Thursday, February 2, 2012

Making butter with a Centrifuge @ 8,000 rpm

I saw that in Modernist cuisine that they made butter using a centrifuge. So I decided to do the same. It's actually REALLY interesting how this piece of equipment separates the heavy cream. As you can see in the photo below, there are 3 layers. The top layer is butter. Later on, I 'll discuss how much butter fat I think may be in it. The middle layer is apparently the water and whey, I have no idea what the bottom layer is, I can however, describe how they taste. 

I separated the layers by first poking a hole through the top layer of butter, and just pouring out the liquids. The water and whey is not as viscous so it pours out first before the bottom layer does. The bottom layer has the consistency of low fat yogurt that has no gums or thickeners present in it. They are also miles apart in flavour. 

The bottom most layer has an extremely rich texture. Thick and creamy, but in a different way. See, its creamy in the sense that it's thick, but it lacks that fatty oomph in the texture. Flavour-wise, it's very subtle. There's not a lot of milky flavours in it, but the texture is just out of this world. The whey on the other hand is packed with flavoour. It has the consistency of skim milk, but its yellowish and not as opaque in appearance. The sweetness of the cream definitely comes through in the middle layer. I derived quite the amount of pleasure from drinking it. Especially knowing that there's probably not a lot of fat in it!

Here, I went to see how much the fat content is in the butter. I don't have the necessary equipment so I decided to do it just by measuring weights before and after boiling off the water. 

I tared off the weight of the pot and measured quite close to 200g. 

I then went to clarify it at a low heat. Technically, only the water would be boiled off. I'm certain there might be more, but for practicality, I just stuck with simple and basic theory that water evaporates, the rest don't. 

Since the goal wasn't exactly to clarify the butter, I didn't skim off the foam that forms. Doing so would only add another variable to the testing, and not to mention take out weight that would not have reduced from the boiling. 

And here is the final weight of 148.01g grams.That's about a 25% loss in weight, making the butter only 75% butter fat. I forgot to mention that left the butter on paper towels before I placed them on the pot. Even if we take into account the flaws in the method of collection and give a margin of error of 5%, that would still make it 80% butter fat at most. 

I was hoping to get 90% butter fat. Perhaps I need to leave it in the centrifuge longer, and at higher rpm. I have to say, that machine scares me a little. I've heard horror stories of labs exploding from centrifuges malfunctioning. Oh well, ALL IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS! I'll be doing this trial again.

I also have some cultured cream I want to centrifuge to make cultured butter. 

Till next time!