I Can’t Believe Its Butter

I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She wasn’t as smart as Mary and not as cute as Carrie, but she was happy being Laura. Always grinning and up for fun with her sisters or Pa. The contented middle daughter. A bit like yours truly.

We made butter last week. Twice. Three different kinds.

butter varieties

Prairie living dreams come true for this Laura Ingalls wannabe.  The kids had fun too.  I mean, we made butter, and then we ate it a lot of different ways. It’s hard not to like.

I know.  Many more amazing things have been created since the Prairie days. Space shuttles, iPhones, Rainbow Loom.  I can’t make those things but I can make butter.

And you can too.

how to make butter

Really, that’s it. Homemade Butter in 5 Minutes.

I read about a zillion variations and fancy tweaks to this recipe on-line, but this simple recipe we learned during family day at The Fells, a historic estate and conservation area in New Hampshire, worked just right and FAST!

DIY Butter

1. Buy a quart of heavy cream. Whipping cream may work, milk might work, but so far I’ve only tried heavy cream.

2. Leave the cream out on the counter (scary, I know) for 11 hours.

3. Fill a 12 ounce glass jar with about a cup of cream (leave some room at the top) and close the jar tight. Then shake.  Let the kids shake it until they get tired. They can even roll the jar gently on a soft surface. After a few minutes, you will feel and see the cream thickening, eventually to a solid ball of butter.

4.  Place in a colander, reserving the buttermilk in a separate container.  Mix in any additions you like (we added honey and cinnamon to one batch, sea salt to another).

5. Rinse under cold water to wash away any remaining cream.

You may also press it in between waxed paper to squeeze out any cream, and if you want REALLY perfect butter (with no little droplets of cream remaining), you can then put your butter in a blender. We did not take these extra steps.  Do you think the Ingalls girls had waxed paper? And have you ever cleaned butter out of a blender?

Ours came out just fine.

butter trio

What is going on here?  According to our guide at The Fells, heavy cream is mostly water and butter fat. When the cream is shaken, the butter fat globules begin to join together.  The leftover liquid is buttermilk.

What do you do with all that buttermilk? After making four batches with our quart of cream, we had nearly two cups of reserved buttermilk, just enough to make a batch of Martha Stewart’s Buttermilk Waffles.


I’m so glad real butter is back in fashion again after too many years of margarine and “not butter” chemicals.  If you are afraid of butter, you should really meet Seymour, my grandmother’s 95 year old boyfriend, still lean and healthy after years of spreading pat after pat of butter on his toast and potatoes. It may be good genes and his active lifestyle – Seymour bowled and golfed until very recently and still dances a mean tango now and then – but I like to think the butter has something to do with it.

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  1. I had no idea you could do this in a jar! Can’t wait to try it with the kids!

  2. Katie Herr says:

    This is something I’ll definitely try with the kids. I laughed out loud at your reflections on the Ingalls family dynamics. We middle children need to stick together!

  3. Jen Hassett says:

    I love this, and I am so with you on butter being back in style! Fad eating/dieting is so lame… The French have got it right: Full Fat. Small Portions. (and an occasional cigarette, too! 🙂 Keep up the fine work! I want to see croissants next. XOXO

  4. bonnie says:

    So cool. I always thought butter came from supermarkets. Really, I knew it came from cream but I thought you had to churn it!

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