“At first the splashes of cream showed thick and smooth….After a long time, they began to look grainy. Then Ma churned more slowly, and on the dash there began to appear tiny grains of yellow butter.”
In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura recalls how she and Mary would help Ma make homemade butter. Not only would they churn it in a butter churn, but then they would color it with carrot juice, and mold it into pretty shapes for their visitors. Making the butter beautiful was a nice touch that Ma added to the butter-making process. But for all her extra touches, making simple homemade butter with kids is quite easy.
You only need a few supplies and some willing helpers with strong arms to enjoy this time-honored tradition. It’s the perfect family fun activity, so you can pass the jar around when one person’s arms get tired. It’s also an excellent complement to your reading of the Little House books.
Supplies for Making Homemade Butter
Instructions for Making Butter With Kids
Pour cold heavy whipping cream into the mason jar. Make sure you only fill it half way so that there’s plenty of room to shake the liquid around. If you’re pressed for time, use a few clean marbles inside the jar to make the whole process move more quickly. Don’t worry if you don’t have marbles available; the butter will just take a little bit longer to form.
Secure the lid and begin shaking. Depending on many factors (ultra-pasteurization, marbles, strength), this step may take anywhere from 8 – 15 minutes of continuous shaking. This is where it’s helpful to have multiple participants.
About halfway through, you’ll begin to hear a difference in the shaking sound. Go ahead and open up the container to show the kids that it’s working! You should be able to see the beginning of the butter and the buttermilk separating. Add salt, put the lid back on, and keep shaking!
Once you feel like there’s a solid mass shaking around in the jar, the butter should be done. Use a strainer to separate the butter from the buttermilk and transfer each to their own container. Butter will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator, so it’s a good idea to make a batch of biscuits and use up that butter quickly!
Hope you have fun making homemade butter! It’s a great way to teach children how food was made before the modern conveniences of grocery stores. If you make your butter and some fresh biscuits ahead of time, they would be a great complement to a Little House on the Prairie inspired picnic.
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