Friday, June 15, 2012

Homemade Butter, Shaken Not Stirred

Little House on the Prairie is more than just a series around here. It's a way of life. I have Laura Ingalls Wilder's biggest fan in residence. We often play "Little House" which mostly entails three pioneer children, Laura, Mary, and Carrie, diligently and obediently carrying out whatever task Ma or Pa Ingalls might need done at any given time. As far as parent participation games go, this is my favorite.

This week we embraced our inner pioneer spirit by churning our own butter. The process is so very simple, especially when you can run to Costco to buy a half gallon of of heavy cream, yet so satisfying.
Start with a good amount of heavy cream. We used about 2 quarts, but there's no need to measure. Let the cream sit out until it's room temperature. Cold cream takes much longer to convert and if your kids are anything like mine, this makes all the difference between fun active science experiment and grueling upper body workout.

Pour the cream into a spill-proof container. We used plastic Tupperware containers with screw lids, but whatever you've got that you can shake without spilling should work just fine. Just be sure to leave plenty of room for expansion. Alternatively you can whip the cream with a mixer but we had a lot more fun shaking ours into submission. 
Start shaking. And shaking. And then shake some more. The cream will start to expand until it becomes whipped cream. At this point we unscrewed the lids and everyone had a taste.
Put the lids back on and shake some more. When it feels like you're shaking a solid lump of clay, keep going, you're almost there.
Drain off the liquid buttermilk using a cheesecloth or other thin piece of fabric as a sieve. An old dinner napkin worked for us. Reserve the buttermilk for pancakes, biscuits or other pioneer-inspired treat. Rinse the butter in cold water and drain repeatedly through the cheesecloth until the water is clear. Place the solid butter on a flat surface and squeeze out as much liquid as possible using a spatula or the back of a spoon. That's it! 
Fresh homemade butter fit for Ma Ingalls' table.

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