of jar with a clean, damp paper towel. Place sterilized lids on and secure tightly with bands.

*Wait for the jars to seal (when you push on the lid, they stay down and don't flex), and for the jars to be cool enough to handle. Give the sealed jars a vigorous shake every 15-20 minutes. After the jars are completely cool, move them into the fridge for an hour, still shaking every 15 minutes. Once in the fridge, they solidify quickly. According to most sites online, these are good for about 3 years stored at room temperature (but cooler is better).Pre-shaken jars. See how it separates?
The finished product. Ta-da!


  1. Have you used any of your canned butter? How did it turn out? This is something we have been toying with for a while but have been putting off because butter is so cheap right now.

  2. We have. We made a point to use it up when we thought we were moving. It is great for camping,and we sent some to my inlaws for their sailing trip. It is a bit grainy, but spreads and melts just fine. I've cooked with it without any problem. Yes, take advantage of the good deals and go for it!