Little Butter Churners

Sunday, we decided to try our hands at making butter. I’ve decided that as I experiment with making things, it is important to include the kids in the process. This doesn’t come very naturally to me. I love cooking . . . by myself. Cooking with three extra pairs of hands . . . not nearly as much fun. But, as I worked out my summer schedule first draft, I realized that I need to try to make this work. So three nights a week, I am allowing one helper to work alongside me while I make supper. And two mornings a week, I am allowing all three kids to help me make something food related. We will normally gather around the kitchen table to accomplish that, as it is extremely hard to line three chairs up to the counter and still have room for me. But for our first project, we did the first step in the living room as it involved shaking a large glass jar, and I wanted to avoid dropping it on the kitchen tiles. This, by the way, was really good, because the jar did fall as the book warned it might.

Normally, I would hope to have raw cow’s milk on hand to skim cream off in order to make our butter. But for our first attempt we used heavy whipping cream I had left over from a recipe. I had a lot more than I remembered, so we almost completely filled a quart jar. I made sure to boil my jar and lid to prevent any unwanted contamination. The cream sat out on my counter for about an hour and a half so that it was not quite room temperature, but warmer than refrigerator temperature. Once we had the clean jar filled with cream, we began to shake it, and shake . . . and shake . . . It didn’t really take very long, but I will tell you it was quite a work out for the arms. The kids all took a turn, but they required my extra muscle to make any significant progress in a reasonable amount of time. Using the glass jar meant we could watch the cream change to whipped cream (at which point we had to stop and remove a small amount for tasting) and then finally to butter. After letting it sit for 5 minutes to let the butter finish solidifying, we dumped the whole thing through a clean flour sack towel in a colander. We made sure to catch the buttermilk though, because I really wanted to see what it tasted like. I have read lots of books talking about drinking buttermilk, which I always thought sounded horrible, but that is because I had been imagining cultured buttermilk, which is an entirely different thing. The sweet buttermilk we collected from our butter making was indeed delicious!

I didn’t get much of it though because the kids finished it off in a few minutes time. There are other uses for buttermilk too. If I am ever able to save any of it from the kids, I will try some buttermilk cheese or put it into my bread.
After straining the butter, I worked it with a rubber spatula and then while it was still in the colander, rinsed it while working it some more. Then I divided it up into two sections on a plate, salted one and put them in the refrigerator (after sampling it on our mango pecan muffins of course). After the butter had hardened in the refrigerator I removed it from the plate and wrapped it in waxed paper and then put it into plastic ziploc bags. The unsalted version went in the freezer to prevent spoilage, and the salted version is in my refrigerator. We used some on our baked potatoes for supper and on muffins this morning. John’s verdict: “Tastes like butter.”
Next on our list of things to try – goat milk yogurt.

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