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Churning Butter

                 Jack's grandmother gave me my first churn and taught me how to make butter when our boys were very young.  We really enjoyed having a milk cow.  Our boys loved milk, and I never had to stop what I was doing and go to the store to get some.  During their elementary school years, Jack and I were both working, and it became very difficult to get all the farm chores done and take care of a cow.  We sold the cow, and for years we talked about buying another one.  Then finally, in November of 2011, we found Maple and Violet.  They were perfect family milk cows.  I never want to be without a milk cow again.  There are so many things you can do with raw milk.  It is a complete and balanced food.  That means if you don't have anything but milk, you can live on it.  Milk has everything your body needs.  I've talked about how healthy raw milk is on the Healthy Eating segment of our radio show.  You can listen to it here.

                  I have always loved churning butter.  It is so much better than what you buy in the store.  I churn about three times a week, so I have a lot of butter.  Freezing butter does not hurt it, so I put make it in a half pound roll and take out what I need to cook with or to spread on homemade bread or rolls.  Before we get to the steps in churning butter, here are some different ways to churn.


This is the type of churn that people used to use before we had electricity.  The dasher was moved up and down until the cream separates into butter and buttermilk.

This is another old churn that does not require electricity.  You can find one in antique stores or on e-bay.  Just turn the crank until the butter separates.

If you don't have anything else and can't afford to buy a churn, you can use a Mason jar.  Fill the jar no more than half full.  The cream will expand before the butter separates.  Shake the jar until you see chunks of butter floating in the buttermilk.


This is the electric churn that I use.
I like it because it holds a lot of cream and I can get my churning done without having to churn several times.  If you don't want to buy a churn like this and don't have much cream, you can use your electric blender but be careful that you stop the blender when you see chunks of butter.


Step 1

After I milk and strain the milk into a bucket, I put a lid on the bucket and put in the refrigerator.  In a couple of days, the cream is thick and easy to skim off the top of the milk.  I save the skimmed milk to make cottage cheese.  I usually churn 4 to 6 quarts of cream.  I start out by putting my cream in the churn.  Don't fill the churn much over half full.  You need room for the cream to expand.  I plug it in and the dasher whips the butter like an electric beater.  It will look like whipped cream for a while before the butter separates.  Since this churn is glass, I can see when the chunks of butter separate and float in the buttermilk.

Step 2

When it looks like all the butter has separated, put a colander in a large pot and pour the contents of the churn into the colander.  The colander will catch the butter and the butter milk will go through the holes into the pot.

Step 3

What is strained out of the butter is real buttermilk.  It is sweet buttermilk.  We are used to the buttermilk that comes from the store.  It is cultured buttermilk, and it is thick.  Jack's grandfather loved sweet buttermilk and would always complain if Granny didn't leave lots of little chunks of butter in it.  If you don't like sweet buttermilk, you can feed it to your chickens or dogs and cats, or you can pour it on your garden.  It has lots of nutrients.


Step 4

Now back to the butter.  You want to rinse all of the buttermilk out of the butter that you can.  I put the colander into the sink and spray the butter with cold water from the sink's spray attachment.  I use my hands to squeeze the buttermilk out of the butter while I spray it with water.

Step 5

Next, I scoop out a chunk of butter with my hand and hold it under the running water, squeezing out more of the buttermilk.  As the water runs over it, I knead it like bread dough.  The idea is to rinse out as much of the buttermilk as you can.

Step 6

When it looks like all the buttermilk has been rinsed out, I flatten the butter in my hand and sprinkle salt over the top of it.  The salt is optional, but it does give the butter flavor and helps to preserve it.  I use about a teaspoon to a pound of butter.  What I have in my hand is about half a pound and I sprinkle salt on top of the butter.  You don't have to be exact.  I sprinkle what I think looks like half a teaspoon.  Knead the salt into the butter by folding it over and over until it is well mixed.

Step 7

If I have a plastic container that has been emptied, I wash it and use it as a butter container.
Or I lay it on a sheet of wax paper and roll it up to put in the freezer.

Step 8

When I have finished, I have about 2 1/2 pounds of butter to put in the freezer.  I use a gallon freezer and put the date on it.  I can take the butter out of the freezer as I need it, and I try to use the oldest date first.

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