Butter-making adventure fills winter afternoon

Susan Manzke
Susan shakes the jar of heavy cream.

Ever since our children grew up, wintertime has given me a challenge finding subjects for a new column every week. While they were young and crazy, the kids always had some kind of adventure that would inspire a column. These days I have to find a way to write from week to week about something.

Today a simple conversation gave me inspiration for this column.

Our daughter, Rebecca and her husband, Andy were visiting. I reminded Rebecca that she left a container of heavy cream here the last time they visited—It was an ingredient in a recipe. Since we rarely use heavy cream, I said she should take the carton home.

“Why don’t you use it, Mom?”

“That would be too much whipped cream for the two of us.”

“Then make butter out of it,” Rebecca said.

I thought about her suggestion. The last time I made butter from scratch it was a mistake. I had been trying to make whipped cream but I whipped it a few minutes too long and was totally surprised when I ended up with butter.

Our discussion turned toward making butter from scratch. Rebecca wanted to know exactly how to make it—the right way—so she got out her phone and Googled home-made butter recipes. She came across a suggestion perfect for a family with small children.

Take a canning jar (we used a quart jar) and filled it two-thirds of the way full with heavy cream. From that point, all we had to do was to shake the well-closed jar for twenty minutes.

Though there were four of us together, 99% of the shaking fell on Rebecca and me—Bob at least held onto the jar and gave it a little shake. Andy said he had a sore shoulder and begged off.

We set a timer for twenty minutes and Rebecca started shaking the canning jar. 

After a few minutes, I took my turn shaking the jar. It had a lot of space for the cream to shake around at the beginning.

Jar of whipped cream after twenty minutes of shaking.

Twenty minutes later, we were tired, and only had a jar full of whipped cream.

“I could have driven to town, bought butter, and driven home by now. That would have been much easier,” said Rebecca. “We could stop now. You could always use the whipped cream.” Our daughter also, knew I had a pound of butter already in our refrigerator.

“But we were making butter,” I objected. At this point, I had put on my jacket to go outside to feed our chickens, collect eggs, and retrieve our mail. Ten minutes later I returned to take my turn shaking the cream.

Rebecca showed me the jar. “I think we almost have butter,” she said.

It was true. There was a definite change in the jar. After a few more minutes of shaking the buttermilk had separated from the butter. 

In the kitchen, we poured the mixture into a sieve and voila, we had butter and buttermilk. Tasting took place as we basked in our accomplishment.

Buttermilk strained from butter after about thirty minutes of shaking.

I recommend this activity for families needing an inside activity during bad weather—if the jar is abandoned before butter is made, feel free to pour it into a bowl and use an electric mixer to finish the process. That’s is much faster, but not so much fun.

FYI: Bob's cancer issues are being addressed with medications. Some days are better than others. The fight continues with the whole family standing together.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;; www.susanmanzke,net/blog.