Make it at Home: Butter

The idea of making butter is so old-fashioned. And nostalgic. It’s wonderful and I think about how when that was the only option for getting butter, making it yourself. In a churn. On a hot day. With sweat dripping off your nose. Oh, fantastic. I was totally born in the wrong decade. I love this stuff.

I was going to name this series Projects with Mom and maybe I’ll still change it. It seems like every time she comes out, we’re doing something fun in the kitchen. Like, oh you know, making butter or ketchup. It seems like a good name right, since most of us don’t actually make butter or ketchup in our homes, things like that are nearly lost after my mother’s generation.

Butter. Love the stuff, and why you should too. Sorry, but margarine, Crisco, Can’t Believe, soy “butter”–they are not butter! Ditch ’em. It’s okay, I’ll admit I used the soy stuff for a time too. Blah. Go for the real stuff. God made cows. Cows make milk. Milk makes butter. Butter makes toasted bread amazing. Need I say more?

Homemade Butter

bowl of ice water

*Preferably raw, organic, or pastured cream. Heavy whipping cream from the grocery will work, but just know that it is a little more processed and usually has added ingredients. Choose whipping cream over heavy whipping cream, and try to find cream that is NOT ultra-pasteurized.

Butter the Old-Fashioned Way without a Churn

My husband got me this amazing Encyclopedia of Country Living with instructions on tons of simple living projects (gardening, butchering–I’ll leave that to him, soap making to name a few). I love it. However, I tried making butter the way is suggested (twice) and couldn’t get it done.

It recommends that you put a marble in a jar, pour in the cream, tightly secure the lid, and shake. Shake. And shake some more. My husband shook it long enough and hard enough that we easily got whipped cream (just add a bit of sweetener and you can ditch your Miracle Whip). We couldn’t get butter though.

Using a Mixer

If you’re looking for an arm work out, you can spend 20 minutes shaking your cream, but then you’ll want to add it your mixer. I’ve used both my hand mixer and my Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Or  you can just add your cream to your mixer from the beginning. Mix until you’ve got clumps of yellow forming. The liquid you see is buttermilk.

Keep going. Fill a small bowl halfway with cold water, add a handful of ice cubes. Once your clumps start forming larger clumps, large enough to handle, remove from mixer. Pour the liquid (buttermilk) into another container. Place the solid mass in cheesecloth and squeeze over the buttermilk container. Get as much of the liquid out now.

Now, place the solid mass in the bowl of ice water. Using your hands, squeeze the mass. Rough it up here. You want to squeeze through the whole mass of butter to get out as much of the liquid as possible. This is called “working and washing”. You’ll want to replace your water and ice a couple times throughout this process until the water begins to clear.

You can salt your butter, although I prefer sweetcream over salted. Add herbs now for a tasty herded spread. Store in an airtight container.

What should you do with buttermilk?


Pie crust.
French toast.
Batter for coconut shrimp.
The possibilities are truly endless here.

Have you ever made (or considered making) your own butter? What technique do you use?

5 responses to “Make it at Home: Butter

  1. Real butter is sooooo YUMMY!! A buttermold will be arriving in a package to you soon!!! And I had a great time experimenting with the MAKE IT AT HOME recipes we tried while I was there.


  2. Andy, I am so impressed. Did it take the whole class?? Kevin worked on it for about 25 minutes, and I'm not sure if you've seen him, but the guy has some muscles (and endurance)! 🙂 It would have been cool to make it that way, maybe just once though.


  3. Pingback: Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter | The Ezer Wife·

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