How to make butter

I got a great buy on organic cream a week and a half ago, and this morning I decided to show the kids how to turn it into butter.  This is a fun and simple activity for  kids of all ages, two and up – it’s like magic to see cream turn into butter before their eyes!

All you need is heavy cream and a container with a lid.  I used a glass jar, but if you’re going to let a two year old do this, use a plastic jar, like an empty mayonnaise jar with a tight fitting lid. You can even use a disposable water bottle – it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s something that will close tightly and be easy for your child to handle.

Pour a cup of heavy cream into the container, making sure not to fill the container more than half way, and tightly close the lid.  Hand it to your child and tell them to shake it until it turns into butter.  That’s it.  :)  At first the cream will become whipped cream – we stopped and let them taste at this point.  Then as they continue shaking it, it will form a solid ball as the liquid separates.  This takes a lot of shaking – great to use up some little kid energy!

If you’ve used a narrow plastic container like a water bottle, cut it open (since the ball of butter obviously won’t fit through the opening); otherwise just open the container and pour out the liquid. Reserve the liquid to use for soaking flour or grains; pour out the butter and put it in a closed container in the fridge.

We gave each of our kids a small container to put the finished butter in, and after smoothing it into the container, they marked their butter with their initial.  I let my ds7 and ds3 make this first, and everyone else was so interested that they asked if they could also make some.  It’s a good thing I bought a lot of cream!  For the first batch we didn’t add salt, but I told the kids who wanted to make it afterwards that they could decide if they wanted to salt theirs, and choose the kind of salt and proportions they wanted to use.

My kids were wondering if it was cheaper to make butter than to buy it, so naturally I told them to figure it out.  :)   But I’ll do the math for you.  😀  A pint of heavy cream yields a half pound of butter.  Since I bought the cream at the low price of .79, our homemade organic butter comes out to 1.58 lb, which is cheaper than regular non-organic butter (which is what I usually buy).



9 thoughts on “How to make butter

  1. did you have to rinse it at all? we did the same thing, but then i read that you are supposed to rinse it until the water runs clear. we never did that, but i am wondering if you have heard of that? also, if you want to let your kids do another experiment, i have heard of putting a marble in the jar (obviously not with glass jars…) and shaking it- i wonder what the time difference would be for butter made with a marble versus non-marble? maybe your kids coud report back… :)

  2. LN- in my house it won’t last too long! :) Seriously, we just made it today so I can’t speak from long term experience. I think it would depend if we rinsed it or not, and if it had salt added. I’d assume it would last a long time, like store butter.

    Julie – when I read your comment I told my kids about it and they went to the sink to rinse their butter. Dd15 said she knew about that, that rinsing keeps it fresh longer by making sure all the liquid is out of it. When they tried to rinse it nothing came off so I guess we should have done it right away. Or maybe they shook it so well there wasn’t much liquid to rinse??

    I didn’t try with the marble, but maybe your kids can try it and report back on how much faster it went! For me, I’m happy to have it take longer – occupied hands are happy hands! :)

  3. Aw, for us making our own butter costs more than buying it. I can always get a pound of butter for under $1.50. But I like homemade butter. We’ve made it in the stand mixer. It’s fun to watch it turn from cream to whipped cream to (WOW) butter. We did rinse ours while pressing it with a fork. I think if we made our own all the time, we’d eat a lot more butter. YUM.

  4. Hello,

    I had no idea butter is that easy to make. does it taste just like what you buy in the store or do you have to add anything like salt or whatever to it?

    I enjoy spending time with my kids too. I have four kids and a granddaughter. I have a stepson who is 24, twodaughters 14 and 17 and a son 18 and my granddaughter was born on nov 27, thanksgiving last year.

    I am so blessed with a wonderful wife four kids and a granddaughter.

    We are thinking about going on a family trip in 2010 to disneyworld, we have never been there before, this will be our first time. I put a video online of a fireworks display at Disneyworld on NewYears Eve. If anyone wants to see it just click on my name and its the first video on the page.

    I would love to see these fireworks in person some day, way better than what i have seen here in Iowa.

    God bless all and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    1. Hi, Bill, welcome! Without salt it tastes just like sweet cream butter, but for salted butter you can add salt according to taste.

      Family is the best blessing, isn’t it? Have a wonderful New Year.

  5. (I read a recipe once that only lasted for 2 weeks, and that’s why I asked…store bought butter lasts longer in my experience…)

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