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I tried making cultured butter today from a supermarket variety crème fraîche. For some reason the butter hasn't split from the whey although I've "churned" it with the hand mixer for 20 minutes or more.

This recipe for cultured butter suggests that about 2 to 5 minutes is needed with a food processor, and my previous experience with the hand mixer is about 10 minutes for sweet butter.

I checked the ingredients list of the crème fraîche and I don't see anything unusual: cream* and an unspecified culture. That's it. No artificial thickeners for example.

What could be the problem?

Update:

I'll just note one avenue I've already explored: temperature. I've tried varying the temperature during churning from just above freezing to around room temperature.

* The cream is "högpastöriserad" which is Swedish for a pasteurization process where the cream is held at 80°C for 5 seconds. I'm not sure this term translates directly to a common English term.

  • Hmm...I don't have a clue why that isn't working for you. Have you tried using cream that you have cultured yourself? That's on my list of things to try too if I can get a hold of cream that isn't ultrapasteurized. – Jolenealaska May 22 '14 at 19:14
  • I wish we would use that pasteurization process. Here almost all cream is ultra-pasteurized (cooked to death) at 138C. Forget fun things like making butter, we're lucky to get it to whip. – Jolenealaska May 22 '14 at 19:57
  • Where are you you in the world? The definitions of cream vary from place to place, as do processing. – GdD May 23 '14 at 11:14
  • @GdD His profile says Stockholm, Sweden. – Jolenealaska May 23 '14 at 17:47
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If you were using supermarket cream, the reason would be very clear: it is not only pasteurized, but also homogenized. This means that it has been mechanically emulsified to prevent the butter from separating.

I don't know if the cream for creme fraiche is homogenized too before creme fraiche is made, but with your result, I'd suspect homogenization too. It won't show up on the label as an ingredient, as it is done by forcing the cream through microfilters.

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    I'm not sure that homogenization alone can explain the OP's difficulties. I have made butter a few times (intentionally and not-so-much), as far as I know all available cream here is homogenized. – Jolenealaska May 23 '14 at 1:56
  • @Jolenealaska I'm leaning towards this explanation. It seems that the homogenization process not only splits the fat globules into many smaller bubbles, but those bubbles become surrounded with proteins (whey and caseins) that stabilize the emulsion. – Chris Steinbach May 23 '14 at 20:49
  • @ChrisSteinbach Do you have a food processor? That worked well for me when I intentionally made butter with homogenized cream. I have no doubt that homogenization makes it harder, but eventually even homogenized cream will turn to butter. A food processor should get you there without sacrificing your arm to the process. You've got me thinking now. I just tried commercial cultured butter for the first time and loved it. It was ridiculously expensive though. – Jolenealaska May 23 '14 at 20:56
  • I find that Jolene's point is very good: homogenization indeed doesn't prevent butter churning completely. It still makes it harder to happen. Sadly, I can't say how much harder. Still, it is the best hypothesis I can come up with, and I find it possible, but not certain. – rumtscho May 23 '14 at 21:41
  • @Jolenealaska My food processor broke a while back. I'll try in the blender and see how that works out. Cultured butter is the norm here in Sweden. I'm just playing with my food. – Chris Steinbach May 24 '14 at 5:38

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