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Butter Making Butter

Many times I worry about where our culture is going; head long into the future so fast it is near impossible to keep pace with the technology. In this modern world I see the vast majority of people have lost touch with the low tech skills of not that long ago. I would bet most kids couldn’t play a phonograph record or would stare blankly at a rotary phone. It is very understandable and not anything to be embarrassed about, heck, my whole family is very adept on the computer and I stare at it in amazement and appreciation (and can’t even turn it on…but I’ll learn… slowly.

It tickles me the questions asked by folks, mostly adults, like “What do you put in the milk to make it white?” or “You make butter? What do you put in it?” or my favorite dialogue , “Is that real butter”. “Yes”, “No, I mean like in the store?” My step-daughter was showing her teenage friends around the farm and one of the girls looked me in the eye and asked, “Is that the cow?”.

  1. THE MILK Start with fresh whole milk. If you don’t own a cow there are always dairies near by and you can get a gallon or two there. In a pinch, you can use whole whipping cream from the store. 2 or 3 gallons of milk can yield ¾ to 1 pound of butter depending on the butterfat content of the milk. Our cow is a Jersey and thereby has a high butterfat content in her milk. Holstein milk has a lower butterfat content. I suggest using 1 gallon glass jars with wide mouths for holding your milk.

  2. COOLING Let the milk set in the refrigerator over night until the cream comes to the top. Keeping the raw milk cold is very important if you want to drink the skimmed milk.

  3. SKIMMING Skim the cream off the top of the milk with a dipper, putting the cream into your churn. We use glass Dazey churns. Once the skimming is done, cover the churn and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours. This allows the cream to sour a bit and gives the butter that sweet flavor and helps the butter to ‘come’ faster.

  4. the equipment CHURNING After the cream has warmed to room temperature, place the churn top on and start turning the handle. If the cream is cold or too cool (or even too warm), churning can take a while. Cream that is 55-65ºF will ‘come’ in 20 to 30 minutes, give or take.

    As you turn the handle or however you do your churning, the cream goes through stages on its way to becoming butter. First it is frothy like “whipped cream” then the foam settles into a thick pudding like state. Finally as the fat globules join together making the butter, the cream gets watery. Soon the butter will ‘come’ and the cranking of the churn handle will be hard. In a dash churn, the butter will form around the dash. You’ll know when you see it. Be sure not to over churn your butter as this will only force more buttermilk into the butter.

    On our farm tours, we give the kids small plastic jars of cream and they shake the jars as we tour. In 30 minutes there is yellow butter in the jars surrounded by buttermilk. bowls & paddles

  5. WASHING Pour off the buttermilk and put the butter into your butter bowl. Some folks drink the buttermilk or use it in baking. It is not the same as the cultured buttermilk you buy in the store. Using a butter paddle, which is a wide wooden paddle, press the butter together to press out the milk and mash the clumps of butter into a mass. Once you have pressed it a minute or two, run cold water over it in the bowl and keep working the butter until the water runs off clear. Now keep paddling the butter to work out as much water as possible. Salt can be added now to taste. Keep paddling the butter to distribute the salt evenly and the water is out. You won’t get 100% of the water out, but it won’t be hard to know when to stop.
butter molds

Now your butter is finished. Freeze or refrigerate it . Homemade butter will spoil faster than store bought because there are no additives. Note: Sometimes the butter comes out white instead of yellow. Don’t panic, it is the cow’s butterfat and nothing you did wrong.

 

 
 

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Rock Falls IL
(815) 625-2607
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