Homemade Butter…in a jar!

My Kitchen Aid stand mixer has started to sound a little like a jet taking off. I’ve taken to wearing ear plugs when mixing.

I was reminded of a somewhat quieter time of butter making. It was pioneer day at elementary school. We used a jar. Add cream to a jar and pass it around a roomful of school kids and soon enough you’ll have butter. Pretty cool. In the interest of peace and quiet, I decided to give the jar a go again.

I poured cream into a mason jar, screwed the lid on tight, noted the time and started shaking. After what felt like an inordinate amount of time, my cream had reached the whipped cream stage. I though about stopping there, since my husband would be happy eating whipped cream even if it was on cardboard. I glanced at the clock and noticed that only three minutes had slipped by. Surely I could give it another three minutes or so. The next five minutes went by fast. The whipped cream suddenly gave way to a solid mass of butter sloshing around in buttermilk, no earplugs required.

Cows munching on grass produce milk that is particularly high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA wasn’t identified until the mid 80s, but quickly piqued many nutritionists’ interest. CLA is purported to have anti-cancer properties and helps fight inflammation. Meat and dairy from grass-fed animals can produce 300-500% more CLA than cattle on a typical fed-lot diet of corn silage grain/corn.

I am not one to shy away from using butter. It seems that after the trans-fat debacle, good, old-fashioned butter is back in favor with many health experts, though most still say that you should enjoy it with moderation. I’m in the camp that butter from grass-fed cows is actually healthy for you, so I eat it with impunity!

Heavy cream (from grass-fed cows, preferably)
Salt (optional)
Note: a pint of cream will yield 1 cup of butter


  • Dump the cream in the jar with a tight fitting lid and start shaking.
  • First the cream will turn into whipped cream. Keep shaking.
  • Then it starts to get stiff and looks like whipped butter. Keep shaking.
  • The butter will turn a pale yellow, and liquid will separate from it.
  • Drain the buttermilk and reserve. The buttermilk isn’t cultured so it isn’t the delicious thick kind my granddad drank, but you can use it in baking recipes in place of milk.
  • Next, the butter needs to be washed. Any buttermilk left in the butter will cause it to go rancid quickly. Place the butter in a bowl with cold water and knead using a wooden spoon or your hands. Press the butter against the side of the bowl to squeeze out the buttermilk. Drain and repeat the “washing” until the liquid is clear.
  • Salt to taste, if desired.

I find that homemade butter spoils quickly (I may not be washing it enough). When I make a batch, I only keep out what I plan to use in a day or two. I store the rest in the freezer. In both the fridge and the freezer, I make sure it is wrapped up tight.

This post is part of The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania.

2 Responses to “Homemade Butter…in a jar!”

  1. D. says:

    I know what you mean about the noisy Kitchen Aid mixer, but it sure works well when doing a larger amount. I used to love to make the butter in a jar with my kids when they were small. Now they’re 35, 33 and 23. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun!

    The secret to making butter faster, plus it’s easier to handle, is to have everything well chilled, including the mixer bowl and/or the jar, as well as the cream. Then it’s pretty easy to knead the butter with your hands, as long as the water (I use filtered water from a ceramic filter) is good and cold, too.

    I usually make some with sea salt and some with no salt. Just for kicks!


  2. […] and oh so many more, you can imagine my delight when I came across this relatively simple way to make my own homemade butter in a mason jar.  It involved a whole lotta shaking, and that’s about it.  My curiosity was officially […]

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