Being a Creative Cheapskate: Making Butter and Jam

Sounds neurotic, right? Why would I make two things I could so easily buy? I do have a history of this though (i.e. peanut butter and nutella!).

I have to be honest, it was really just laziness and some plums that were going to go bad, coupled with, of course, a desire to get good food without paying for it. Those were the circumstances that drove me to buckle down and make some homemade goodies. And no, I am not already training to be a grandmother.

So it was my roommates birthday and I promised to make her a cake for the party. She initially fought it (why, I still don’t get) but we settled on a rainbow/tie-dye cake as the special dessert we would shove in her face eat at the party! If you haven’t seen it before, its awesome–reminds me of the t-shirts I made at summer camp, but edible!

cake3

While shopping for ingredients I realized that it was going to take some extra effort to find unsalted butter. I could have just left the salt out if I had wanted to be super lazy, but I also needed buttermilk. So I had a brilliant idea: I would make more work for myself and make my own butter and use the left over liquid–the buttermilk–in the cake as well! Genius.

And you know what? It wasn’t even close to difficult. I describe this method of making butter as “messing up whipped cream”, because you literally over whip whipped cream. And the product is damn good. I know, it surprised me too.

butter1

The cake turned out great, although the colors could have been a bit more artfully placed.  But at least I could say I made the butter in it!!

cake2

And then I turned to my overly soft plums. They were really some office leftovers that I couldn’t bare to see thrown out. There are so many ways to use old-ish fruit and veg there is really no excuse! Except laziness of course…But no one was going to fight me for them anyway, so I took them home and began to google.

Turns out jam is easy to make and doesn’t necessarily require pectin. I also wasn’t about to try and search for pectin because a) I don’t know what its called in the Spanish/Argentine language (pectina, maybe?) and b) why spend more if the internet says it can be left out? I didn’t even buy the plums in the first place so it was a great excuse to test out the method and possibly screw it up.

After a good hour and a half to two hours my mission was complete. Results were stellar and now I have homemade jam in the fridge! Practically free, I may add.

Jam 1

Best bet to replicate the free part is to ask your fruit/veg people if they have any overly soft fruit. In my experience they are more than happy to get rid of these things, especially in the bulk needed for a nice sized batch of jam. Worst case scenario they say no, but most likely they will at least sell fruit to you at a heavily discounted price. You might have to spend a bit of time paring the brown bits off, but its worth it in the end!

The best part? Eating homemade butter and homemade jam together on my overly whole-wheat toast. Sweet success.

jam 2

Homemade Unsalted Butter (and buttermilk)

Ingredients:

4 cups cream*
1/8-1/4 teaspoon fine salt (optional)

Directions:

Beat the heavy cream with a mixer in a bowl on high until it looks like whipped cream. Continue beating until the cream separates. Pour of some of the liquid and reserve, taking care to not let the butter go with it. Beat until as much liquid as possible is extracted and then until smooth.**

*note: when I made it four cups (about 1 L) of cream made about 3-3.5 cups (about 500g) butter and 1.5 cups (375 ml) buttermilk

**note: some recipes say to use a sieve to “dry” the butter, i.e. get as much buttermilk out as possible. I didn’t do this and it came out just fine. 

No-Pectin Plum Jam

adapted from Savory Sweet Life recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups chopped plums, most peels removed, but some left on for color
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Cook plums and lemon juice on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir until everything is well combined. Cook for an additional 25 minutes until the thickness of the jam has been reduced to the consistency of thick honey, stirring occasionally. The jam should not be too juicy, but thickened (it will also get thicker as it cools).  Skim off the foam, remove from heat, and allow to cool.

So splatter that baby on anything and everything toast or scone-like. With the homemade butter of course!

Happy Munching!

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