I was lucky to grow up with milk from the cow next door (next farm). More specifically, the cow my aunt and uncle kept for their home milk supply and which also supplied my family. One of my earliest memories is of making butter. My mother would give me a pint jar with some cream in, and tell me to shake it until it turned into butter. As a very little girl, it seemed like it took an awfully long time for that cream to do the magic and become butter, though it usually takes no more than 5-10 minutes. Yet, when the cream suddenly went from “slosh, slosh” in my jar, to a “whack, whack” sound, I knew I had done the magical trick, and would have my very own little tub of butter. I have since taught my grandchildren how to make butter, and every year when they come to stay that is one of their first requests.
Making butter is very easy, what is less easy is to come by some very good quality cream. Any cream will do, but the butter won’t be as rich and tasty as that made from good rich jersey or guernsey cream, preferably un-pasteurized. A pint of heavy cream is good to start with, but you can always make any quantity for butter freezes well.
Put the cream in a clean glass jar with some room to spare (a pint of cream in a quart jar is good; I put a cup of cream in a pint jar for the kids), and let it sit out for 1-2 days to allow the milk to lightly clabber/sour; while this is not absolutely necessary (children do not like to wait for this step), it does make for better tasting butter in my opinion. When ready, shake-shake-shake. Shake until the slosh begins to make a whack sound; that is when the cream has begun to gather. When the cream has gathered enough you will see a ball of butter which has separated from the whey.
The next step is to drain the whey off, but don’t throw it out, you can cook with it or drink it.
At this time you will want to add salt to taste if you prefer salted butter.
The most important step in making butter is working the remaining liquid whey out the fat of the butter; you can do this by pressing with a spatula, turning the butter over and over until most of the whey is out. Or, you can place the butter into clean piece of cloth or a tea towel, then gather the material at the top so you can tie it and let the butter hang over a bowl to allow the excess liquid drain off. This might take several hours. The butter can remain unrefrigerated if the weather is cool. After the draining is complete, find a lidded container in which to keep your butter, and if the weather is warm store it in the refrigerator, but you don’t need to in cooler weather.
Then enjoy your own homemade butter, which of course tastes better because you made it.