Let me say right off the bat that I am not telling anyone they should home can butter. I'm just telling you what I do. Use your own judgement.
I have been putting off the home canning of butter. Some time back I made the mistake of following the instructions of someone on YouTube who didn't know what they were talking about. The experiment was a disaster. I was a bit reluctant to try again, especially with the price of butter these days.
Then I remembered that Jackie Clay, who writes a column for Backwoods Home Magazine, had posted about how she cans butter. I trust her judgement as she has been doing this for many years. She has a question and answer part to her column, and if someone asks about a canning method or recipe that is questionable, Jackie will tell that person if it is safe or not to home can, and why.
Here is the method that Jackie uses to can her butter, in her words:
"To can butter, melt it in a saucepan over low heat. Heat it enough to simmer out any remaining buttermilk. Sterilize your wide mouth half pint jars in boiling water, holding them in simmering water until just before you will fill them so they are sterile and very hot. Simmer your butter for 10 minutes, very gently, to drive off any remaining moisture. Stir often to prevent solids from scorching. Remove jars from heat and invert to drain thoroughly. Then turn them over and carefully ladle the hot butter into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar, place a hot, previously-simmered lid on the jar and screw the ring down firmly tight. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 60 minutes.
You can keep the moisture from settling to the bottom of the jars by waiting until the jars have cooled some after processing, then shaking them gently to redistribute the moisture. Repeat this every 5 minutes or so as the jars cool completely. Carefully check your seals as the shaking could cause a seal to fail. Refrigerate any jar that doesn’t seal and use soon or reprocess the butter from the melting, onward, all over again with a new lid. -Jackie"
I followed her instructions to the letter. I started with 6 lbs. of butter that yielded 14 half-pint jars. The butter tends to separate in the jars, but the gentle shaking of the jars while cooling fixed that problem.
This butter will not be exactly like the butter was before canning. It will be a little bit grainy the way butter is when it melts and hardens again. But there is no difference in taste and it melts on toast or vegetables beautifully. Some may not like the texture, but it doesn't bother me at all. I would not hesitate to use this butter on a slice of bread, or anywhere else that calls for butter.
I have another 6 lbs of butter in the fridge to can and then I may have to make a run to Sam's Club. Butter at Sams is $2.75 a pound. Butter at the grocery is getting close to $4.00 a pound.
Yep. I'll be canning a lot more of this.