Got Cream? Make Butter.

I know what you’re thinking. Why make butter when you can buy it in the store?  Here are five great reasons:

  1. It’s fresh.
  2. It’s easy.
  3. It’s fun.
  4. It’s neat to do things that our ancestors did.
  5. If you make your own butter, you’ll look like this stylish young lady. See how happy she is?

Some butter history factoids:

It’s thought that butter was probably discovered by accident in the Mesopotamian area between 9000 and 8000 BC.

  • Wife to Husband: “Look dear, I shook up the cream and got this spreadable stuff – we don’t have to eat our bread plain anymore!”
  • Husband to Wife: “Wonderful stuff, let’s call it butter!”

Until the 19th century, the vast majority of butter was made by hand, on farms. The first butter factories appeared in the United States in the early 1860s. By 1900, more than half the butter produced was factory made.  Today, butter is readily available in any grocery store, or if you choose, you can make it in about 20 minutes in your own kitchen.  All you need is:

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Heavy cream (The amount you need depends on how much butter you would like. When making butter, you will get ½ butter and ½ buttermilk from whatever amount of cream you use.  So if you start out with a pint of cream, you will get ½ pint of butter.)


A clean jar with a lid (The size of the jar should be roughly twice the size of the amount of cream you’ll be using, so there’ll be plenty of room for shaking the cream)

A rubber spatula

A mixing bowl

Pour the cream in the jar, and then put the lid on.

Start shaking the jar, baby.

For the first 10 minutes, it looks like nothing is going on, but just keep shaking.  Think about the calories you’re burning.

The cream will become whipped cream, and shortly thereafter, the whipped cream magically separates out into two products- butter and buttermilk. Viola!

Butter and Buttermilk

Next, pour the buttermilk out of the jar. You can drink it, or save it for cooking.

Put the butter in a mixing bowl.

Put some cold water in the bowl, and then “wash” the butter.  This is just a process where you “wash” the residual buttermilk out of the butter.  It’s done by using the spatula to press the butter and water against the sides of the bowl.

"Washing" the butter

When the water gets cloudy, pour it into the sink, and put more water into the bowl. Continue “washing” until the water is almost clear.  This process takes about 5 minutes.

At this point you can add salt if you would like, to your taste. Just stir it in.

Press your fresh butter into a small airtight container, or pat it into shape, and wrap it in wax paper, and store in the fridge.

I found this adorable crock in an antique store last week.

It was used to contain spreadable cheese made by a cheese company in Wisconsin.  Mine is from the 1950s.

Now how cute is that?

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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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27 Responses

  1. Glenda says:

    So how did you like your butter? Your demonstrations with photos are a 4-Her’s dream.
    How long will homemade butter keep?
    Aren’t you just in love every time you open the refrigerator door? (the crock) (otherwise take Harland OUT of the fridge) LOL

    • Suzanne says:

      I love homemade butter, love any butter you know. Homemade butter will keep about 2 weeks in the fridge, a little longer if it is salted. Ha ha, I love the crock, and of course Harland.

  2. Shailaja says:

    Hi from me in Goa, India. I came by this delightful blog, quite by accident. That’s a charming container for sure, but you have pushed me, who’s about the same age, into antiquity! I used to have a lot of homemade butter, too, years ago. Or should I say, in my era? :)) I’ll be back soon to read your other posts.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hello Shailaja,
      Oh dear, didn’t mean to age anyone before their time with the butter crock. You are as young as you feel in your heart you know.
      Thank you for stopping by!

  3. I was so happy to see a butter making post! I made butter once and I was so thrilled! It was so delicious!!! My friend and I keep saying we are going to get together and make butter from cream bought from our local dairy. We go there all the time. They don’t sell butter there, I’m not sure why, but they do sell their cream!!! When we make it, I am planning on making a post on my blog…I’m sure you will see it pop up on my blog soon!!

  4. rebecca says:

    seriously? just shaking? that’s it?

  5. KSUgirl'85 says:

    Fun and easy–I used to make butter with my preschool classes and then we’d eat it on slices of bread for our snack. You can also use baby food jars and let the kids take turns shaking…

  6. Violet says:

    My kids and I used to make butter often while they were growing up but we took the “lazy” way out – pour the cream in a mixing bowl, get out the hand mixer and go to town. When the butter separated from the buttermilk, we proceded from that point on as you did.

  7. StacyJ says:

    Dumb ?: Does the buttermilk taste like “normal” buttermilk..or is it something altogether different. I know you can make buttermilk by adding vinegar to regular milk, so just curious.

  8. Madison G. says:

    Thanks! I made a speech on this and presented it in front of my homeschool, junior high speech group! Isn’t it fun!

  9. julie says:

    you know, this morning I was just thinking how I’d like to start making butter and needed to find how to do it and–I found this post! Perfect! Thank you! 🙂

  10. ellen says:

    thanks for the link to this, I found you via a site about how to make clarified butter..I have a son who has some pretty serious dairy sensitivities and it is something he can eat! So, imagine my excitement to find that not only can I make my own clarified butter, I can start from scratch and make butter first. It’s so funny to think that it’s so simple to make the things we take for granted and buy all the time!

  11. Brian says:

    I want to try this however I am unsure of what heavy cream is ? Is that the whipping cream sold in stores (35%) or is it something even more heavy ?

    • Suzanne says:

      It comes in a cardboard carton, like a little milk carton, usually sold by the pint, and it’s called “heavy whipping cream”. (Not the stuff already whipped in aerosol cans for squirting on pie.)

  12. Beth says:

    I use the heavy whipping cream to make butter all the time.. i use my kitchenaid mixer.. it’s fun and I use the liquid in making homemade bread….

  13. Tuong-an says:

    Hello. I was excited about making my own butter. I got some heavy whipping cream from the store, followed your directions. Now I have a jar of whipped cream. Did I miss something? Thanks.

  14. Tuong-an says:

    It was labeled Heavy Whipping Cream in a paper carton. Thanks for your prompt reply.

  15. barbara says:

    These comments sure brought back memories. I grew up on a small farm and we had fresh milk, cream, butter, and buttermilk because we had milking cows. Mom would set aside heavy cream for a few days in a warm place and then pour it into her “butter maker,” a gallon jar with a paddle that turned. I was the one who turned that paddle, usually for 30 minutes or more before the butter would appear. I loved the butter as well as the resulting buttermilk. I buy buttermilk regularly and it will be interesting to see how I like the homemade stuff.

    After reading these comments I plan to go out and buy some heavy whipping cream and try to make some butter. Thanks Suzanne.

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