Saturday, March 27, 2010

Make Butter

I love this picture of Mary Ingalls churning butter, drawn by Garth Williams, illustrator of Laura Ingalls Wilder's wonderful series of children's books about growing up in pioneer times. Mary looks proud that she can help her mother at such a young age.

This is a picture of a little churn like those which women and children used to make butter in the 1800's. We saw it in the Freeman Farmhouse at Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

My college-aged daughter and I love to work in the kitchen together when she is home. A few days ago, she made us some butter using her French butter press.

When you make butter with your young children, it's fun to shake it in a mason jar. I used to have the children sit in the grass as they shook the jar so it would have a soft place to land if it slipped. As you churn you can chant this traditional churning rhyme:

Come, butter, come,
Come, butter, come,
Johnny's standing at the gate,
Waiting for his butter cake,
Come, butter, come.

Here's a picture of an old lady churning butter. We had fun making butter, but if I had to do it every Thursday, on top of all the other endless chores of being a housekeeper in the 1800's, I'd probably look disgruntled, too.

It takes patience to make butter. But it helps if you can take turns. It's fun to watch the butter turn to whipped cream. Eventually, the butter fats starts to separate from the buttermilk. The butter clumps together in a lump and starts to slosh in the buttermilk. The butter is ready.

You should taste the buttermilk. It is delicious...much better than the sour tasting kind you buy in the store.

Wash your butter with plenty of cold water, until the water runs clear. Now mix in some salt to taste. We used kosher salt. My daughter had been soaking the butter press in ice water. She filled it with the fresh butter and chilled it.

Can you see the little cow embossed on the top of the butter pat below?

We had to make some multi-grain bread to have with the butter. Oh, yummy!

I wish I could give you a taste!

Now read "The Buttered Bread", by Maj Lindman. It's a wonderful book about where our butter comes from.


Grace said...

I love that illustration too. I have fond memories of churning butter in kindergarten! One of my two darling daughters is allergic to milk, so we'll never get the pleasure of trying this. Looks so tasty on that yummy bread.

Anonymous said...

Golly I love your blog!
The wonderful Essex farm makes butter by having their interns jump on a trampoline with a large cannister of cream. Of course they are making butter for their CSA and that's a lot of people.
Amy :>)

Phyllis said...

I love this post. I love the way you have pictured the whole process. As always, you have made a simple thing so beautiful. That is why I love your blog. Life is full of simple beauty, if you look for it and make it happen.

Beth said...

Oh, Grace! Food allergies are the pits! We have those issues here, too. Amy, the way they churn butter at Essex farm is hilarious! I'd love to see that! Thank you for your beautiful words, Phyllis. love, Beth

softearthart said...

I can taste the butter and smell the bread, you have given wonderful descriptions, a gift to any reader,this ability to draw one in. love and light Marie

KeLLy aNN said...

My grandmother had a butter churner similar to that one. We never made butter in it though.
And that's a wonderful tradition/activity to do with the family.
The only thing I would add to the fresh bread and butter would be orange marmalade or honey with the comb in it. yum!

Nadja said...

We are fortunate enough to have a Jersey cow, and when the pasture is green, we make about 3 lbs of very bright yellow butter a week! At first we had a little hand-crank churn, but with such volume I eventually got an electric churn. I don't use a butter paddle to get out the buttermilk--I knead the the butter with my hands (this won't work in summer when my hands are too warm!). I love fresh butter on freshly-baked sourdough rye bread!

Love all your posts!

Beth said...

Nadja, Marie, and Kelly Ann,

Nadja, I was so happy to hear your butter story! Do you live on a farm? Marie...thank you for your encouraging words! Kelly Ann, I DID make marmalade the same day we made the bread and butter! love, Beth

Gabriele Kubo said...

How delicious words I read here before breakfast!!
Have to phone my friend Elfriede to get me that whole wheat flour from Germany NOW! Japanese bread is all-white, all-fluffy, without any taste. You and your daughter are great cooks. Lots to achieve yet for us.
Thanks for inspiring! Up I go!

Imene said...

I didn't realize making butter was so easy! It will sure be a fun activity once it stops raining and we can be outside

Ariella said...

homemade butter is the best! You've reminded me to make some more.
Lovely post!

FrontierDreams said...

Oh we sooooo need to make some butter of our own. I am in love with this post, thank you!!

renee ~ heirloom seasons said...

I love your little story here, so many great pictures, the first is a favorite of ours too. Now that we are no longer vegan we definitely intend to make our own butter some day, but probably not always, though I'm sure my daughters would be quite happy to help :)

Unknown said...

Wonderful snaps Beth & Cammie. I love the snaps of busy hands and flowery pinnies!

Jen said...

We used to make fresh butter when I was a kid. I miss the taste so much. There's just nothing like it from a store!

Kimberly said...

i love to churn butter and bake our bread

Mahek said...

I am from India, In India butter is made regularly at home in most houses as we buy milk from packets or from sheds .. so its thick
Milk is normally boiled every morning and hence you get a thick later of cream when refrigerated which is in turn collected for about 8 days with a starter of homemade curds..
when i got married my mom in law always made butter in glass jars the way you have shown and it was the first time for me as my mom used a wooden churner used manually for the same...
you have a nice blog