Homemade Butter - Ag In The Classroom


Homemade Butter
Background information
Butter is made from cream, a component of milk. Cream is lighter than the
rest of the milk and floats to the top, where it can be skimmed off and
packaged separately. One pound of butter can be made from the cream
found in ten quarts of milk. The more butterfat milk contains the more butter
it will make. The Jersey breed of dairy cattle produces milk with the highest
percentage of butterfat. The Holstein breed gives the greatest quantity of
milk, but with the lowest percentage of butterfat.
What is happening during the butter making process?
To make butter from the cream, the cream is
agitated (stirred up) so that the fat particles get shaken out of position and clump together with other
fat particles. The clumping first allows tiny air bubbles to be trapped in the cream, forming a light and
airy product you might have had, called whipped cream. But if the agitation is continued, the fat
particles start to clump so much that the air can no longer be held by the cream, and butter forms. As
you can probably see now, butter is basically the milk's fat. By time the butter forms from the cream,
the fat particles have clearly separated from the liquid in the cream. This liquid can be removed and
made into buttermilk.
(Science Buddies Staff. (2013, November 16). Shaking for Butter. Retrieved October
17, 2014 from
Materials Needed
Jar (pint-sized)
**Note** for individual butter making, consider using 2 ounce plastic cups with lids.
Heavy whipping cream, preferably at room temperature
1. Fill container 2/3 full with heavy whipping cream. Firmly secure the lid.
2. Share the container briskly for 5-10 minutes (the more cream in the container, the longer it will
take). Continue shaking until the butter is a solid lump in the jar. Once the butter has formed,
open the jar and pour off the buttermilk. See the attached “What’s Happening” worksheet to
engage students in making observations during the butter making process.
3. To make salted butter, add salt just before the butter is formed.
4. Spread butter on crackers and enjoy!
Extension Activities
Try salting before shaking
Experiment by having students record the temperature of cream when beginning, length of
time and number of shakes it takes for butter to form.
Instead of using heavy whipping cream, try using light cream, whole mile and 2% milk.
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