The Lost Art of Butter Churning

July 27, 2011 sexyknees
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Churning butter for posterity

The process of churning cream into butter originated during the middle ages and lasted as a household chore until the industrial revolution automated the process, bringing about finely packaged products with colorful images such as the Land-o-Lakes lady (whom many a student has enjoyed turning her knees into boobies by folding the box in just the right way).  Contemporary convenience and entertainment aside, making your own butter has its own rewards:  building arm strength and keeping an ancient art from vanishing forever.

We all appreciate the expediency modern technology provides.  As for me, I love McDonald’s drive-through cuisine, making calls on the move (I was born during the age of rotary dial phones), and being able to make corrections while writing without using white-out.  But let us never let go of the old ways – how we got here is just as important as where we are today.  I’m not suggesting that we all go and reinvent the wheel (which I do on a regular basis – but that’s just me) – rather, just be aware of how the luxuries you enjoy came to be (EMP or a catastrophic power grid failure could easily take them away and we’ll have to start over).

Pictured here is s simple ceramic churning container with a wooden plunger.  The process is remarkably simple:  pour cream into the container, add a bit of salt, and pump the plunger…a lot.  The cream’s milk fat membranes will break down and the fat begins to cluster.  Foam will collect on top of the fat clusters and will eventually liquefy into buttermilk (which makes fantastic pancakes).  Drain the buttermilk and what is left is pure butter…wonderfully delicious heart-stopping butter.  I tried this once when I was in high school and it worked out great – just be prepared to spend a lot more time than you expect to get the result you seek!

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