27 Feb

How to make your own butter

Ever since we went semi-primal with out diet about a year or so ago, we switched from Margarine, which is full of all manor of weird and nasty man-made junk, to butter, a far more healthy choice, even though the media would have you believe otherwise.

How To Make Your Own Butter From Cream

How To Make Your Own Butter From Cream

Butter is made from milk, something we humans have been consuming in various forms for thousands of years. Margarine contains sunflower oil and all manner of other derived fats and ingredients that we truly have no real clue as to what effect they have on our bodies!

Well one feature in this years series of Super Scrimpers on Channel 4 caught my eye… Making your own butter. All you need is a pot of double cream or whipping cream (heavy cream for our American/Canadian readers), and an clean, empty jam jar. Now here in the UK double cream is quite pricey and if you’re looking for an economy route to making your own butter, then it may not be the best way, but it does taste far better than margarine, contains none of the dodgy ingredients or even the preservatives found in shop bought butter.

What you need?

  • A small pot of double cream
  • Jam Jar
  • Elbow Grease

Method

Pour the cream into your jam jar, about 1.5 to 2″ deep is plenty. Put the lid on and fasten it tightly. Then start shaking the jar… It takes a while, but after about 2 or 3 mins the cream should reach a whipped state. Continue shaking the jar… It gets harder to shake as the cream stiffens, but persevere. I find rotating the jar round and turning it upside down every so often helps keep it moving.

As the cream reaches room temperature, it starts to become easier to work with… Continue shaking. All of a sudden you’ll notice a change in the sound the cream makes as it slops back and forth in the jar. The fat in the cream will eventually start to separate out, forming pure butter, and you’ll be left with a watery milk liquid known as buttermilk. Continue shaking for another minute or so to get as much buttermilk out of the butter as possible.

Then pour the buttermilk into a suitable container and refrigerate for later use (It’s lovely added to regular milk on cereal etc and it contains tons of calcium!).

Fill the jam jar containing the butter up with cold water and give it a good shake again, to wash out any further butter milk. I find squashing the butter in the jar with the back of a spoon helps get as much butter milk out as possible. It’s important to remove as much buttermilk as possible as if it’s left in, the butter will quickly turn rancid.

Rinse the butter several times using this method until the water runs clear. Then transfer the butter to a suitable dish or container and it’s ready to use immediately. Freshly made butter will keep unrefrigerated for a couple of days, or up to a week in the fridge. To store it for longer, just pop it into the freezer.

Most importantly, enjoy your own freshly made butter! Especially on freshly made scones with homemade black currant jam!

17 Feb

Frugal Food Shopping – Hit That Reduced Counter!

Over the past few months the cost of living has continued to rise, and one of the most notable areas where we’ve seen increased prices is in our Food bill. We don’t eat out often, certainly not as much as we used to and my rather talented Fiance, Tina is cooking pretty much everything we eat from scratch so we know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies, but the price of the raw ingredients is just going up and up.

During the spring, summer and autumn, we try and grow as much as we can ourselves as far as Salad crops, fruit and vegetable are concerned, but in the winter, our frozen stocks diminish and we have no choice but to buy from the supermarket.

So this past month, we’ve been on a bit of a mission to minimize our food bill as much as possible and there’s one particular way we’ve managed to decimate the amount we spend rather dramatically… Buying from the reduced counter.

Ok, maybe it’s being cheap… or just Yuk… But stop and think for a minute… Our local supermarket reduces a ridiculous amount of bread, normally two days or more prior to the “Best Before” or Display until date (and we all know those dates mean pretty much nothing), and the reductions are massive… Warburtons loaves reduced from £1.60 to £0.80p or lower… And the stuff is fresher than the bread we normally get delivered from Tesco when we shop online!

Fruit and veg is another big one… Huge bags of spinach at less than 1/3 their original price, celery, aubergines… The savings are phenomenal! Ok, it may not last as long as if you bought from the new stock that’s just been put out, but if you buy and use it that day, or with bread and fruit, pop it in the freezer, you’ll save a fortune.

We now have a months supply of bread in our freezer and it all cost less than £5… saving us at least £5 if not more! And the savings we’ve made on meat for Sunday roasts etc is just crazy.

Golden Rules To Pocket the difference

Next time you’re in the supermarket, drop by the reduced counter and see what’s there, you’ll be amazed I can assure you. But to make sure we don’t get distracted, we’ve got a few golden rules we go by…

  • Only buy the things you would normally eat. Or if you’re tempted by something you wouldn’t normally chose, check the ingredients for additives and other man made nasties.
  • Don’t buy more than you need. If you can’t freeze it or eat it before it goes off, don’t buy it. You don’t want to end up binning it as that negates the whole point of the exercise.
  • Save the difference – Make a note of the money you’ve saved and put it to one side. Put the money you would have normally spent into a coin jar or transfer it to a savings account if you paid electronically. You’ll be amazed how quickly the savings add up.
  • If you’re buying reduced meat, make sure you use it on the day or get it put straight in the freezer.
  • Lastly, be sure the price is a real reduction… Could you get the normal, full price product cheaper anywhere else. It’s unlikely, but you never know. Supermarkets are crafty!

Next time you’re in the supermarket, be crafty… go check out that reduced counter and see what you can find. Get over the use-by date thing and use your noddle. If it looks ok, smells ok and tastes ok… 99.999% of the time it is…

Have you got any other ideas for Frugal food shopping? Feel free to post them in the comments below and share them with other readers…

14 Jul

Easy Black Currant Jam Recipe

Black Currants

Photo By Vibrant Spirit'

I’ve never been the best cook in the world, but sometimes you just have to have a go. My Fiance is way better than me at all things culinary, but due to other commitments it was up to me to make the most of some of the superb Black Currants we picked last week at Cattows Farm before the started to go off / mouldy. So I kinda flew by the seat of my pants with a few yelled instructions from Tina in the other room… To keep things simple I went for the simplest Jam recipe possible and hoped for the best!

Easy Homemade Black Currant Jam Recipe – Makes 4 to 5 Jars

Ingredients:
1kg of Black Currants (As freshly picked as possible)
1kg of Granulated Sugar

Equipment:

1 x Large Saucepan
1 x Wooden Spoon
1 x Tea Spoon
1 x Plate, Chilled

First put the Black Currants in a colander and wash the fruit with cold water to remove any bits of leaves, lose stems, spiders etc! I didn’t bother topping and tailing the currants. My Mother would have done, but I’m blowed if I’m sitting there for hours chopping the little brown bits off a million and one Black Currants!

Empty Currants into the saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Stir regularly to stop the fruit burning. The fruit will start to reduce down quite quickly and eventually begin to boil. Keep stiring them as they can burn easily.

Get The Right Equipment!

A good quality Jam or Maslin Pan will make Jam making much easier!

When the “Stewed” Black Currants have the right mix of juice and whole fruit, pour in the Kilo of sugar and continue stiring. The sugar should melt down quickly. Keep boiling the mixture for about 10 mins or so. Some say it takes longer but that’s all mine took.

My First Homemade Black Currant Jam

My First Homemade Black Currant Jam

After about 10 mins, take a Teaspoon of the hot Jam from the saucepan and drip it on to the chilled plate. Turn the heat down on the boiling jam to minimum and put the plate in the fridge for about 5 mins.

After 5 mins, remove the plate from the fridge and push the jam with your finger. if it wrinkles up and looks to be a jam like consistency, it’s ready to pour into jars. If not, wack the heat back up on the saucepan and boil it for another 5/10 mins. Again don’t forget to stir it… Burnt Jam tastes awful!

Once you’re happy with your jam and think it’s ready, pour it into steralized jars and pop the lids on asap. That way as the hot jam and air above the jam inside the jar cools, it’ll create a vacuum, pulling seal on the lid nice and tight. If you’re using recycled jars you’ll probably hear the little safety buttons pop down after about an hour as the jam cools. Having a vacuum inside the jars keeps them 100% airtight and the jam keeps much much longer.

Once the jam has cooled completely, store in a cool place. Properly stored jam can keep for over a year i.m.o.

If you liked this recipe, please feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook & Twitter, or leave a comment below!

Thanks.