We love good butter in our household. We’ve believed in the benefits of eating butter from grass-fed cows for some time, and now the mainstream media is now slowly catching on. Both NPR and The New York Times reported on the recent publication from the Annals of Internal Medicine which concluded that saturated fat consumption did not increase chances of heart attacks or heart disease. Furthermore, butter made of cream from grass-fed cows is rich in vitamins A and D, along with many other health promoting factors detailed by the Weston Price Foundation.
Butter can be easy to make (for adults) and fun to make (for groups of kids). Making butter is a great way for students to learn where food comes from, taste test herbs in an appealing way, use up some energy, and have fun! Here are several different butter making methods, along with recipes and suggestions for associated games and activities. When buying cream, remember that the best nutrition will come from organic dairy from grass-fed pastured cows!
Least Effort: Fill your food processor 1/3 full with heavy or whipping cream (if you fill it too full, cream may spurt out the top when turned on). Turn on the food processor and wait for the liquid to turn into whipped cream. Continue to blend until the contents separate into milk and butter chunks. If you stay nearby, there will be a distinct change in sound when the butter separates out after about 10 minutes. Drain off milk (can be used for cooking) and put your chunks of butter into a cold bowl. Use a cold spoon or butter knife to push the butter around, squeezing out remaining milk. Mix in sea salt, spices, or herbs as desired and refrigerate in a covered container. Homemade butter will have a similar shelf-life to milk because it is unlikely you squeezed out every last bit of milk.
Kid-Powered: Remember – each of these steps could be a task for a child… no adult labor is needed! Fill a pint Ball jar 1/3 of the way with heavy or whipping cream. Screw on the lid very well. Turn upside down to make sure the lid is on correctly. If you’re with a group of kids, stand in a circle or around a table. As the first child shakes the jar, clap and chant:
Shake butter shake. Shake butter shake.
__(name)__ is at the garden gate, mixing up a butter cake.
Shake butter shake. Shake butter shake.
(chant from Project Seasons)
When the verse is done, the child passes the jar to the person standing next to them. The jar makes its way around the group, getting shaken continuously. If you are working with a new group of students, the chant can be a great way to learn and remember everyone’s name! A big ball of butter should separate from the milk within about 10 minutes. (*if working with a group of students, make sure to see “herbed butter” below*)
Cultured: If you’d like to make cultured butter, you’ll need to sour your cream first. We do this the same way we make yogurt, except use cream instead of milk. Once your cream is sour, continue with one of the methods above. Your two final products will be cultured buttermilk and cultured butter.
Herbed Butter: Herbs have a very strong flavor, and they’re hard to get excited about for most kids. In our school gardens, we made and tasted herbed butters to learn about different herb flavors in a more palatable way. Washed kids scissors can be used by students to finely cut up herbs. Simply mix chopped herbs and a shake of salt into your freshly made butter. We often made several varieties, spread them on crackers, and had the students vote for their favorites. Some of the most popular choices were: garlic chives, chives, dill, oregano, basil, parsley, and sage. At home, herbed butters can add a fancy twist to your dinner table or plate of hors d’oeuvres.
Want to learn more?:
Butter is Better via the Weston A. Price Foundation
Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet via NPR
Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link via New York Times
Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
My past blog post about Raw Milk, including our Yogurt Recipe