Let’s Make Butter!


Butter is one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world, so I’ve been really looking forward to making my own homemade butter ever since I found out I was getting a cow. As soon as I had a quart of heavy cream stashed away, I did it! And it was so easy.

I thought it would be more difficult. I studied in advance. Prepared. Planned. Discussed it with Beulah Petunia.

She didn’t really have much to say about it, though she’s generally opposed to margarine as it is in conflict with her livelihood.

Making butter is the process of releasing butterfat from the cream. Like cheesemaking, it’s an age-old and delicious way of preserving milk. I set out to try two methods–one, shaking the cream up in a quart jar, and two, mixing it in a blender. I got the blender out and everything. But I never got that far. I tried the jar method first and it was so quick and so simple, the mere notion of having to clean up the blender after that method sounded like far too much trouble. No blender method for me.

I’m a quart jar girl all the way!

Here’s how you do it.

Take one pint of heavy cream. Heavy cream. Not too fresh. It’s best to work with cream that’s been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days.

Some of Beulah Petunia’s cream is so thick, you can spoon it up.

I’ve refined my cream-skimming and am doing much better now–thanks for all the tips! What I’ve found works for me is setting the fresh milk to chill in a large bowl after I’ve finished handling it when I bring it in. The next day, I use a large stainless steel spoon to carefully skim across the surface. I take the thick, heavy cream off and that goes into one jar, then I skim off the light cream underneath to another jar. I’m getting much more cream since I started skimming from a big bowl!

Back to butter– Set your heavy cream out for several hours to come to room temperature. When you’re ready to start, pour your pint of cream into a quart jar.

Cover tightly with a lid and start shaking! At first, the cream will seem to expand and fill up the jar to where it almost looks as if you can’t shake it anymore.

(I had 52 doing the shaking here.) Keep shaking–next thing you know, a big yellow blob of butter will appear inside the jar. It’s like magic!

How exciting is that?

This took THREE MINUTES. From cream to butter–in three minutes. (Now you know why I said, forget it, to the blender. The jar is very easy to wash and who needs to take apart a blender for no good reason.)

Using a spoon to hold the butter in place, pour off the buttermilk, transferring it to another jar.

I see buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk cornbread…..!!!!

After removing the buttermilk, dump the butter in a bowl. (The most straight-sided bowl you have is best.) Using the back of a big spoon, press the butter, pushing out any remaining liquid. This is still buttermilk, so add it to your buttermilk jar.

Run cold water over the butter then press again, releasing as much liquid as possible. Dump this liquid–from this point on, it’s watered down and you don’t want to save it. Repeat this process of washing the butter several times until the water is pressing out clear.

After you’ve washed it for the last time, add salt to taste. (Salt also helps preserve the butter.) Refrigerate and eat with much happiness because you made it yourself!

This was unbelievably easy. And delicious. One quart of heavy cream should yield around a pint of butter, more or less.

There are numerous variations on making butter. You can make it with a stand mixer, a blender, or a food processor, too. (Or even the old-fashioned way with a hand-cranked churn!) Read the pearls of experienced butter-making wisdom here in the Chickens in the Road forum topic devoted to the love of making butter, Making Butter at Home, for more tips and instructions about other methods of making butter. (I learned a lot there!)

I love the jar method. For me, this works in three minutes flat, so I lost all interest in trying out other methods. If you’ve tried the jar method in the past and it took forever (I’ve heard people talk about shaking the jar for 30 minutes and having to pass it around to multiple hands because it took so long), or if you get a low yield on your butter, double-check a few things:

*Be sure to use really good, rich heavy cream.
*Don’t use cream that’s too fresh. Let the cream for butter sit in the fridge a couple days before using.
*Don’t use ultra-pasteurized cream.
*Let the cream come to room temperature before starting to make butter.

If you must use ultra-pasteurized cream, add a packet of direct-set mesophilic starter per quart of cream. Let the cream set for 12 hours, at room temperature, after stirring in the starter before making butter. (Starters can be purchased from cheesemaking supply companies.)

Beulah Petunia, heading for the milking station with dairy supervisor, Jack, and trusty sidekick for all endeavors, Boomer.

Make some butter!

Or you might upset Beulah Petunia! (And we can’t have that.)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on April 20, 2010  

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59 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 4-20

    My kingdom for a cow! She’s beautiful, and she gives beautiful butter! It looks amazing. I just love her face. :cowsleep:

  2. 4-20

    She really is a very cute, cute cow. I can’t believe how easy this is. I wish cheese sounded as easy.

  3. 4-20

    Suzanne, that is exactly how I did my skimming back in the day.

    I think I will try bowl routine again and see if I can get enough cream to make a bit of butter.

    You don’t sour your milk first do you? I have never tried that before. I just make sweet milk butter or did.

    Remember your buttermilk isn’t sour like regular buttermilk, so won’t requite soda.

  4. 4-20

    Is that hair loss and bare skin on Beulah Petunia’s neck? Kind of looks like mange or ringworm maybe. Hard to tell from the photo.

    Butter, it’s a good thing. Sounds more like a Paul Dean than a Martha statement though. Three minutes, wow! I’ve read that it’s easier to make butter in the spring when the cows are on pasture.

  5. 4-20

    Sheila, no, that’s not hair loss, that’s a lighter coat coming in. The people we got her from told us she gets a lighter coat in the summer. That’s not bare skin, just lighter hair.

  6. 4-20

    I’ve done the jar method a couple times with my kids and they loved doing it ~ took a little more than three minutes with them though. But it was good butter!

  7. 4-20

    Does your butter taste much different from store bought?

  8. 4-20

    Great job!! She is just a beauty.

  9. 4-20

    Reading about your milk and cow makes me want to visit some of our local farms and see if I can get fresh milk from them and make cream and milk stright from the cow. lol. The butter looks good. 3 mins that is all??? Crazy easy.

  10. 4-20

    Nummy! Now every day’s warm, fresh-baked bread can have delicious Beulah Butter melting into its cracks and crevices! Is anything better?!

  11. 4-20

    Is clotted cream next? Please, please! I have always wondered how to make it after several wonderful trips to London. It might just be enough to make me get my own cow!

  12. 4-20

    Ah, homemade butter brings back such wonderful childhood memories. Long ago (1960’s), while visiting my mother’s side of the family in Hinton, my great aunt’s would whip up feasts to die for. I can still see my great Aunt Hazel sitting off to the side in the large country kitchen, chatting away with everyone while pounding the butter churn. Awesome!

  13. 4-20

    Your butter is beautiful and Beulah is beautiful as well. Now how about a nice batch of homemade rolls to slather that butter on? What time should I be there?

  14. 4-20

    Making butter is such fun, seems like magic. I used to do it with my 3rd grade students. We had several jars, and they gave it ten shakes then passed it on. Mmmmmmmm, spread it on graham crackers. Thanks for the memory.

  15. 4-20

    Wonderful post! I remember sitting on the back porch steps helping my grandmother churn butter. I miss her so much…..

  16. 4-20

    I can almost taste your beautiful yellow butter. Yum. Great job.

  17. 4-20

    I love your blog. I fantasize about having a farm. But I know I’m way tooo lazy!!

  18. 4-20

    You may be cheating there – you are making it into butter on the trip from Beulah Petunia to the refrigerator! All that jiggling around in the car is making into the cream almost butter before it even gets into the jar!! ;)

    What’s next? Clabbored cream?? Clotted cream???

  19. 4-20

    No doubt that Beulah Petunia would have her part in giving you the best cream for butter making! Yet another memory that was tucked back in the cobwebs of my mind. I love the pics you share of all your four legged fur-loves.

  20. 4-20

    One of my favorite memories is from the first grade……a long time ago, before they even had kindergarten…..our teacher let all of us in class shake a jar of cream and we made the bestest butter and spread it on crackers. Was that a wonderful teacher, or what?
    Thanks for bringing back that memory. :)

  21. 4-20

    I love homemade butter! I make mine in the stand mixer and it works just fine. Sometimes I let the cream come to room temp and other times I use it right out of the refrigerator (sweet cream butter). The farm where I purchase raw milk let their cows rest for 6 months – which meant I couldn’t get milk! They started selling again last week, so I’ve been busy the past few days…love it!

  22. 4-20

    Congratulations, Suzanne!

    And Beulah Petunia, who has a lovely name, looks very happy!

  23. 4-20

    Suzanne and Beulah Petunia are a team! :moo:

  24. 4-20

    There is something about a jowly animal pic that makes me smile, that and fresh butter!

  25. 4-20

    Look at the color of that butter!!! Beulah Petunia, you are the best birthday gift ever…

  26. 4-20

    Okay, let me get this straight. You pasteurize the milk and THEN let it sit in the frig for a couple of days before skimming the cream off the top? Sorry if that’s a stupid question.

  27. 4-20

    There are no dumb questions, Tracy! I pasteurize the milk then refrigerate it. I skim the cream off in the morning. Then I let the cream sit for a couple days before making butter with it.

  28. 4-20

    OHHHHHH!! Now I see! Thanks for clearing that up! I SO want a milk cow!!

  29. 4-20

    I haven’t had the courage to try the jar method yet; I’ve been scared off by those reports of having to pass the jar around because it took so long. :bugeyed: That said, I use ultra pasteurized heavy cream to make my butter, and have had no issues at all with it. I let it set out at room temperature for about 8 hours, then make it in the food processor. Yes, it’s a bit messy, but that’s what dishwashers are for. :yes:

    I was a bit surprised by the low yield you mentioned; I get a pound (16 oz) of butter consistently from a quart of cream, and the same of “buttermilk”. :cowsleep: Gonna have to break down and try the jar method, and see what I get. Any chance you might take on clotted cream and creme fraiche next? ;) :chef: :hungry:

  30. 4-20

    Oops! :shocked: I think pints and quarts got mixed up here! Your output of a cup of butter from a pint of cream is right on target, but you go on to say “One quart of heavy cream should yield around a cup of butter, more or less.” Since I buy my cream in half gallons, I got ALL mixed up. Like the cream. Or is that separated? :hole:

    Nevertheless, I am totally jealous of your fresh cream. It undoubtedly has something to do with why the jar method works so well for you. Beulah Petunia (reminds me of Amelia Bedelia!) is a gem.

  31. 4-20

    Wow! That is some thick cream!!! Maybe that’s why mine took 15 minutes per pint. I’ve started yielding more after leaving it sit in the fridge for a couple three days then letting it warm up.

    I bet that would make some great whip cream, too! Maybe THAT’S the secret to good whip cream with fresh cream.

  32. 4-20

    I really liked your old blog format better. I wish you would switch back……. I’m still reading it everyday though! Jack is still my favorite! :sheepjump:

  33. 4-20

    The cream in the pint jar in the picture is the heavy cream separated from the light cream. I skim off the heavy first then put the light in a separate container.

  34. 4-20

    She is so cute!! Just love the pics.. Did you know that butter can be canned?? I believe there is a you tube video with instructions.

  35. 4-20

    Yum! I’ve always wanted to try this at home. We tried it when I was in the Girl Scouts in the 5th grade, but the butter never appeared. Not sure what we did wrong. I appreciate the pictures so I’ll know this time if it looks like I’m doing it right.


  36. 4-20

    I feel silly asking this, but what is the process for pasteurizing milk at home? Is it really time consuming or difficult to get the milk to the correct heat without over or under-doing it? Your butter is beautiful by the way (looks very soft, does it stay that way?). You can tell Beulah Petunia that I also have a problem with margarine :). She’s gorgeous!

  37. 4-20

    Scrumptious butter! So many tasty things you can make from lovely Beulah Petunia’s milk!

  38. 4-20

    Oh the butter making memories! We used gallon jars to make small batches of butter and buttermilk. Needless to say, I had some good muscles!

  39. 4-20

    That cream has the the yellowist color! So that makes the butter come out very yellow…it is VERY pretty butter!

    How do you pasteurize your milk? Is it done by heating the milk to a certain temp?

    I can’t remember how Mama did it…if she did! I do remember sitting and shaking that quart jar of cream making butter though.

  40. 4-20

    That cream is amazing! It looks halfway to butter already. I’ve never seen such rich looking cream (drooling). And your butter is so yellow.

    The last picture of Beulah Petunia makes me feel like I just got a cow kiss.

  41. 4-20

    Just wondering: How does the buttermilk taste? Is it tangy, like cultured buttermilk? Or like skim milk? Or like whey?

  42. 4-21

    :sun: I have made butter with my kindergartners using baby food jars…of course we have to make bread too!

  43. 4-21

    You make it look so easy! I have to try this. Thank you for the post!

  44. 4-21

    Just think how healthy your fresh cow’s milk is and now butter!It looks yummy. I take it you don’t want to risk using raw milk for anything? Blessings.

  45. 4-21

    Beulah Petunia makes a great new addition to your farm. :)

    Great pics and directions on this wonderful way of making butter. My family has used the jar method ever since I can remember.

  46. 4-22

    I always thought you could tell butter from margarine because the margarine was darker. There goes that theory. And I can’t believe how thick Beulah’s cream is. It looks like you already whipped it.

    Maybe the butter came on so quick in the jar because 52 is just a magic butter shaker.

    So tell me, now that you and Beulah Petunia have gotten more used to each other, are you enjoying her? And all her goodies she provides. Is Clover jealous? She is still the queen of the barnyard, isn’t she?

  47. 5-25

    I was so excited when my friend showed me this webb site. I couldn’t wait to try my own butter. I don’t have a cow :no: so decided to try store bought heavy cream and wouldn’t you know it… only ultra pasturized :cry: Nowhere to get the additive either, so I left the cream out about 6 hrs and treid it anyway. I had to shake 20 minutes instead of 3 but WOW what a rush!!! :heart: It worked LOL oh happy day :snoopy:

  48. 5-31

    Thank you SO much for this. I have goats, and a recently acquired cream separator. The cream I got was VERY thick and when I tried to make butter in the blender, it melted. I will try the jar method next time. I am feeling encouraged now, thanks to you!

  49. 10-29

    Do you happen to have a recipe for homemade mayo?

  50. 10-29

    Sheila, you can find my mayo recipe here:

  51. 11-25

    I found it thanks :) , made some up a few days ago (and btw I love it :D) I also made some homemade butter to , but unfortunately I had to use the ultra pasturiezed (with no starter :( ) but it turned out pretty good :hungry: :shimmy: .

  52. 1-10

    Hi there,
    I just stumbled on your website last night and am officially a fan! You’re descriptive writing is entertaining for those of us who only wish to have your life. Do you make enough butter to last the winter? Keep writing, your website is my new nightly reading entertainment. I have told many folks of your great endeavors, so brave.
    Thank you!

  53. 1-10

    I think I know why some people say it takes a half hour to make the butter. It takes me that long and that’s because I don’t let it warm up first. Usually I don’t think about it early enough to let it sit. I do purchase my cream from a restaurant supply place that is open to the public. Its a 36% heavy cream and works great.

  54. 1-28

    I made butter yesterday! Seriously, It’s like magic. I used the jar method and it was so easy. I think getting it to room tempature is the key. I used the butter milk to make the homemade ranch dressing. So good. The butter taste just like an Irish Cream Butter I would get from a local gourmet grocery. It was $10 lb. but, so good. I will never buy it agian.

  55. 2-16

    Does anyone know if you can use the buttermilk from making butter in buttermilk pie or do you need cultured buttermilk for pies? Recipes?

  56. 2-16

    mamajoseph, I haven’t tried it because I haven’t made a buttermilk pie recipe, but I would. I use my buttermilk from making butter in everything else I bake.

  57. 2-17

    Well, I guess the only way to know is to try. The buttermilk is great in biscuits and pancakes so why not pie? We’ll see. I feel like I may have to make pie tomorrow!

  58. 2-21

    YES! ‘Real’ buttermilk worked great in the buttermilk pie. I added a couple tablespoons heavy cream b/c I was afraid it wouldn’t be rich enough. It was perfectly delicious!

  59. 2-27

    Hi – I recently just started buying raw milk from a local farm. Please excuse my ignorance, but after skimming the cream from the top, can you still drink the milk at the bottom or use it for baking/cooking? How will the taste be altered? Thanks~

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