Making butter used to be a hard, time-consuming job.  But of course, for centuries, almost everyone did it.  When my kids and I read a story book about life in old Appalachia recently and saw the pictures of a butter churn and children pumping away at it, we decided that we wanted to give making our own butter a try.

Making the Butter

I learned from PBS kids that it can be done in small batches with just some cream and a jar.    Mom in Madison  said that it sometimes helps to add some marbles in the jar; so I threw those in too, thinking they couldn’t hurt, and that we could use all the help we could get.  (I was a little dubious that it was going to work at all). For the jar, I chose a salad dressing shaker, thinking it would be easier for little hands to get their fingers around easily.   We filled the shaker about half way with heavy whipping cream and started shaking. At first, the kids wanted to shake like crazy, but of course, that got old quickly.  We passed it around the room, shaking steadily, for about twenty minutes.


After a few minutes, the cream started to get very thick.  I wondered if that was all it was going to do, but then suddenly- presto!  We heard a sloshing noise and saw that the butter was stuck all together in one big clump.  We had butter!  We shook a little more just to make sure it was done changing, and then took it over to the sink. After draining off the excess liquid, we slathered it on some hot cornbread we had just made.   Some directions say you should rinse and knead the butter for better quality, but we didn’t bother.  The butter was creamy and delicious- a little softer and wetter than the store-bought variety, but that just made it spread a little easier.
Check out these other Quirky Momma posts that will get your kids making their own food!

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  1. I loved making butter as a kid! My daughter might be able to do this even though she’s one because she loves to shake things. 😉

  2. So simple and so fun… not to mention it sounds like a bit of a workout to shake it all up! I’ll be giving this a try!

    1. It’s a workout all by yourself for sure. Definitely nice to do it with kids to give the your arm a break 🙂

  3. I always made butter with my children and my classrooms in this manner. Recently when I went to a story time at the library with my grandson a new technique was shown….rolling the jar on the carpet from child to child or for those children not quite comfortable with sitting in a circle of people, they rolled from Mommy to child….all just like playing a quiet “non-throwing” ball game at home. We sang a song through twice and butter was beginning to show which inspired these three-year olds to keep rolling!

    1. I love the idea of combining it with singing and gentle play. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. We made butter several months ago…”I” thought it was pretty cool. My son did too. We made it as you described above but did not add the marbles (I couldn’t find them at the time). He did a bit of the shaking but of course I ended up having to to do the most…I kinda wonder just when I would have stopped. 🙂 I was very skeptical but like yours, it all of a sudden changed. Glad you enjoyed your butter-making experience (or at least the result) as much as we did. 🙂