Making Butter

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Laura Ingalls Wilder describes the buttermaking process in detail in her Little House in the Big Woods.

Ma Ingalls grated carrot and heated it with a little milk to dye the cream. Then she churned the cream in a big dash church. The cream grew thick and then little bits of butter would slosh through the cover on the churn. Ma had to rinse the butter over and over in cold water. Then she put it into a pretty butter mold and turned the pats out onto a plate. The young Laura and Mary drank the buttermilk when Ma was all done.

We don’t have a dash churn, so we followed the instructions in A Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker to make butter in a quart jar.

Let me tell you, a quart jar with a little over three cups of liquid in it is much too full to effectively make butter. We shook that thing off and on all day long to no avail. I put it in the cup holder of my car and we shook it when stopped at stoplights. We shook it here, we shook it there, we shook it everywhere.

Not butter yet

It whipped up and thickened but would not turn to butter until I opened it up (whipped cream everywhere!) and poured half into a second quart jar.

And we have butter!

Then I shook for a couple of minutes. Yellow grains of butter appeared. I was surprised when three more shakes gave me a solid mass of butter.

Rinsing the butter

I rinsed in ice water and gave the children their begged-for tastes of buttermilk.

Our (mostly) rinsed butter

Then to find the mold from my wedding mints to use for fancy “butter pats”.

Our pretty butter

We’re still eating our butter, but the kids are eager to make more so that they can drink more buttermilk.

Tirzah Mae drinking the buttermilk

For my part, I’m glad we did it but I’m also thinking we’ll hold off on doing it again until the kids are capable of shaking their own jars. My arms got TIRED!

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Reader Comments (1):

  1. What a neat experiment! And good exercise, too. :-) I have never liked buttermilk, but I wonder if the real thing from immediate processing would taste better than the store-bought kind. Good to know that it needs a lot of room for shaking.

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