Period Early American Dairy (Butter)

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

WJC

Major General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
12,949
I've churned butter using both a large earthen jar and the up-and-down motion of the cross-piece plunger as in the video and, later, with a hand crank churn. After it thickened, we'd take it out and add ice cubes to set it, then form it to remove the moisture and make a ball using wooden paddles. My grandmother sold much of what she made.
And as the video points out, there is no comparison between real buttermilk and the stuff with that name in your grocer's cooler.
I should also add that in grade school (2nd grade?) my class made butter by passing a half pint of heavy cream around. each person would give the container a few shakes and pass it on. In the end, we had made butter!
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Messages
2,612
Location
44022
I've churned butter using both a large earthen jar and the up-and-down motion of the cross-piece plunger as in the video and, later, with a hand crank churn. After it thickened, we'd take it out and add ice cubes to set it, then form it to remove the moisture and make a ball using wooden paddles. My grandmother sold much of what she made.
And as the video points out, there is no comparison between real buttermilk and the stuff with that name in your grocer's cooler.
I should also add that in grade school (2nd grade?) my class made butter by passing a half pint of heavy cream around. each person would give the container a few shakes and pass it on. In the end, we had made butter!
Sounds just like kids making mason jar ice cream!
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

AnnaLee

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,311
I remember my grandmother churning butter and wanting to help. I must have been three or four when she gave me the cross-piece plunger and said, "Move it up and down." I soon tired and left her to finish the butter. My aunts also churned butter. When my family and I visited there was always a bowl full of fresh, churned butter on the table and hot biscuits. Nothing like it in the world.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Anna Elizabeth Henry

1st Lieutenant
Silver Patron
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
3,499
Location
New York, New York
I've never had fresh homemade butter, but as someone who loves the stuff, I bet it's excellent.

I didn't realize you could end up with butter in your ice cream if you didn't churn correctly! Sounds like a weird Ben & Jerry's flavor, vanilla butter ice cream anyone? :tongue:
 

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Messages
2,612
Location
44022
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
20,076
Location
Laurinburg NC
Sounds just like kids making mason jar ice cream!
My paternal grandmother made Mason Jar butter. We always had one or two Jersey cows on the farm and their milk has a high fat content and good for making butter. She would put the milk into the refrigerator overnight until the cream rose to the top. She would then skim the cream off the top and fill a jar about three fourths full and shake it back and forth until it turned into butter. It was a long time ago but the best I can remember it didn't a long time – maybe an hour.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
200
Sounds just like kids making mason jar ice cream!
We had an ice cream maker that was essentially a mason jar in a bucket with a lid, that you rolled around. The kids would sit to either side of the table and roll it back and forth. Don't remember how good the ice cream was, just remember the process!

This is easy-I've done it before...pour heavy cream into food processer!:
The first time my mother made (tried to make, rather) whipped cream with her KitchenAde mixer, she ended up making butter!

Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, cracked me up because she decided to "make butter" and thought it would take a whole day, then proceeds to do perhaps a couple of quarts in an hour or so, and can't understand why the books make such a production of the process. Maybe because it takes a lot longer to churn ten gallons than a few quarts, Wendy? Temperature is also crucial, although I would guess Ma Ingalls had some grasp of that (they seem to have figured it out by the Civil War, anyhow, since they were making churns with two chambers so you could fill one with water to adjust the temp of the cream). Before they realized the right temp for making butter, women could churn all day and the cream would never turn to butter!

Thomas Sowell has a lot to say about butter in his Black Rednecks and White Liberals essay -- mostly about how Southerners wouldn't make it.

While the making of butter and cheese might seem to be an unremarkable activity in most rural communities, butter-and cheese-making by these farmers of non-Southern origins was in fact exceptional in the South. One of Frederick Law Olmsted’s complaints during his travels through the antebellum South was the scarcity of butter, despite all the cows he saw. Even among plantation owners, he said, “as for butter, some have heard of it, some have seen it, but few have eaten it.” Hard data support his conclusions about the scarcity of butter in the antebellum South despite an abundance of cows. In 1860s, the South had 40 percent of all the dairy cows in the country, but produced just 20 percent of the butter and only one percent of the cheese.

...

In 1858 the dairies producing whole milk for the city of Louisville, Kentucky, were described as ‘probably as well conducted as any in the country,’ but almost without exception managed by Swiss or German operatives....


... a newspaper in South Carolina said in 1857: “Good butter is indeed a luxury to almost every planter in the Southern country, and there is, perhaps, no one article of food that is more eagerly sought after.” In antebellum Virginia, a Richmond newspaper likewise complained of the scarcity of good butter, saying that the quality of butter available in the local market “would hardly be thought good enough to grease a cart-wheel.” When considering legislation to try to remedy the situation, a member of the Virginia legislator attributed the poor quality of that state’s butter to the carelessness with which Virginia farmers prepared it.

One reason for the contrast between the abundance of butter and cheese produced by German farmers in states like Wisconsin, for example, and the scarcity of butter and cheese in the South was that German farmers, wherever they were located, tended to build fences and huge barns for their livestock, and to feed them during the winter. Southerners more often let their cows and hogs roam freely during the winter even though this meant that in the spring they turned up half starved and it took the summer for them to put on normal weight.
I was reading a book about early Indiana settlers, written by the son of some of them, where the author talks about people having a "just work hard enough to get by" kind of attitude. Pretty sure Mr. Sowell agrees with the historians of the time, who supposedly considered this approach to life just deplorable!
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top