It has been a long time. We've been working hard, trying to get to the end of the school year. Last week they did their PASS tests (standardized tests are required every 3 years) and now we are DONE until July 19. I've already ordered all the books for the next school year and waiting patiently for them to come. As they arrive I've been piling them on the family room coffee table...any more and we won't be able to see the t.v.
Turtle has camp in a few weeks. She is going away for 2 weeks and can't wait. This means a lot of prep. She needed new summer clothes (she just won't stop growing) and the list the camp gave us seems endless. This has nothing to do with butter however so I better get to that before you think I've lost my mind.
Over the weekend we realized we were out of butter. My family loves hot cereal in the morning for breakfast with butter and cream in it but being Memorial day weekend, in a resort area, I was NOT going to the store. This seemed like a perfect time to try making our own butter. This is a project I have been wanting to do for a while. I honestly didn't think it would be as easy as it is.
To make your own butter, take a jar and fill it half way with heavy cream. Close it tight and hand it to your kids. Let them shake, shake, shake; an up and down movement seems to be best. It will slosh around in the jar for a few minutes and then they will tell you that it feels like nothing is sloshing anymore. It will get a little harder to shake. This is the whipped cream stage. Keep shaking! All of a sudden it will get easier to shake and you'll see the chunks of butter separate from the buttermilk. Keep shaking until you get a glob of butter. From 1 cup of cream you'll end up with half a cup of butter and half a cup of buttermilk. We simply drain the buttermilk from the butter and stick each in their own jar. We add a scant 1/4 tsp. salt to the 1/2 cup of butter we get (we fill each jar with 1/2 cup cream and that gives us 1/4 cup each of butter) and stir it together. Then I cover the jar and put it in the refrigerator.
I've seen where people gently squeeze the butter in a cheesecloth and then put the butter back into the jar with some very cold, fresh water. They mix it together and then shake the jar again. Drain the water and then add some more and repeat until the water is clear. This gets out all the buttermilk and helps lengthen the life of the butter. We haven't done this yet as the butter doesn't seem to stick around long anyway. Maybe with a bigger batch we will try it.
To store it, we simply put it back in the jar but I've read where people use a butter bell (it is on my wish list) or put it in a jar, packed as much as possible then top with fresh cold water. They even store it out of the refrigerator (which would just bother me too much).
My kids love making the butter. They now want to try different brands of cream to see if it makes different tasting butter. We are going to pick up organic cream (which I think tastes better) for the next batch.
Oh, and that wonderful buttermilk! If you don't like buttermilk try the buttermilk that comes from your butter making. It isn't as tart and has a wonderful creamy flavor. We would like to try making pancakes with it, but can't seem to keep from drinking it, it is so good.
This is a fun project that you can make part of your science or history class. If you are doing a unit study on Colonial times or reading the Little House books, this would really be fun along with making homemade white bread, corn bread or biscuits (which you can use the buttermilk for). If you happen to take a field trip to a dairy (maybe as part of a unit study on farms) see if you can get some fresh cream as I bet that would make the best butter. I may have to become friends with the people who own the dairy down the road. Even if you can't, a talk about all the wonderful products that come from dairy cows will go along well with this project as well as some homemade ice cream and maybe some cheese.
As a side note...I've seen how other people make this with their stand mixer and the beater attachment. I have not tried this as it is more fun for the kids to use a jar. It is also less of a mess and less dishes to wash; so I think we'll keep doing it this way.
Next time, I'll take some pictures to share.