Butter from Soured Cream

What, Where, When

  • Smetana, or soured cream, is mentioned throughout the Domostroi , and butter made from cultured cream is made throughout Europe.
  • Butter made from cultured cream tastes, for lack of a better description, richer and more buttery than sweet cream butter. 

Additional Notes

To culture the milk, I used a mixture of commercial kefir culture (Lacto-bacteria and yeast: Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis ssp.lactis, Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, S. Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus kefir, Lactobacillus parakefir, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Kluyveromyces lactis) and Lactobacillus brevis.

Additional information on the effects of these cultures on the milk can be found from the Nordic Food Lab . Their extensive research on the use of various cultures in butter inspired me to visit my local brewing supply store, where I was able to find purified bacterial strains usually used to sour beer in order to supplement my purchased kefir culture.


The process for making the butter is simple:

  • Buy the highest-fat-content cream you can source. Standard heavy cream or heavy whipping cream is preferred, with an approximately 36% fat content. Whipping cream may also work, although the yield may be less as depending on brand, it can range from 30-35% fat content.
  • Add cultures according to package directions – the process will vary slightly depending on the cultures chosen. Allow the cream to sit at room overnight, then chill slightly before churning. Cultures work best at just above room temperature (72°-78° degrees), while chilling to approximately 50°-60° provides the most efficient butter extraction.
  • I usually use a stand mixer to make butter, but you can also use a blender, butter churn or even a mason jar. Whichever method you choose, agitate the cream until it thickens, then becomes whipped cream, and then “breaks” into butter and buttermilk. It’s done when the butter starts to clump.
  • Drain the butter (keep the buttermilk for another use!) then rinse several times with cool water until the water is mostly clear – this will help the butter stay fresh.
  • Add a small amount of salt if desired. Knead the fresh butter with a spoon or your hands until no more liquid is pressed out.
  • Roll butter into a dense ball or roll for storage, and keep tightly covered.


cheesemaking.com. “Butter & Cultured Butter Recipe Instructions.” New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, https://cheesemaking.com/pages/butter-cultured-butter-recipe-instructions. Accessed 24 Sept. 2023.
Food52.com. “What’s the Difference Between Heavy Cream & Whipping Cream?” Food52, 41:57 500, https://food52.com/blog/26778-heavy-cream-vs-half-and-half.
Drain, Johnny. “Aged Butter Part 3: Culturing Butter.” Nordic Food Lab, http://nordicfoodlab.org/blog/2016/2/3/aged-butter-part-3-culturing-butter. Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.
Pouncy, Carolyn, editor. The “Domostroi”: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Cornell University Press, 1994.

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