We’ve all done it at school at one time or another … making butter by shaking cream in a jar with a marble in it! Part of a lesson on farming or cooking usually … shake shake shake shake shake shake shake …….. shake … shake ……………shake ……..shake ……it is hard work, especially on your own!
When we made butter together at Sandra Frain’s recent biodynamics workshop (with fresh cream from a well-loved biodynamic hindi cow!) she handed out instruments and we all stood together in a circle shaking our thing (and in Lana’s case, letting out our inner blue’s musician with the train whistle). I was concentrating on keeping the rhythm with my twisty-drum and it was a while before I settled into that and could hear the chant the group was singing:
Come on butter
You’re gonna be late,
And I’m gonna beat you
To the garden gate!
It was fun. Two jars of this delicious cream were being passed around the group this whole time and in about 10 minutes we had ….. butter! We were all grown up but still could not hide our delight at that magic moment when out of nowhere, little clumps of yellow appear, and then seconds later they all join up and float on top of the butter milk.
I tried to re-create the experience at home, and while felt-making keeps my arms fairly strong, I was puffed in no time. Even my kids tired, and with no visible progress. Even the chant lost its appeal the moment my arms gave up! Definitely more fun in a group! So out came the beaters, and in seconds … butter! It doesn’t lose it’s magic touch even with a little technology you know! It is still an amazing thing to see a new product appear before you where moments before it didn’t exist.
I didn’t have milk from a biodynamic hindi cow … and I could have visited one of our local dairy farms for some fresh unpasteurized milk and cream, however the threat of Listeria (bacteria that grows in raw foods) is a real one for me while I am pregnant so I found some pure cream on special in the supermarket and used that.
Home made butter is pretty satisfying. If you are buying cream to make your butter at home I wouldn’t say it is a cheaper way to get butter … unless you have a cow (I want a cow!). Cream costs more in the shop than butter, even though butter is made from cream. But you can buy cream on special, make your butter and then freeze it so you don’t have bottles of cream going off in your fridge 🙂
There is one more step to butter making … after you pour off the butter milk (I made the best scones ever from this butter milk) and have squeezed out as milk from the butter you can (with the back of a wooden spoon) then the internet sites I have looked at recommend washing the butter by adding water and repeating the process of shaking or beating until there is no more buttermilk left. This is to prevent the butter from going rancid. I don’t suppose that is much of a problem if your butter is kept in the fridge, but i did it anyway.
Then pat your butter until there is no more liquid .. and enjoy! It will bring you so much more goodness because you made it and enjoyed making it and saw the magic in it throughout the whole process.
If my Grandma knew I had just discovered the joy of making my own butter she might have a giggle … but these simple domestic arts are being lost as they have been replaced with machinery that does that job for us – and because it is NEW for me, I can see how joyful it is.