Butter Making

A happy cow, fed grain and put to pasture, will produce enough milk for drinking, cooking and butter making.

All utensils necessary for dairy work should be spotlessly clean in order to maintain the purity of the butter and the sweet flavor. Prior to milking, the cow’s udder should also be washed and dried. Milking should be performed in a cheery manner, since relaxed cows give more milk.

The milk should be strained into pans quickly and left in a cool place to allow the cream to rise, about 24 hours. Several days worth of cream can be combined before churning begins. In order to preserve the grain of the milk, or the butter-globule, slow churning is preferable. By the late 1800s, the hand-cranked swing churn had nearly replaced the butter churn and dash. Regardless of the method, churning should take 40-50 minutes of constant motion to transform the sweet cream into solid butter.

Rinsing the butter is equally important, as buttermilk residue will turn butter rancid. The buttermilk can be poured into a separate bowl and used in cooking or baking. The butter is traditionally rinsed on a long wooden board set at an incline, using a butter stick (resembles a large wooden spoon 3 inches in diameter, almost flat) to turn the butter while cool water is poured over it. An ounce of salt for every pound of butter can be added. After it is rinsed and salted, the butter is ready to be wrapped in paper, pats, or stored in jars.

Make your own butter at home

You can make your own old-fashioned butter at home using a few simple ingredients. All you need is a small carton of heavy whipping cream, a glass jar, and some water.

Pour the cream into the jar, screw the lid on tightly, and start shaking! Turning cream into butter takes a while, so don't get discouraged. Eventually the consistency of the cream will change and you'll feel a solid ball of butter bouncing around in the jar. At this point you'll have two substances in the jar instead of one: the butter, and the buttermilk. The buttermilk can be poured into another container and used to make buttermilk biscuits or pancakes. The butter needs to be rinsed well in cold water, and then stored in the refrigerator!