Make your own butter!

I’m long overdue on this post… my apologies to the folks at Katun who were waiting for it!

A couple weeks ago, I was out at Katun Corporation for their Lunch & Learn program. We made one of my favorite “you really can make it at home” things – butter. We’ve all gotten so used to the ease of buying a pound of butter in convenient sticks at the store that not many people know it’s not all that hard to make… and it doesn’t require a churn. All you need is:

-Heavy whipping cream (don’t go with the light stuff… it won’t work! Anyway, this is butter, it’s not going to be light…)
-Salt and/or other seasonings (optional)
-A jar with a tight-fitting lid

If you’ve got a standard 8-ounce container of cream, a jelly jar will be perfect. Pour the cream into the jar until it’s almost full and screw the lid on tight. Then…


This is the fun part. Put on some good music and shake to the beat. Pass it around, take turns – get the kids to help out. Keep shaking for 10 or 15 minutes. As time passes, you’ll start to notice a change in the way the jar feels as you shake. It’ll go from 100% liquid to a soft mass surrounded by liquid. You’re getting close! At this point, you can open up the jar & take a look. If what you’ve got looks like a lump of butter in milk, you’re all set. If it’s more like whipped cream, you’ve got a little more shaking to do. You can shake more for firmer butter or less for creamier butter.

Once you’ve got it to a butter-like consistency, you need to drain off the liquid. Hold back the butter with a fork and pour (save the buttermilk you pour off if you like – it’s mild and tasty, and you can drink it or use it in a recipe). Then use the fork to squish the butter around – that will release more liquid, which you can pour off. Keep repeating the process until you’re not getting much more liquid when you squish.

If you want the butter to last longer, you should now rinse it in water. Just pour some water in the jar and squish the butter with the fork some more, then pour off the water. Repeat a few times. If you’re going to use all the butter right away, you don’t need to bother with this step.

Your butter is almost ready! Now you just need to season it. Butter is often salted, so you can choose to add a little salt at this point. You don’t need a whole lot – start with a pinch and mix it in well, then taste. Add more if you prefer.

When I was at Katun, we added chopped garlic and green onions to the butter (I put them in the mini-prep food processor to get them minced well). That’s a combo that packs a delicious punch! You can try that, or any other herbs you like – dill, basil, thyme, sage… the possibilities are endless. I think my all-time favorite herb combo for butter is dill & garlic. Or you can go a completely different route and mix in some honey for an amazing spread for muffins, breads and more. Experiment and find your favorite!

You should store any leftover butter in the fridge, and note that it will not last as long as store-bought butter. It may start to form mold within a week or so. But it’s sooo good… I think you’ll want to use it up much faster than that!

This is a project that kids just love. I highly recommend trying it out with your children! The shaking part is good, wiggly fun, and kids often think it’s neat – and kind of weird! – that you can make your own butter. And any time kids can get involved in helping with food preparation, you’re doing them a favor by helping them understand and appreciate good, homemade food.

All right, what are you waiting for? Get shaking!


About Linnea

I'm the founder and chair of Slow Food Quad Cities. I love good, clean and fair food!
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