Making butter the easy way

18 November 2009
I was asked to do a post on making butter. It's not something that is generally part of my household tasks but I do make butter when I have spare cream or at this time of year. You get the best cream and milk in Spring. Making butter over Spring will give you the finest butter.

Like most other things in this simple life, the best ingredients will give you the best end result. I use cream from Jersey or Guernsey cows for my butter making. Usually it's 45 per cent butterfat - the higher the butter fat content the easier it is to make and the better the cream and butter will be. If you can't find Jersey or Guernsey cream, buy pure whipping cream or heavy cream. Check the label and make sure there are no "stabilisers or vegetable gums" in the cream. You want pure cream.

If you can find cream at a good price and you want to make butter, it's prudent to buy a large quantity because butter made well will store for a few months in the freezer. I live in dairy country with lots of rolling hills and brown and cream coloured cows dotted throughout. Unfortunately our cream never goes on special, if it did, I'd take advantage of that and make butter when the price was low, especially if I could get a lot of Spring cream.

In the old days, homemakers used to make butter with a butter churn or by shaking a jar full of cream. Nowadays we can use our electric appliances however, butter can be made by hand simply by shaking the cream in a jar.

Generally I buy local Maleny cream but this one was cheaper, and still local, so I bought Cooloola cream this time.

You can see here just how thick and luscious it is. This is not thickened cream, it's pure Jersey cream.


Place the cream into your food processor, or into a bowl if you're using an electric beater. Start processing.

This is just 20 seconds after starting. See how it's moved from soft cream to a harder cream. The higher the fat content in the cream you're using, the faster the butter will form.

You will hear the processor change as the butter starts to form and it's harder for the blades to work. In the photo above you can see the butter milk has separated from the cream. This was about 45 seconds into the process. For this small amount of cream - I used about 300 mls or just over a cup full of cream, I got about 25 mls of buttermilk. If you want to add salt, add it at this stage, after you pour off the buttermilk, according to your taste, and whizz it up again to mix it in properly.

If I were making much more butter and had a few cups of buttermilk, I would have stored it in a clean glass jar in the fridge for cooking or drinking. Hanno loves real buttermilk. I won't save this tiny portion but will add it to the water run off from washing the butter. More on this below.

After pouring off the butter milk, get some ice cold water from the fridge and pour about half a cup into the butter and continue processing. This will wash the butter. It's important to wash it properly because if you leave buttermilk in butter, it will go mouldy fairly quickly.

Make sure the water you use is ice cold. Cold water won't mix in with the butter, it will simply wash through it and wash out again. Pour the milky water off into a container.

After you wash the butter remove it from the processor onto one of the clean cotton cloths you use for yoghurt making or ginger beer. Just like yoghurt making, hang the strainer over a big jug so it can drain.

It's a good idea to have a few of these cloths made for various uses around the kitchen. I'll do a post on them soon.

Get more ice cold water and wash over the butter again, making sure the run off now is clear and not milky. Squeeze the butter in the cloth to remove the remaining liquid.

And there you have your butter!

Scrape it off the cloth on onto a serving dish or storage container and keep it in the fridge.

I poured the small amount of buttermilk into the run off milky water and will use it to soak grains and old bread for the chickens. They will LOVE it. You could also use to it soak grains you will eat or for cooking cakes or scones.

While making butter isn't something we do everyday as part of our other kitchen tasks, it is worthwhile making one batch to teach yourself this skill. It's a wonderful treat to give your guests, especially when they visit for morning tea, because so few of us have experienced real home made butter. I guarantee it will be something they will tell other people they had because it's such a rare thing nowadays. We all have a place in our heart for good butter.

And speaking of hearts and butter, this is from Nourishing Traditions, page 84:
Myth: Saturated fat clogs arteries.
Truth: The fatty acids found in artery clogs are most unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated. Sourced from The Lancet 1994 [The Lancet is the world's leading independent medical journal.]


  1. A very interesting quote from The Lancet I must say... and I was going to buy some more bacon tomorrow anyway! Same old story, everything in moderation.

  2. I have just made a batch myself and it is wonderful. I love knowing how to do so many things that seem to be a lost art these days.

  3. I always use this cream (cooloola) it's funny how I can't buy the local Maleny cream at my IGA even though Maleny is closer to me. I love homemade butter & will make this again, haven't made it in about 10yrs, but you have jogged my memory to it.
    I was lucky enough for my Granny to buy me "Nourishing Traditions for my birthday I am really getting alot from it.
    Have a lovely day Rhonda

  4. Wonderful! I think butter making is definitely worth it if you have your own dairy animals.

    But, I always recall this episode of I Love Lucy where they had to live like their grandmothers for a week. So, they churned butter. In the end, $25 of cream and several hours work gave them about $5 worth of butter ;) I think the moral was something about reinventing the wheel.

  5. Hi Rhonda, that looks good, I may not do it all the time but I will definitely try it. That reminds me to look up an old post of your about making whipped butter, I'll make a note of that.

  6. I love making butter! Wish I had jersey cream though!! :)

  7. Rhonda that was great and the easiest way I have seen to make butter. I am going to try it with the cloth instead trying to get all the liquid out with paddles! YEA! Thanks again!

  8. He was a city kid, and I was a farm kid. We were grocery shopping when we were first married, and for some unremembered reason the subject of butter came up. I said it was better because it was a natural food, being made from cream. DH said, "What? Who told you that? Butter does not come from cream!"

    He was adamant. He couldn't say where it came from but he was not naive enough to believe my tall tale of it coming from cream. LOL

    So I bought a pint of cream, and when we got home I put it in a clean jar and made him shake it, and shake it, and shake it. He wouldn't have done it, but he was absolutely determined to prove I was wrong. "See?" He said, peering into the jar. "No butter!"

    I could see the flecks staring to come, so urged him on. In another couple of minutes a big glob of butter suddenly appeared in the jar! You could have picked his jaw up from the kitchen floor.

    Forty-five years later we still laugh about the mysteries of butter, and the fact that he *really* believed spaghetti grew on trees.

  9. This is such a wonderfully simple way of making butter. Thanks Rhonda.

    One of our UK magazines - Home Farmer - had an article on making butter by shaking the cream in a clean plastic milk container, but the muscle effort was massive! It's the only thing that put me off doing it...

  10. THANK YOU!!!! This is a skill I've wanted to learn forever! I pcked up heavy cream this afternoon so I would be ready & here it is! Yeah! off to try now!

  11. Thanks sooo much for this informative tutorial !!!
    I definitely want to try this out !!!

  12. Thanks for this Rhonda. Just yesterday as my husband and I were eating home-made ice-cream we were talking about butter and what you need to do with cream to turn it to butter. Now I know exactly and think I will make some. It looks so easy!

  13. How is Hanno doing?
    That butter looks like a nice treat for next week. I think that would be fun given the low costs of cream right now. It would be good to make up a few batches and freeze it..
    Hope your fairing well Rhonda

  14. I can still remember the taste of butter my cousin and I churned. The cream came from my grandfather's favorite dairy cow, and the bread we spread it on, my grandmother made. Oh, heaven! It's been 40 years, but tastes like yesterday. :-)

  15. Thank you for this! I made milk once by shaking a jar with my Great Aunt. We ate it immediately with Thanksgiving dinner so I never found out about washing...interesting!

  16. I love that fact you have supplied Rhonda. It reinforces my absolute annoyance at some ads currently running on TV where a guy with a stethoscope around his neck urges parents to steer away from 'fatty' butter and use a spread such as ...
    Minutes later this ad is followed by a animated commercial with frolicking children and the same stethoscope wearing guy ... Urrgh it irritate's me greatly.

  17. I am definately going to give this a go. thanks for the tutorial!

  18. Oh, I keep meaning to do this activity with my children...I think you just put a clean marble in a glass jar, with the cream and just let them shake, shake, shake.
    Might try it this weekend.

  19. I just did a post on butter making the other day. Our local grocery store had organic cream on sale for SUPER cheap. I bought quite a bit and made butter. It was delicious! My 3 year old daughter and I made it in jars. She had a blast. There are pics on my blog if you'd like to take a look.
    Have a wonderful day Rhonda!

  20. The Organic Milk I get at the market is Jersey Milk and the girls love it. I had never thought of making my own butter (because he sells that too), but I might like to give it a try with the girls just for fun.
    A quick question, how long will the buttermilk keep in the fridge in a clean glass jar?

  21. Rhonda- thank you so much for sharing this with us. I need to buy a new food processor soon, and this will be the first thing I use it for!


  22. Deb, lucky you took that city kid in hand. LOL

    Donetta, Hanno is almost back to his old self. The knee has healed well and he's walking around again without limping. I'm fine too. Thanks for asking. :- )

    Going over in a sec, Kristin.

    Tree Hugging Mama, you should keep the buttermilk only for about a week in the fridge.

  23. Luisa @ Dance in my garden said... "I think you just put a clean marble in a glass jar, with the cream and just let them shake, shake, shake."

    That is a great idea and I may try that. But I wonder if a plastic jar wouldn't be safer to use?

  24. "It's a good idea to have a few of these cloths made for various uses around the kitchen. I'll do a post on them soon."

    I am looking forward to your post about them!

  25. As a child my mother let me making butter by shaking a glass jar with cream. It was a nice experience for an eight-year-old.
    I put it on my to-do-list for the children for next summerholiday.

  26. we were reading Little House in the Big Woods, and Ma would put their butter into a mold, and press out little pats of butter with a design on it. we thought that sounded delightful.


  27. As a child I use to LOVE rolling pieces of homemade butter between Butter Pats... Wonder if you can still buy them, probably in an old antique shop somewhere. I might start looking for them now that you've refreshed my memory Rhonda.

  28. I can remember helping out in the kitchen as a child, and sometimes, when whipping the cream for a sponge, taking it just a bit too far. If it got to that stage my mum would just shrug her shoulders and tell me to keep beating to make butter. I always thought that was fun.

  29. I've been making butter from cream for a few years now. I mainly do it when cream it reduced, and use the Kenwood as you did. It makes fabulous butter and I love patting it into shape with my butter pats ("Scotch Hands") and on fresh bread, still warm from the oven, it's delectable! The buttermilk makes fabulous scones too.

  30. I've always been interested in making butter- reading about it in "Little House in the Big Woods" just fascinated me. I'm sure it tastes much better than store-bought...hopefully I'll get to try it someday! Never thought of doing it in the food processor- good idea!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  31. I make all my own butter and have been for a while now. I find that my old butter churn works faster than my kitchen aid mixer. Butter churns are expensive, I was luck enough to have inherited my Grandma's old butter churn. My kids really like to take a turn at the crank and my husband loves to churn butter in the evenings while watching TV.

  32. What a perfect time to stumble onto your blog. Cream is on sale so cheap right now. I was raised on a small farm and remember my Mother making butter so this is really exciting to me. Thanks!

  33. Wow! We don't have cream like that in the US. It looks like it's worth emigrating for.

  34. Just had to share this article with you though it certainly has nothing to do with butter, Rhonda. But I know you have mentioned hearing about how many places in the US have huge negative reactions to people hanging out their laundry!

    My grandson's preschool class had each child make butter in a small canning jar yesterday and he shared it with me in the afternoon.

  35. I'm going to try this next week! I'm trading some of my eggs for local milk that is pasteurized, but not homogenized.

  36. Ahh! Haa! Now I get it! Here in the US they leave out the ice water part. My butter is good, but I make just a little at a time cause I don't want it to spoil. How come my butter comes out white? Is it the jersey cream that makes the difference?

  37. Thanks for the informative post, Rhonda. Really makes me want to make butter - shame cream is expensive here.

    I have a degree in nutrition and I've worked as an RD and I'm convinced our problem is not saturated fats, it's gluttony and lack of exercise. Our grandparents never even heard the word "saturated fat" and they were fit and healthy from eating wholesome, homemade foods.

  38. Thanks so much for posting this. I have been thinking of butter-making for awhile - you must've read my mind!

  39. We just made your butter thismorning. Boys loved doing it - then made scones to put it on. Thanks for sharing :)

  40. In my late teens I lived on a ranch in Texas. My husband usually milked the cow. Sometimes I did the milking but not often. I took the cream and made butter. It was so good on homemade bread. Thanks for bringing back good memories! I would love to live on a ranch again!

  41. Hi Rhonda,
    I just made some butter for the first time in about 12 years. Inspired by this post, it has been on my mind to do it.
    I am wondering why you specified to not use cream which has stabilisers of vegetable gums in it. The cream I used was going to go out of date if I didn't do something with it, so I decided to see how it turned out, even though it has vegetable gums in it.
    It seems to have worked and tastes great, but I was wondering if there was a reason for using cream with no stabilisers.

    Love your blog. :)


  42. I made butter! I made butter! I made butter! WOW! So easy!

    I feel kind of... all-knowing and powerful now.

  43. I hope it's okay I referenced your blog today. Again, thank you!

  44. Sorry, I am back. Trying to make butter again this morning and it's not working. Does this need to be close to room temperature to work?

    Yesterday , it did not work until I used the food processor but by then, it was closer to room temp as well. Details in my blog today might help you answer.

    Using the same milk, same equipment, etc.

    Thank you!

  45. I just made butter for the first time using your method! It looks awesome, just need to make some sourdough to go with it!



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