How to Make Butter with Nothing but Cream and a Jar

Just the other day as I was eating breakfast I was thinking about how I could have fresh butter in a post-collapse situation (yes I really do have strange thoughts like these). This got me looking into how butter was made and surprisingly it looked pretty easy. So yesterday I went to the task to try to make some on my own without the use of electricity.

What You’ll Need (no-electricity required version)

how_to_make_butter_5

  • 1 Pint of Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream
  • A glass jar

How to Make Butter

  1. how_to_make_butter_7
    Turning heavy cream into butter is as simple as pouring the cream into the glass container, tightening the lid, and shaking. Here’s the transformation the cream goes through (I timed it for reference):
    how_to_make_butter_6
    After shaking for about 7 min. The cream turned into whipped cream. At this point you could add a bit of sugar and have a great addition for dessert. But if you want butter you need to continue on with the shaking process.
    how_to_make_butter_8
    At about the 10 min mark (3 min after the whipped cream was formed) of continuous shaking the whipped cream magically begins to separate into butter and buttermilk.
  2. how_to_make_butter_4At this point you’ll want to pour off the buttermilk into a separate container (which you can drink right there or save for a future recipe).
  3. how_to_make_butter_2Now pour some water into the jar containing the butter — covering the butter completely. Swish around the butter and water to wash the remainder of the buttermilk off the surface of the butter and drain.
  4. After the butter is washed, place it in another container (like a small bowl) and mix the butter around with a fork or knife, releasing any trapped buttermilk and pour it out
  5. how_to_make_butter_3Add salt to taste and viola! you got fresh, creamy, tasty butter.
  6. One pint of whipping cream made almost exactly 1 cup of butter which is equivalent to 2 sticks.

    As a test, I decided to see how long it took to make butter with a hand-held electric mixer and was pretty surprised at the results (again I timed it). Using the mixer, I was able to quickly go from heavy cream to whipped cream in about 1 minute. However it took about 14 more minutes (for a total of 15 min) of continuous mixing to turn the whipped cream into butter.

    I was shocked. I thought using a mixer would speed up the process significantly but surprisingly it took longer than simply shaking it in a jar!

    Obtaining Cream Post-Collapse

    Now for the other major problem. Where do you get the cream if the grid goes down (and with it the supermarkets)? Well, heavy cream is nothing more than the cream that floats to the top of milk from a freshly milked cow. This heavy cream is skimmed off the top and processed in the manner above. If you live close to a organic dairy farm like I do, then you could purchase milk from them. Better yet, if you have the space for your own dairy cow that would be ideal, however few of us have that available to us.

    pygmy_goatThe other option that does not require much space is goats (or for even less space try a pygmy goat :)). Goats give around 3 quarts of milk a day and are small enough to fit in a 1/4 acre lot. Goat milk doesn’t separate into cream and milk as easily as cow’s milk does but making butter is still possible. Check out this article in Mother Earth News on how to make butter from goats’ milk without a separator.

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31 Comments»

Comment by Jake Anderson
2010-01-10 18:41:06

I did this in grade school and we were out of butter the other day and i we had cream i was going to try it out. Ill ask my Papa to bring some cream over so i can do it.

P.S.- I LOVE THIS WEBSITE I told a couple of buddies at school to check it out and they loved it as well, keep up the great work.

 
Comment by TacticalIntelligence
2010-01-11 11:08:34

Jake,

Let me know how it turns out. Thanks for the referrals btw…

 
Comment by Morné
2010-06-06 11:45:05

I tried this as well a few weeks ago. The food processer took a looooong time and I only got good results after using the mixer on the pre-processed cream. I useful hint to get the extra buttermilk out is to wash the butter with ice water (not just water at room temperature). Apparently the butter sours quickly if you don’t get all the buttermilk out. I got about 40% butter and 40% buttermilk with 20% washed away and stuck to me and the rest of the kitchen (It was a messy first attempt).

 
Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-06-06 14:13:17

I really think shaking it in a jar is the best option (plus it requires no electricity!).

Thanks for the tip on the washing. I’ll have to try that one out.

 
Comment by unknown kadath
2010-08-01 00:03:53

try using a plastic coffee can and dropping a couple of marbles in before shaking. its a little faster…

 
Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-08-04 02:46:53

Thanks for the great tip!

 
Comment by locNESS monster
2010-08-07 06:29:59

hey what brand do you think is the best to use? I just came back from a sience fair and tried it but it didnt work so am about to try this and thanks for the tip about the marbles it could come in handy! ;)

Comment by Erich
2010-08-08 14:58:17

Any brand should do as long as it’s HEAVY whipping cream. Be sure not to fill the jar up completely or it won’t give it enough room to wack itself back and forth withing the jar to create the cream and then finally the butter.

 
 
Comment by locNESS monster
2010-08-07 06:32:46

hey thabks will try it! p.s whats the best brand to use???

 
Comment by huh?
2011-05-31 23:29:18

is the link to the article about making goat butter broken for anyone else?

it keeps redirecting me back to this article.

 
Comment by brynn
2011-11-22 18:26:35

This is NOT working!! I’ve been shaking forever! I even tried getting fresher cream – to no avail! What am I doing wrong? I followed the directions exactly!

 
Comment by diane
2011-12-25 11:33:02

I’m making biscuits today and wasn’t able to get buttermilk, so I made my own! Loved this method. It was very easy (although my arms are tired!). It took longer than I thought to go from whipped cream to butter, but it seems like once it got to the breaking point, the water released all at once. The bonus was that I was able to use the resulting butter in the recipe too!

I think I may do this with my Girl Scout troop as a fun exercise. Maybe we’ll bake some bread then make our own butter…

Thanks!
PS. I used 8oz of heavy cream (organic) in a pint sized jar.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-28 11:58:53

THanks for the comments Diane. I’m sure the Girl Scouts will love this.

 
 
Comment by Bunnie Girl
2012-01-29 16:44:13

Yippee! This city gurl is now a hand churned butter makin’ country gurl! Woo Hoo! Ok so I have to confess I was nearly calling you everything in the book…because when I took the lid off of my jar all that was there was whipped cream. I thought how is this thick nirvana going to let go of the jar to turn into anything else. I set the cold whipped cream in a jar down, in defeat, for a rest, just so happened to be near the stove top. Where the radiant heat was emanating…picked it back up and began to practice once again calling you names…when…all of a sudden…whack whack whomp. Get out! I couldn’t believe it. It really worked! So…I am so sorry for thinking I was too gullible once again to do something some faceless post told me to do on the internet…and I am SOOO sorry for trying to come up with names to call you…and well, I am just so sorry I doubted you! We had lobster tail with “home SHOOK” butter. I did add some sea salt to the rich creamy YELLOW butter. Thanks so much! You made our meal spectacular! (I don’t buy butter or margarine.) Who has lobster without butta? Well, from here on out I will always be able to make a pat or two. Thanks!

Lessons learned: Cold Whipped cream will take longer to shake. Second: is I only poured about a inch of heavy whipping cream into my 6 oz jam jar. You do need the space as the post tells you to “throw” the cream. And Lesson three…be respectful of all posts that teach you new things. You never know, you may end up with blessings in the measure of rich creamy yummy butter! Patience Grasshopper, Patience.

 
Comment by Bunnie Girl
2012-01-29 16:47:47

Oh, Ps….

Your post is the only one that noted you may use Heavy Whipping Cream. Which is all I had. The others just say USE CREAM. Not sure if there is a difference, but I wanted to add that in case another reader was puzzled as I was. Thanks again!

 
Comment by Sophia
2012-09-04 01:44:29

Thank you so much for blogging about this! Your pictures and descriptions are fantastic, super clear. I can’t wait to try it with my son (we are homeschooling and are doing activities related to the “Little House on the Prairie” books – churning butter is one activity). Will link to your site when I post about it. Thanks again!

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-09-04 10:15:23

You’re very welcome Sophia. Thanks for visiting!

 
 
Comment by kav
2012-11-16 20:26:06

I had remembered shaking butter when I was a kid, so I tried it the other day. It worked, so I’m doing it again, but was wondering when to add the salt – thus I stumbled on your awesome blog. I also hadn’t known about washing the butter, but we polished it of in about an hour last time. I had started my thread of projects by making homemade whipped cream with my 3 and 5 year old, to show them how it’s done. Now butter. Next I want to show them yogurt, cheese, maybe cottage cheese? Your blog is beautiful. If you feel like experimenting with any of the above, I’d love to read your blog about it, too!!

 
Comment by kav
2012-11-16 20:44:16

Oh, I tried the jar 1/2 full this time, since I felt ready to make a bigger batch. Not good! Had to take a bunch out midway. Less than 1/4 full (maybe 1/8) will make it much easier. Also, I thought I had heard something about keeping it cold, but maybe that was referring to making whipped cream. It’s interesting to hear that not-as-cold might work better for butter. One more thing, I used regular cream last time and heavy whipping cream this time. It seemed to me that the heavy whipping cream took longer to change from whipped to butter – like it got stuck as whipped, and it was so thickly whipped that it barely moved in the jar. If anyone tries a comparison, I’m curious whether I’m imagining this, or whether the regular cream went to butter faster than heavy whipping cream…

 
Comment by Jacquie
2013-01-20 07:50:33

I had gotten a few quarts of cream from a pantry today ..and said to myself , what could i make ? So i went upstairs to my computer researched and found your recipe for making butter in a jar ..So I put a quart of cream in a jar ,,added a little sea salt and started shaking ..at first ,it wasn’t doing much , but i kept shaking …doing a quart was a lot ..it took me an hour of shaking ,my son and I took turns shaking …and finally it came together ..I had a yellow looking clump appear in my jar ..i was so amazed …I made butter!!!!!!! I separated the buttermilk in another jar and took the yellow clump and washed it under cold water rinsing off the last of the buttermilk ..then I formed it into a roll , almost like a stick of butter ..I wrapped it in freezer paper and put it in the refrigerator. to get cold …I was so thrilled and proud of myself !!! ..I MADE BUTTER !!!!!At lunch I enjoyed some fresh made butter on my onion roll with some home made soup ….it was incredible !!! thanks for the recipe !!!!!! It was divine!!!!!

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-01-21 16:20:32

Great to hear Jacquie. I’m surprised it took so long to make though. What kind of cream did you use?

 
 
Comment by sales call
2013-01-22 13:39:28

Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through your articles.
Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that
go over the same subjects? Thanks for your time!

 
2013-05-09 18:54:47

I just found your blog yesterday and this post! We are trying to sell our house and I am hoping we can get some property. I’ve been seriously dreaming of getting a dairy goat or cow, or both, lately and so I’ve been looking up recipes and how to make cheese and butter, and so I stumbled across this post about butter. I got some heavy cream at the store last night and tried this recipe and it worked great! I used the other half of the cream to make some more today, which filled the jar a bit more, and I thought I may have filled it too full since it wasn’t shaking much once it turned to whipped cream, but with more time it finally “broke loose” and I had myself some more butter. Today’s batch was a lesson for the kids, which they thought was pretty cool! Anyway, thank you so much! I never knew it was so easy to make butter and buttermilk! I used the buttermilk for my mocha last night and today and it was good!
I’ve tasted buttermilk from the store and it tasted nasty, but this tasted good :)

 
Comment by Elizabeth
2013-05-29 13:57:14

One optional step I remember my Mom doing:
After the butter became solid, she would place it in the middle of a piece of cheese cloth, or, a lintfree kitchen towel, twist it into a ball, and, squeeze it under cold running water to remove the excess milk.
Seemed like magic to me at the time…

 
Comment by Troop Mom
2013-11-22 23:25:54

We tried this as a girl scouts activity this evening. We used Lucerne heavy cream, and a few small Tupperware bowls instead of jars (to accommodate the little hands). Snapped the covers shut, and watched a movie and did some craft while we took turns (well, one Mom did a lot of the shaking) shaking the cream. Each batch took about 30 minutes to go from cream to butter. The separation was perfect! everyone went home with a sample for their breakfast bagel.

Thank you!

 
Comment by Donna Perez
2014-05-25 01:35:28

I came across this post from someone sharing it on facebook. I remember doing this in second grade and thinking that it was ‘magic’! As I was reading through these posts, I thought that it would be hilarious if someone from the 1800′s (or before) could read these posts! i.e. “I made butter!” I’m not picking on anyone, just stating a fact. Our society has become so dependent that it is sad!
Thank you for taking the time to post this and other great tips. Keep up the great work, and make sure you’re keeping copies of these in print…..when the grid goes down – this will be useless! LOL

Again, thanks!

 
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