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Mar 8, 2013

I Can't Believe it's Butter!


I love knowing where my food comes from...how it's made, who made it, what's in it, why it's good, why it's bad.  I encourage my children to do the same.  Recently my son's 3rd grade class took a field trip to a working farm not far from where we live.   Now, this is a REAL WORKING farm, right out of the 1880s.  There are men and women who live there and work the farm as though it really is 130 years ago.  They raise their own animals and meat, grow their vegetables, cook on wood burning stoves, milk their cows, and churn their own butter.  It was a wonderful place to visit, though I think I'll keep my running water and my grocery store, thank you!

One thing we did learn was how they use their milk.  For example:
  • milk the cows - that's the raw milk.
  • leave the raw milk out to curdle - that's yogurt.
  • hang the curdled milk out to dry - that's cheese
  • use a machine to separate the raw milk into skim milk and cream.  
  • (Now THIS is where it gets good.)   Churn or shake the separated cream and get....say it with me....BUTTER!
The farmer told us it was easy to do.  I didn't believe him, so I tried it.  I did exactly what he said, and you know he was right!  It was SO easy.  Here's how you do it...
  1. Buy a carton of heavy cream.
  2. Take a clean jar.  I used a plain canning jar, but you can use a clean baby food jar, a mason jar, or any durable and sealable container.
  3. Fill the jar no more than half full with cream (so there will be room for the shaking).  
  4. Close the top tightly.
  5. Shake vigorously for 15-20 minutes, until you no longer hear the liquid and it has turned solid.  
  6. At this point, you can be finished and move on to step 7.  Or if you'd like a more firm, solid butter, use your cheesecloth as a sack and squeeze out the excess liquid.  Then just return the solid butter to the jar.
  7. Put the jar in the fridge to give the butter a chance to firm up a bit, and it's ready to go!

A few things to keep in mind: 
  • This is 100% natural, totally fresh, and you know exactly where it comes from. 
  • Your kids can do this...any age.  What a fun treat for them to serve up their own homemade food at breakfast or diner!
  • Remind yourself and others around you that yellow butter isn't natural!  Yours will be white.  That's a good thing!
  • Also, this is unsalted butter, so there won't be much flavor yet.  You can add salt if you wish. 
  • This is a great way to make any flavor butter you want ... add honey, preserves, maple syrup... anything to give you a different flavor.
  • Give these as Christmas or teacher gifts, or even welcome a new neighbor with it!
  • And remember:
EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BUTTER!

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