This project isn't for everyone. Homemade butter. I'll be honest, unless you have a true excess of heavy cream sitting around, making plain homemade butter isn't necessarily "worth it." That is, I'm not convinced that the homemade version is enough better than the store-bought version to make it cost-and-time efficient. If, however, you plan a day ahead and culture the cream a bit by making crème fraîche and then churning that into Cultured Butter, it is most definitely worth it. Tangy and sweet at once, homemade cultured butter is tasty enough to slice and eat like cheese (in my humble opinion!).
In either case, a major pay-off of making butter at home is that you end up with real, true Homemade Buttermilk. Use it to sip, or make Buttermilk Scones, Buttermilk Cake, or, treat of treats, Buttermilk Ice Cream.
So how do you make butter? Easy. Put chilled cream or, as mentioned above, crème fraîche, in a bowl and beat it until it separates into butter and buttermilk. If you have a standing mixer, the paddle attachment will be the easiest to deal with. Electric beaters work just fine, as does a whisk (it will take a whole lot of elbow grease, but it's totally possible), or simply putting the cream in a large jar and shaking it until the separation occurs. First the cream will thicken and turn into whipped cream:
after awhile, it will turn grainy:
and, finally, separate into butter and buttermilk:
You'll then use a spoon, spatula, or your own clean hands, to pull the bits of butter into a single mass:
Then squeeze and massage out any excess moisture, and pack it into a crock or butter dish. Note that homemade butter will tend to contain more moisture than store-bought, since it's really difficult to get all the stray bits of buttermilk out of the butter at home.
As when one makes whipped cream, splattering is an issue with making homemade butter. I found draping the mixer with a clean kitchen towel a smart move.