{winter projects 2012} Butter In A Jar

Editor’s Introductory Note: To give us another week to get back “into the swing of things”, I decided to have a very special week of posts lined up in advance. I asked all six contributors with a personal blog (Christine, Jillian, Erika, Deanna, Liz & Becky) to republish an “oldie but a goodie” post here on FSC. The post had to be project-themed as that will be a MAJOR theme for us during the cold, dark, grey winter months. Fun food-related projects to do indoors while we wait for spring’s weather to bring renewal & warmth to Upstate NY.

First up, Christine shares a ‘shaking butter in a jar’ project from her personal blog, Unspeakable Visions. Originally published as “Making Your Own Butter”  in August 2008. This post is perfect for FSC as we demo butter-making during our community outreach outings with this technique. Its quick, simple and very rewarding. You most likely remember this technique from your elementary school years…

Christine’s Note: My first foray into home butter-making was in 2008, when I was a wee lass straight out of graduate school. I’d spent enough time studying policy and statistics and was anxious to get in the kitchen and start making things from scratch. I discovered the easy jar method of making butter and was hooked! It was so simple! So accessible! Since then, I’ve continued to make butter in a jar or in the food processor. I’ve learned about making cultured butter, but haven’t tried that yet. I’ve made various cheeses and experimented more with home dairy in our tiny apartment than I ever thought possible. Travel back in time with me to relive the wonders of my first butter-making experience. And then? Go make your own!

A month or so ago I learned that you can make your own butter, without needing a 3-foot butter churn or a trip to Hancock Shaker Village. You don’t even need to wear a bonnet, though I would look the other way if you wanted to. I’ve been fascinated with this Make Your Own Butter thing and finally mustered up the courage to do it this past weekend. And what do you know, it was awesome. No mess-ups, no foul language, no tears. Just good old-fashioned homemade butter.


Get your ingredients and supplies ready. You will need heavy cream (not necessarily a whole quart, a little pint will do fine for your first try), a jar with a tight lid, and an optional pinch of salt. That’s it. Honestly. I know, so simple!

Pour some of that heavy cream into that jar. I used about a cup or so. Now SHAKE IT. Shake shake shake. Shake shake shake. Shake that butter. Shake that butter. For like 20-30 minutes, depending on how many breaks you take and how much you can normally curl at the gym. I was nervous that I wouldn’t know when to stop shaking and that I would somehow mess it up. Keep shaking past the whipped cream stage, past the creme fraiche stage and past the point where you don’t hear anything sloshing around. You’ll enter radio silence as the cream is whipped into a solid frenzy, but fear not. After 20 or 30 minutes, you will take a quick break to massage your bicep and all of the sudden you will realize that it isn’t just heavy cream in that jar anymore; nope, it’s a big glob of butter surrounded by buttermilk. You’ll hear it and see it. At that point, you can stop. Drain the remaining buttermilk and save it for use in another recipe if you’d like (see below). Now rinse that butter glob off with cold water. Just fill up your mason jar with cold water, swish it around, drain and repeat until the water runs mostly clear. For best results, you will want to press out any excess liquid from the butter glob.I like to put it on a cutting board and smush it with a rubber spatula, letting the liquid run off into the sink. This usually takes a few extra minutes, but I think it helps the butter keep longer.

Oh what’s that now? Butter. It’s freakin’ butter. Put it in the fridge to harden it up. Since I was feeling particularly precious and had some time on my hands, I used the leftover buttermilk to make a batch of corn bread. Buttermilk is used in lots of recipes including some very delicious coffee cake treats, so you may want to set it aside instead of pouring it down the drain.

Mmmhmm, homemade butter and homemade cornbread. Can’t beat it.

Now that I’ve convinced you how easy it can be to make your own butter, brainstorm some options to dress it up a bit! Rosemary + garlic? Lemon basil? The options are limitless. If you are adding herbs or flavoring to your butter, add it in at the last minute: after you’ve drained the buttermilk, rinsed it and squeezed out the excess liquid. Butter keeps fairly well in the fridge (put it in a tupperware or wrap it up in parchment paper) or in a cute little butter crock, but if you won’t be using it right away, wrap it up tight and keep it in the freezer.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. This is just really cool – I’d never even considered making my own butter, but it just makes sense… all that jar really is, is a primitive butter churn! Awesome.

    1. christine says:

      Right? I never would have guessed how easy it is.

  2. Y’know, I’ve got some cream in the fridge that I probably won’t use up… hm…

    1. christine says:

      Do it! Shake shake shake.

  3. Jenna says:

    Just made some with some Battenkill Creamery cream and it’s delicious! Thank you!

    1. christine says:

      Yes! Battenkill cream is awesome and perfect for buttermaking. Enjoy.

      1. Cathy says:

        Talk about bringing back memories! I grew up on a private dairy farm in southern Missouri in the most wonderful atmosphere possible for raising children. Clean country air, acres and acres of woods and fields to roam and my Grandparents farm adjoining ours. My paternal Grandmother reminded me of a pioneer woman but in a modern setting. Our of all my wonderful memories of helping her, my favorite was making butter in a Mason jar. In our family, it was a rite of passage from childhood to adult. Grandma started my sisters and I and all our cousins shaking our fresh cream in little pint jars and as we grew, we progressed on to quart jars. The ultimate goal, was to be capable of churning fresh creamy yellow butter in a gallon jar, just like Grandma did. When you could do that, then she considered you a grown-up! Wonderful memories, I miss her dearly.

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