How to Make Butter

How to Make Butter (or how to take one small step away from reliance on the food industry)

Butter. It’s probably one of the easiest things I have ever made, and yet it took me 37 years to get around to doing it. Why? I think it’s because whenever I thought of making butter, I had a vision of a woman from Medieval times, wearing a long gray dress with her hair in a kerchief, churning cream in a wooden barrel, the task taking hours.

Upon deeper introspection, the real reason I have never made butter is because I’ve never had to. Why would I bother? Just like it’s easier to buy milk in a grocery store rather than go out and find my own cow to milk, why would I buy a carton of cream only to take it home and whip it into butter? My answer is this: Because becoming complacent about how to make food from scratch can dangerously affect the way that we as general consumers relate to our food, and our non-complacency is giving food industrialists the green light to control what we eat and how we eat it. I don’t know about you, but that scares me. I want some say in what I eat.

Our Dependence on the Food Industry

Butter may not be a processed food, but it is the first step in a decades-long trend of providing consumers with ready-made food products. These may save time, but I think they are thwarting people’s need to learn how to prepare their own foods. Need a lasagna? Don’t know how to make one yourself? No problem, just head on down to your local grocer or specialty shop and you can find whatever kind you want to fill your dietary preferences. Craving a hamburger? Just ask your husband to pick up some frozen patties on his way home from work.

How many of us know how to make our own tortillas? Perogies? Ice cream? Crackers? How many of us have even ever considered making our own? It’s very easy to never consider making these items, because the food industry has grown our culture into a food product-dependent society. And most of us aren’t even aware that this has happened, because we’ve been dependent on junk food, fast food and processed foods our whole lives.

One Thing My Family is Doing to Become Less Reliant on the Food Industry

I’ve just started getting raw milk from a local farmer. The first thing I wanted to do when I received my first gallon of raw milk was make my own butter. I have been drinking soy milk for the past decade, and it is going to take me awhile to build up my taste and  tolerance for drinking cow’s milk, so I need to do more with the milk besides drink it. When I get a thermometer I also plan to make my own yogurt and cheese.

The day I brought it home I very carefully transported it, making sure not to shake up the milk, which had separated, and almost a quart of cream was floating at the top. At home I showed my girls and explained that fresh cow’s milk is not all that different from mommy’s milk. If I were to pump breast milk into a bottle and let it sit, a thick cream would form at the top of it too. They watched as I skimmed the cream with a ceramic ladle and put it into its own jar, which my six year old labeled “cream” with a sharpie on a green piece of painter’s tape.

Taste Testing Raw Milk

I gave each the girls a taste of this real cream. One loved it, the other spit it out. These girls have been brought up with soy milk in their cereal bowls, so it was no wonder at least one of them didn’t like it. I decided to try something different. “Let’s see if we can make whipped cream,” I suggested. They thought that was awesome. So I measured out 2 cups and put it in my blender. After 20 seconds or less in the blender we had our whipped cream. I spooned some out and added some raw sugar and vanilla. That sure tasted better! While they shared a dollop of that I ran the blender again to make some butter.

How to Make Butter

Nope, you don’t need a butter churn to make butter. All you need is a working blender. And this is what you do:

  • Put 2 cups of heavy cream into a blender and turn it on high.
  • Turn it off when the sound of the blender changes, and use a spatula to scrape the cream down the sides.
  • Turn on the blender again and repeat this step a few times until the cream and whey separate and the blender runs smoothly.
  • At this point, turn the blender off and wait a couple minutes for the butter and whey to separate.
  • Then, using a spoon and a sieve, pour out the whey into a separate container, pressing the liquid out as needed, until all you have left is butter.

Washing Butter: To make your butter last longer, you will need to “wash” it. Here is how:

  • Add some ice cold water to the blender and blend again for a few seconds.
  • Pour out the water and press out the remainder of the whey. What you have left is butter.

To see photos of a butter-making tutorial check out this post at Food Renegade.

The above photo is a picture of my butter and my first piece of bread I spread it on, because of course you will want to try this immediately. It was to die for. That night I made these spelt scones, slathered with butter, and a cream of vegetable soup. Yum.

You can just as easily make your own butter from pasteurized cream. I would buy a container of heavy or whipping cream and use that. Once you’ve tried it you might not want to go back to buying butter. Enjoy!

Photo credit: author


Melodie is the mom of two girls (ages 3 and 6) and the author of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! where she talks a lot about breastfeeding a pre-schooler, but also provides tips and education about breastfeeding in general. She is also passionate about mom-to-mom support, natural/attachment parenting, real food, and vegetarianism. Melodie is also home schooling her oldest daughter, and has just returned to her mental health career after 6 years of being a SAHM.

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