Michael and I have recently been buying up butter when it was on sale. Last time we canned butter (around 2010) it was $1.50 per pound normal price. The butter we recently purchased was $2.50 per pound on sale from $4.00 per pound. That is a HUGE difference, and why we bought up what we could afford.
Also, you can buy canned butter online, but the cost is even more prohibitive at over $8 per pound.
In a recent posts I talked about why having food stores was so important and how it worked as a buffer to inflation. Because we canned that first batch we were able to avoid purchasing butter through much of the increases, AND we were able to buy selectively during a sale, rather than because we ran out.
We canned it with my mother in law, who used her last can in 2015, 5 years later. Our canned butter lasted 5 people about 3 years, so we have been buying and using the on sale butter for a while, as I hadn’t had time to can it until now.
Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had over 24 pounds of butter in our refrigerator.
I found the instructions here, but there are several available on the internet to choose from. The one I chose didn’t use any kind of pressure or water bath canning. In the future, I may try the pressure canning option.
Here are the main points of the directions:
- Use any butter. We use salted as the salt provides added flavor and also added preservative qualities.
- Sterilize your pint jars using your preferred method.
- I place mine in a preheated oven set to 250° F (about 122 C) for at least 20 minutes. I actually leave them in until I am ready to use them.
- At the same time you should be preheating your seals by immersing them in boiling water.
- I used pint jars, and for me 12 pounds fit into 14 pint jars with some left over.
- While I have everything getting sterilized, I unwrap my butters and place them directly into the pot.
- I did 12 pounds at a time, and it took a while for them to completely melt.
- You need to bring your butter up to a boil. Stirring continuously. Please use extreme caution when working with this much HOT fats/oils.
- Once brought to a boil, simmer for 5 more minutes, still stirring.
- You will notice a foam layer form on the top of your butter. Some people scrape this off. I didn’t, as it goes away when you stop boiling/simmering the butter.
- You will also notice during the melting and boiling process that the butter and the milk solids will separate. This is normal.
- When you are finished simmering, you ladle hot liquid butter into the jars.
- You will need to stir your butter as you ladle to be sure to get an even distribution of milk solids to oil in your jars.
- As you can see from my pictures this is not easy to do. It is not a huge issue, but some people find that the solids impart a better flavor to the butter.
- The oil on top, if left without solids is also known as clarified butter or Ghee, which is also very expensive, so if you end up with more of that in one jar, it isn’t a big deal. In fact you can skim the clarified butter and leave the milk solids behind if you want. Some people think this adds to the shelf life of your butter.
- Here is where I diverged from the linked directions: Once I had all my jars filled with butter, with lids and rings secured, I placed them back into the 250°F oven for a further 20 minutes.
- I wasn’t getting a strong enough seal relying on just the heat from the butter to create the vacuum. I would hear a dull ping, but when I moved to the following steps I was getting seal failures.
- After I did the oven canning, upon removal I heard the tell-tale ping, and had no more lid failures in the following steps.
- Once you hear the “ping” of the lids sealing, wait a few more minutes then begin the shaking process.
- Every few minutes you will need to gently shake your jars to redistribute the milk solids throughout your clarified butter.
- Be careful with hot jars and use a doubled up dish towel if jars are hot. If jars require oven mitts to shake they are probably not ready for this process.
- Keep shaking them periodically till the solids start taking longer to separate or until they don’t appear to be separating.
- Place them in the fridge to speed up solidifying your butter, but still continue to shake periodically.
- Once they will no longer shake, they are ready to store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Overall, I ended up doing 24 pounds which equaled 29 pints. I also had enough melted butter left over to make a box cake mix, and then pancakes the next morning.