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Making Your Own Homemade Butter

Updated on November 12, 2014
Finished raw butter
Finished raw butter | Source

Making Your Own Butter Is Easier Than You Think!

At the early 20th century, butter was something that most people still made for themselves. Just 100 years later, most people don't have the faintest idea of how butter is made, and a high percentage probably aren't even eating butter made from dairy anymore.

Natural, organic butter is a lot healthier than modern society would have you think, and making it yourself doesn't have to take a lot of time or any fancy equipment. One benefit of making it yourself is that you do get some exercise (lots of shaking). Another is that you wind up with a much smaller amount, not the pounds and pounds that come fast from the store. This helps in that you pick and choose when you're going to eat it instead of using it constantly.

At the very least, this makes a great rainy day project for the kids, and will teach them a lot about where food comes from and how it gets made.

Ready to make your own butter?

raw whipping cream, photo by Rae Schwarz
raw whipping cream, photo by Rae Schwarz

Why bother making butter yourself?

That's actually a good question!

For most of my life, I didn't think much about butter. Eventually I arrived at the special time of life called "middle age" when your digestion and metabolism often shift and you start to think more about what you eat and what it does to your body. There are some foods that give me inflammatory issues, which is a fancy way of saying that when I eat certain stuff, it makes my knees and ankles start to crackle. If I eat a lot, they might even hurt.

I took a food class on inflammation and learned one of key triggers from some people is dairy. For me dairy isn't as bad as several other foods. But as I got more and more into fine-tuning what I was eating, I found myself reading wider and wider on inflammation. It's annoying and there's no one way to deal with it. Then my sister (who took the same class and was grappling with the same issue but different foods) read me something out of book she'd found at the library one night.

While milk can be very inflammatory to some people (including her), it turns out that there is a whole family of nutrients in RAW milk that get destroyed by pasteurization (heating) and homogenization (permanent blending) which actually protect joints against calcification (a huge cause of inflammation). Wow, there was no mention of that the the class we took!

Lucky us, we live in a state where you can buy raw milk right from the producer at farmer's markets. But selling raw butter is not legal. We did some testing (a fancy word for eating) of the raw milk and my sister didn't have any reaction at all. I decided to commit to trying to only eat or drink raw diary and see if over the course of several months there is any change in my knees and ankles. And that's what put me on the path to making my own raw butter.

Getting Started...

To make butter, you need to start with cream. Heavy whipping cream. This has the high concentration of butter fat you need.

This may sound wrong, but you will want to let your cream sit out at room temperature for about 8-12 hours. This allows it to sour ever so slightly. This actually makes it a lot easier to get the butter fat to come together.

Pour your thickened cream into a jar that is twice as big as the volume of cream. You need the space, especially if shaking.

Making Homemade Butter By Shaking - a straight-up butter-making method

Making homemade butter can be as easy as getting some heavy whipping cream and an empty jar. This is a great way to do it with kids or for folks who don't want to have a lot of kitchen gear to clean up afterwards. I found this to be the most helpful of all the videos I watched on beginning butter-making.

Making Butter with a Stick Blender - from cream to soft butter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
After the cream has sat out for a while, it thickens and sours slightly.Pulsing gently with a stick blender causes concussion which makes the fat in the cream start to clump.You can see the clumps starting to thicken.Small globs start to form in the cream.Here is the butter when it is first strained from the buttermilk.
After the cream has sat out for a while, it thickens and sours slightly.
After the cream has sat out for a while, it thickens and sours slightly. | Source
Pulsing gently with a stick blender causes concussion which makes the fat in the cream start to clump.
Pulsing gently with a stick blender causes concussion which makes the fat in the cream start to clump. | Source
You can see the clumps starting to thicken.
You can see the clumps starting to thicken. | Source
Small globs start to form in the cream.
Small globs start to form in the cream. | Source
Here is the butter when it is first strained from the buttermilk.
Here is the butter when it is first strained from the buttermilk. | Source

Don't Over-whip/blend!

One of the tricks to making butter is to make sure you do not over-whip or over-blend the butter. It won't be a total disaster if you do, but when that happens it means that too much buttermilk gets mashed in with the forming butter fats. This makes permanent soft butter spread and not firm butter.

Don't feel bad if this happens! Your soft, spreadable butter will still taste good. But be sure to eat it more quickly, as the increased buttermilk can lead it to spoil faster.

Traditional Butter Paddles - for draining and firming up the butter

Birch Wood Butter Paddles 8.5 Inch
Birch Wood Butter Paddles 8.5 Inch

These are the traditional paddles used to drain butter and make it more firm. Basically they help squeeze water and excess buttermilk out of the butter fat.

 

Straining and Rinsing Your Soft Butter - firming up and finishing the butter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Once rinsed, the butter starts to become more firm and look like commercial butter.When you strain the buttermilk, save it aside.  More butter frequently forms up as you work the first big lumps.A very fine strainer will catch the butter fat and allow it to make bigger clumps.Working it with paddles squeezes out more water and buttermilk, making the spread with which we are familiar.
Once rinsed, the butter starts to become more firm and look like commercial butter.
Once rinsed, the butter starts to become more firm and look like commercial butter. | Source
When you strain the buttermilk, save it aside.  More butter frequently forms up as you work the first big lumps.
When you strain the buttermilk, save it aside. More butter frequently forms up as you work the first big lumps. | Source
A very fine strainer will catch the butter fat and allow it to make bigger clumps.
A very fine strainer will catch the butter fat and allow it to make bigger clumps. | Source
Working it with paddles squeezes out more water and buttermilk, making the spread with which we are familiar.
Working it with paddles squeezes out more water and buttermilk, making the spread with which we are familiar. | Source

Interested In Making Your Own Butter?

thickened cream, photo by Rae Schwarz
thickened cream, photo by Rae Schwarz

Are you going to give butter-making a try?

See results

Other methods for making butter

Here you'll find demonstrations for other ways to make butter, from using a traditional churn, to using an Amish hand-cranked device, to using a modern electric mixer.

If you tried making your own butter, please let us know how it went! Did you have any problems? Let us know what went wrong and chances are someone (might be me, might be someone else) will come along with a suggestion for your next attempt.

Butter Banter - comments, feedback and questions

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    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @queerdoo: If you can't tell from watching and listening to the video, I'm not going to be able to help you, as I am 1) not that man and 2) non-psychic and thus can only perceive the same info as you.

    • profile image

      queerdoo 3 years ago

      I was asking about the first video where the man shakes the jar. I saw him open up the sweet cream and wanted to know what percentage of fat was in it. Thanks.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @queerdoo: If you actually read the lens, it's very clear I'm working with raw milk. With milk from the cow, your farm worker can give you a rough range, but the fat percentage will vary greatly across the season. During calving, the milk fat is so high, the milk looks yellow. Towards the end if the season, the percentage is much lower. In the end, I can't give you a specific number.

    • profile image

      queerdoo 3 years ago

      I would appreciate knowing what was the percentage of fat in the cream used for making butter in a jar? Thank you. Also, was it raw?

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Wow, it does sound easy. But for people like me who are too busy, I'd rather just buy my butter. But thanks for sharing this informative lens! I sure learned something.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @smine27: People either find they like making butter, or they don't. It's totally worth a try!

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I think I'd like to try making butter this way.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Congrats on your star. Haven't made butter in AGES but now I want to give it a whirl again... Pinned

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Coffee-Break: If I hadn't moved to a state that allows the legal sale of raw milk, who knows what I might be thinking about it.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Yes, as a matter of fact I did many times. Back in my native Romania, whipping cream was one of the things we did very often, since the commercial one was artificial. We over-whipped it a few times, so we turned it into butter.

      Funny thing, my daughter and I just had a discussion today about raw milk, and she couldn't understand why I drank raw milk, because all the information here in Canada and US says that raw milk is bad, and disgusting. I had to point her towards various articles, and info about raw milk in Europe. Kudos for writing this.

    • pericaluic profile image

      pericaluic 5 years ago

      Tomorrow I will try to make butter

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      When I am home I get some really good butter in the store - home churned. Not sure if it is raw, but it sure is tasty!

    • Euryale Sinclair profile image

      Euryale Sinclair 5 years ago from The Left Coast

      @SteveKaye: I can't do nut butters myself anymore... I have a low-grade inflammatory sensitivity to nuts. That's part of what got me exploring truly natural butter.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting lens, I used to make butter once, but looking after cows was too laborious - vineyards and wine were easier!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I'd love to make my own butter. Appreciate what you shared here about the health benefits of raw milk. Thanks and congrats on making the IMMINENT! highlight reel. Nicely done!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      My mom never had a butter churn, but she did occasionally save up enough cream from the top of the milk jugs to let us kids make butter using the shake method. We didn't enjoy that as much as Grandma's churn, but we did make delicious fresh cream butter.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      I love homemade butter. And you're right. It's so easy.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Older times are fascinating, I would love to try making my own butter.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      I'm amazed that modern dairy products have eliminated parts that were actually good for people. I'll share that we stopped buying butter years ago. Instead, I use nut butters, such as almond and walnut. Or I use olive oil for cooking. This is an excellent lens. Thank you for publishing it.

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 5 years ago

      beautiful lens, well done; thanks for sharing

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I have never made butter, but I really am tired of the store butter. Thanks for sharing the steps and pictures of how to make butter!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 5 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I've made butter before, but it was a looong time ago. I've got some fresh raw cream so I might have to try again. By the way, when you talk about leaving the cream out for several hours it means you're making cultured butter rather than the normal sweet butter. The cultures version is much better in my opinion.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I did not know that raw milk products did not cause inflammation either. That is a very important reason alone to make your own butter. Fantastic article on the pros of making butter. Thank you and congratulations on your feature.

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