Homemade Butter: Our First Experience

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Last week we had a half gallon of cream that needed to be used up and Matt had been talking about making butter using the mason jar method.

You remember right? It’s the method your 1st grade teacher used as she sat you all in a circle instructing you to take turns shaking the jar? Yeah, that one.

Since I didn’t have the energy of 26 1st graders to make this happen, I needed the brute strength of one good husband to finish off the project. Thanks Matt!

On a quiet afternoon I poured some of the cream into a glass jar and joined Matt on the porch for some relaxation. I began shaking my jar full of cream as I rocked on the porch. The twist to this story – I didn’t get to relax much, and we ended up with not-quite-yet-butter. (Trying a project first and then researching the correct method is usually my M.O.) But you never know until you try. Right?!

The mason jar method is only one (hard) way to make butter – I like to call it the Bicep Builder Method. There are simpler ways butter can be made at home using a food processor, stand mixer, or blender. I think we’ll try it in our food processor or Vitamix next time and save the bicep workout for the weight room. (Read about how easy making butter in a blender is here.)

Make butter in a jar: The Bicep Builder Method

Homemade Butter 1

1. Add cream to a jar.

Use a jar with a tight fitting lid. We used a quart mason jar and filled it only about half way so the contents could move when shaken. Hint: higher quality cream yields higher quality butter.

2. Shake vigorously.

Homemade Butter 2

You’ll want at least one more person to help out with this stage.

No matter which method you use, cream will go through a few stages. First, it will turn into whipped cream, then into a grainy-looking curd-like substance with liquid. Don’t stop there.

Homemade Butter 3

This is where we stopped, all excited, then ended up with the white curdled stuff that’s somewhere in between whipped cream and butter.

You’ll want to continue shaking until you have a solid lump of butter that separates from the liquid in the jar. This may take about 30 minutes of vigorous shaking. If using an appliance to make it, the butter will take on a lightly golden color when finished.

Homemade Butter 4

Notice the curdled-looking cream. We prematurely stopped shaking here.

3. Strain off liquid.

Homemade Butter 5

The liquid is pure buttermilk! It can be strained into another jar and saved for pancakes, drinking, or other baking projects. Strain off as much liquid as possible. We used a fork to release the remaining liquid from the butter. It took us several minutes of “kneading” with a fork and straining repeatedly. You can also scoop out the butter, wrap it in cheesecloth or a clean tea towel, and squeeze to release the liquid.

4. Rinse butter.

This is a step we found out about after we made our first batch. I read that rinsing under tepid water is best. Water that is too warm will turn your butter to a mushy mess, and water that’s too cold will cause the butter to harden and make it difficult to work with.

For this step you can leave it in the jar, the cheesecloth/tea towel, or scoop it out onto a plate where the butter can be smooshed around with a spatula. Rinse until liquid runs clear from the butter, and squeeze/strain all liquid off.

Pack butter into a container for storage.

5. Add salt to taste.

Homemade Butter 7

If you like salted butter, this is the time to add just a bit of salt. Try adding about ¼-½ teaspoon at a time, working it in, and tasting. The addition of salt will also help preserve the butter. (Find unrefined sea salt here.)

6. Refrigerate.

We have read that it will only last a few weeks in the refrigerator, so try freezing if you have too much.

For freezing, a piece of waxed paper can be pressed on the top surface of the butter if storing in a container. You could also mold your butter into rectangles, balls, etc., and wrap in waxed paper for the freezer.

If you have a butter bell you can add a little water to the bottom of the crock and keep fresh butter unrefrigerated for several days.

Lessons we learned…

Homemade Butter 8

Even though our impatience yielded not-quite-yet-butter, it still tastes delicious and looks beautiful. I enjoyed it on some zucchini bread this morning and we’ve spread it on toast and warm veggies.

Next time we’ll use one of our wonderful kitchen appliances to speed the process and save me from developing a Popeye forearm. Processing the butter longer and rinsing it will also be part of our next experience.

Have you ventured into butter-making at home? Tell us about your experience and share any lessons learned with the community.

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Betsy Jabs

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

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Comments

  1. Thomas says

    I made butter like this when I was a kid. I was in the hardware store and saw the paint shaker which gave me a idea. The next week I bought some cream,put it in the jar and rode my bike the two blocks to the hardware store and asked them to put it in the paint shaker. It took about two minutes to make the butter and the clerks had a ball doing it. I did that many times over the next few years and I think they had more fun then I did.

    • Brian says

      Reading the comments about all the shaking required, I thought of the same thing! The new paint shakers at some stores are able to handle a 5 gallon bucket. Much quicker and a bunch of butter!

  2. diane says

    Homemade butter is awesome if you add a little pumpkin spice to the mixture…spread that on a nice piece of warm bread and see the smiles spread 🙂

  3. Amanda says

    The price for heavy whipping cream is so high here it is not really worth making your own butter. I saw this recipe on the web last week and was so excited to try it but the ingredients for this is 4times the price of store bought butter. Maybe I need to research how to turn milk into cream and then the cream into butter. LOL

  4. Leslie says

    This information was so informative, i paln to try this as soon as i find an inexpensive place to purchase the heavy whipping cream. We use a lot of butter in our home so I’m sure we will benefit greatly.

  5. Rita says

    I made butter this weekend with Heavy Whipping Cream. My kids love to do this and its a great way to spend time with them.

  6. Kim says

    We have made butter using the jar method and it was good, just long and tired arms. We mixed it in the miser this time and it was so much faster and easier and turned out even better! Now to make the butter milk!

  7. Michelle says

    my husband and I like to make out own butter, we tried making it with heavy cream…we pour heavy cream in a glass bowl, then use the mixer to beat it…we either add sugar (for sweet butter) or salt…it tastes soooo much better than store bought.

  8. Greg says

    Add me to the list of those who need a little clarification on what type of cream to use. Is it heavy whipping cream (that you *could* buy in a grocery store), or is there somewhere else to find this type of “cream”.

    We have plenty of farmers markets around, so I imagine we have easy access to this, I would just like to make sure I get the right stuff when we go out. Where do you guys source yours from?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      We purchase our heavy cream from the farmer we buy our raw milk from. It would be a great idea to start some dialogue with farmers @ your local farmer’s markets and see who’s selling cream from pasture-fed cows who aren’t being given hormones/antibiotics. You could purchase organic heavy cream at the grocery store, but there are so many benefits to buying from a local farmer if you can.

  9. L says

    It doesn’t take much to do so, Ruth. We used old lumber (you can use pallets), some old rafters that were given to us, old boards & countertops for the roof (covered with a large tarp) and put square flax bales all around the walls for insulation and to actually create the walls. They are secured in place so that they don’t fall.

    You will want cats to keep the mice down, and some muscovy ducks are invaluable to clean up the extra grain, mice and some snakes (if you have them). Our floor is dirt and the ground is sloped so things run out. Straw is used to keep things clean and removed promptly whenever soiled. Smell is next to non-exsistent. The space for milking is minimal with enough room to tie the cow (we use a chain to attach to her chain necklace), and enough room to move in case of a kick. We have a large nail to hang the pail up and out of the way when empty and full.

    If you want to do it, you can find a way and it doesn’t have to break the bank. have fun!

  10. Ruth says

    In our area, we have a local farm that sells shares of milk from their dairy cows. (legal in our state) You receive a gallon of milk per week. I haven’t actually taken advantage of it because we have 9 people drinking milk in our family and easily go through 4 gallons plus. I think about the benefits of hormone free milk, homemade butter, and all these great ideas previously posted, but I have a cost problem. ($28/mo for 4 gal) What are some of your thoughts…..should I or shouldn’t I?

    • L says

      I am taking a leap here and hoping that you live in the country…is there any way you can *keep* a good Jersey cow (perfect for volume of milk and volume and richness of cream) or find out if you can “share” (or split the cost and care of) a cow with someone else who might live in the country privately? Depending where she is in her lactation, our Jersey gives up to 2 1/2 – 3 gallons of milk a milking (twice a day), with organic feeds (rolled barley for her milking treat), no medications, etc. I would urge you to look into that if you haven’t. That cow share sounds super, super expensive and really not worth your while when you might be able to do the same!

      If you are in the country, this can be very cost effective. Especially if you can do a cow share yourself and make a bit extra. We find that we go through more milk than most, and our kids are still very young. We consume about 1 1/2 gallons of milk a day, in drinking alone. We found that even when we were consuming way less than that in a day, that we were saving ourselves a couple of thousand dollars a year, even with the expenses of keeping a cow. At that time, we saved on milk, cream and butter. Now that I know how to make cheese and a few other things, we do use more than 1 1/2 gal. in a day, but we have the opportunity to save even more.

      It doesn’t have to take away from life, as many might say (tying you down), instead it can enrich it greatly. It is great for children to learn responsibility and more. It can be a family activity. If you keep your calf on (ours is still on at almost a year old), we have the flexibility of leaving her on and skipping a milking here and there. To boot, we will have lovely meat once it comes time for butchering, saving us even more.

      • Ruth says

        Thankyou, L, for your advice. We moved from the suburbs to more of a rural area, and the kids are loving it. I have often thought about getting a cow, but to be honest, I am a little intimidated by it never having done that sort of thing. We have the land but no structure for housing ‘Ol Bessie. It really sounds like it would be worth our while all the way around because we go halves on our beef right now at butchering time. Sounds like something we should look into 🙂

  11. Denny51 says

    I used to make butter using this method when I taught preshcool. There is one difference though. We used baby food jars and added a marble to the jar to help with the mixing of the butter when the jar was shaken. It made beautiful smooth creamy butter that way. For myself, my preference has always been to use my blender. It makes really nice creamy butter that way.

  12. AngelBatwitch says

    I have made butter many times using heavy cream for family gatherings. Depending on what’s being served, I will make several butters, some with a spice like cinnamon or cloves or nutmeg or maybe with herbs like rosemary or garlic or lavender. It’s super easy to make and I use the hand mixer to do it. I’m way too old and out of shape to do it with a jar. lol

  13. Marla B. says

    Thanks for the post. I have a video of the West Ladies “Dairy Delights” from the Homestead Blessing collection made by Franklin Springs that demonstrated this method along with other homemade dairy dishes. I went to my local salvage store & bought some small whipping cream cartons for .99 cents each & made homemade butter & honey-butter. It is delish! I made it while sitting on the couch watching TV & worked out my arms and shoulders. It has to sit out for a bit in order to be soft enough to spread, but it is better than all of that whipped up imitation butter. I am in the market for some fresh milk straight from a dairy farmer, but have not found any near me. Unfortunately, my local salvage store does not carry it regularly. The cream is nearly $6.00 for a quart at my local WalMart & I just refuse to pay that. I am looking to cut out the middle man. So we are using the store-bought for now.

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