Grit Blogs > Rural Legend

Homemade Butter

"You and I, we know the secret to life. It's butter." – Chef Didier in the movie Last Holiday

A few weeks ago Brent came home from work with a jug of raw milk he had bought from a local farmer. This was an exciting day in our house. And, of course, we knew what we had to do: make butter. Now there are many fancy, new-fangled ways to make butter using things like blenders and what not, but we decided we had to do it the same way I had done it in first grade when we passed a mason jar full of cream around the table and each took a turn shaking it. If first graders can do this, we thought, surely we can too. And we did – with the help of my mom and uncle who grew up watching my grandma churn butter on their farm and a consultation with The Up-With-Wholesome, Down-With-Store-Bought Book of Recipes and Household Formulas.

First we had to pour the cream off our milk – and call my uncle in Kentucky to find out how to tell when we're done. Pour it until it stops looking thick, he told us, about a pint or so. Poured some of the cream on the raspberries our friend Susannah had brought and poured ourselves glasses of milk while we were at it. Decided that it did indeed taste "cowier" than regular milk as Noel Perrin had described in First Person Rural.

Mabel and the butter jar

Mabel, our chief buttermaker, got the ceremonial first shake. Then we passed it around as we stood around our pellet stove talking about life, God, and Vienna. Fifteen minutes of shaking and a consultation with the book to see if we were done and we had butter. See?

Mason jar with homemade butter inside

Took it out of the jar and pressed more of the buttermilk out, got impatient and decided to eat it as it was. We slathered it on some slices of homemade English muffin whey bread and enjoyed.

Our homemade butter

I think we may have to get that dasher built for the churn I inherited from my grandmother. Oh, if we could only have a minature milk cow.