In the Kitchen : : Making Butter By Hand

When I go to farmer's market I try to steer clear of the computer for most of Sunday and Monday, our weekend. But I didn't want to leave you hanging, so I am re-posting a wonderful tutorial I wrote early last year. Homemade butter! You won't regret giving this a run, whether you are a raw-milk advocate or buy your dairy at the grocery. Really. It borders on magical.

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There is a mystical aura around many of the everyday foods we enjoy. Yogurt. Tortillas. Kraut. Bread. Butter. Ice cream. Jam. Crackers.

In our society we tend to buy these items more frequently than we create them ourselves, thus giving the magic of creation away to the producer instead of keeping it in our own kitchens. 


But we can make it ourselves. So much of it. And many items (like crackers) can be made for pennies. Add to that the packaging you are avoiding, and making your own (at least on occasion) is a no-brainer.

Today's tutorial is a simple one. I remember making butter in grade school in a baby food jar. It is as magical now as it was then. Butter making is a great way for kids (even young kids) to participate in the beauty of creating their own food.

Butter Making Tutorial

1/2 tsp salt

1 pint heavy cream

1/4 c milk

widemouth canning jar and lid



wooden spoon

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Begin by pouring your cream and milk into the canning jar.

Add 1/2 tsp salt. (If you want the skimmed milk you pour off to be sweet after making your butter do not add the salt now. Instead add it when you are pressing our the milk during the final steps. Add it now for the easiest process).

Close the jar tightly and get shaking! (You can also make butter in a food processor or stand mixer, but this method is much more fun by the standards of our house.)

Put on some rockin' music and shake, jump, dance, and swing until the butter begins to thicken. You will see it transform from heavy cream to whipped cream.

Keep shaking.

Suddenly it will happen. You'll feel something begin to knock around in the jar. Looking closely you'll see two components: butter and buttermilk.

(Edited: The buttermilk will not the thick, sour liquid that you expect unless you first cultured your cream before proceeding with the recipe. You can make this recipe with cream that was cultured with yogurt, live buttermilk, or pima culture, however this recipe is the simplest possible incarnation of butter using sweet cream.)


Keep shaking! Soon the butter will all be consolidated into one lump and you can separate the milk. Simply open the jar and pour through a mesh strainer. (Reserve the salty milk for baking to replace your liquid and salt in a biscuit or dumpling recipe.)


Transfer the butter to a clean bowl. Remove the milk that is trapped inside of the butter by firmly pressing with a spoon for several minutes. (If you skip this step your butter will spoil quickly.) The milk will weep out and puddle in the bottom of the bowl. Stop pressing when there is no more milk weeping out.


Rinse the butter with cold water and form into a ball or block and pat dry. Your butter is done! Look how self-sufficient you are.

20 thoughts on “In the Kitchen : : Making Butter By Hand

  1. Sara Adams says:

    We went out to St Brigid’s Meadows Memorial Day weekend for a picnic. My Rachel go to make some butter. She was delighted to have made it all by herself. 🙂

  2. Melanie says:

    Thank you so much for this re-post. The kids and I picked up the cream and just finished. Now I have bread rising so we will have some fresh baked bread to go with it. Question, does the butter freeze well? I made 2 batches and now wondering if that was a bad idea. If it does not freeze well, I will pass some on to a family member. thanks!

  3. Brittany says:

    It’s official, I am trying this recipe! I still marvel when I make something totally by hand- I tell my husband look- it didn’t come from a bag or box, isn’t it amazing?!

  4. Becca C says:

    If you culture it first, do you do that like you were going to make yogurt? Do you have a post about that already?

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Morven. I freeze my butter and it lasts for a year. In the fridge or on the counter how long it lasts will depend on how effectively you removed the whey. If its well rinsed and pressed it should last a week at room temperature.

    Rachel Wolf
    Owner and Founder, LuSa Organics
    blogging at
    We donate 10% of profits to organizations generating positive global change

  6. Herb says:

    After ten minutes of shaking, I have whipped cream, and it’s so thick I can’t shake it around anymore, but it’s not butter yet.

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