Homemade Butter

by Deb on August 6, 2010

Post image for Homemade Butter

Yummo!  We made our own butter the other day and it is easy peasy and lots of fun.  And it’s a great way to help kids see where their food comes from and play with chemicals at the same time.

Materials

  • Cream – you end up with roughly half the amount of butter.
  • Something to mix it with
  • Something to mix it in
  • Someone to mix it!

Method

mixing

Mix, mix, mix

scrape down

Scrape down the sides occasionally.

Separated into butter and buttermilk

Watch for when it starts separating.  Sorry for the white on white on white picture, but you can see the solid butter on the left and the buttermilk on the right.

butter and buttermilk

Ta dahh!  Butter and buttermilk, perfect on some simple homemade scones the kids can do, shown at the top.

Variations:

  • Try different types of cream.  This is just the basic whipping cream, it would be interesting to try double cream or thickened cream.
  • Try adding some flavours.  Salt is in many butters because it acts as a preservative.
  • Instead of using a beater, just put it in a jar with the lid on tightly and shake.  I found the electric mixer suited the 2 year old attention span and abilities, but for older kids it would be fun.

What’s Happening?

Milk is an emulsion – two things that don’t normally mix are spread throughout each other.  In milk, the fat occurs in microscopic packets that have a little skin around them (made of phospholipids if anyone wants to know).  This rises to the top as cream, but because of the skin the packets don’t clump together, they are still surrounded by water.  When the cream is beaten or churned it breaks open the packets and the fat then sticks together, forming the butter.  The watery liquid separates as buttermilk, it is the remnants of the milk without the fats in it.  Butter still contains a fair amount of water, at least 15% commercially and up to 40% in homemade butter, but now the water is spread through the fat in microscopic droplets.

Butter made from pasteurised cream, like this one, is a sweet cream butter.  Historically the cream would take a few days to separate from the milk and bacteria would make it begin to ferment, making a cultured butter.  Today, most cultured butters are made by adding lactobacillus to pasteurised or raw cream to control the fermentation, it has a stronger taste than the sweet cream butter.  Homemade buttermilk is quite sweet and very different to commercial buttermilk, which is generally just soured milk.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Marita August 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

That is fantastic. I’ve seen a few bloggers talking about making their own butter and I’m really looking forward to trying it out myself one day. After we move house though – things are a little too chaotic now.
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PlanningQueen August 6, 2010 at 11:27 am

Love this idea Deb. Might give it a try this week end. I really want my kids to understand that food doesn’t just come from shops!

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Deb August 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I actually bought the cream to go with your scones! Then I realised we could make butter with it, and the girls loved it. It’s so light it goes with the slightly sweet scones perfectly. They turned out really well too, it’s nice to have a recipe the girls can do on their own.

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Antonia August 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I can remember accidently making butter as a child when I was trying to help Mum whip cream for a desert! I read somewhere (I think in Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder), that in the olden days people used to grate carrot and squeeze the juice through a cloth to make their butter a brighter, prettier colour if they felt it was too pale.

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Deb August 7, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I’ve done that! I can believe it about the carrots, our butter ended up very pale. Apparently the colour comes from what the cows were fed, so there’s nothing we can do to affect it other than add something. Carrots were on my list to colour paints with, I can see they’d do butter as well.

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SenseiMattKlein August 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I might have to try this one. That creamy butter makes we want to whip up some pancakes and eat them all by myself. On second thought….maybe some scones.
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Annie August 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

What a great idea and so simple! I haven’t let the kids use the electric beater yet but I guess there’s really no reason they can’t, they do know how to be careful once I’ve explained the risks. Maybe we’ll try doing it this way and then doing it in the jar and then comparing the differences

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Kristine August 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

A teacher friend of mine does this with kids shaking cream in a jar. She usually adds a few marbles to increase the agiation.

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