Churn, vessel or utensil for making butter by shaking the cream and so separating the serous from the fatty parts. An early type of churn was an upright wooden vessel, shaped like a travelling metal milk can, in which the cream was worked by a wooden plunger by hand. To this succeeded a wooden box, in which moved a splasher or dasher, a small wooden wheel like a water wheel, turned by a crank by hand. Large churns are now turned by machinery, and revert in a way to the primitive form by being revolved or swinging on themselves by mechanical means.
Good churns should be of seasoned oak-wood, and so constructed with removable splashers or dashers that they can be easily and thoroughly cleansed after use. In modern large churns glass lights are fitted through which the butter can be watched as it begins to form, and the exact moment for withdrawing the buttermilk can be ascertained.
Churn is also commonly used as a term describing the metal containers in which milk is collected and transported.