How to make butter

5:11 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Someone a while back was asking about butter in the backcountry.

I just found this online about how to make butter from scratch, nothing any colonial person could not have told us, but anyway it works very simply. And the only ingredient could be easily carryed camping. Watch and see...

9:46 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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My mom's family had a cow and she used to churn butter.  I know my dad's family did also but I don't think he did the churning but he did milk the cow.

The churn  looks very similar to this one:

Now for the mildly amusing story. 

My mom and her sisters took piano lessons. The teacher would come out and spend the night.  She would always rave about how good the butter was.  What she didn't realize was that when the cow was dry my grandmother would put the coloring in the margarine (in the 30's and early 40's margarine came with a packet of yellow coloring to mix in if you wanted to) and then into the butter mold.  She couldn't tell the difference.


2:07 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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That's funny about the margarine. I remember as a kid the bit about coloring the margarine. Seems the dairy industry was afraid of the competition from cheaper margarine, especially during WWII when real butter was reserved for the military. As I remember it, the uncolored margarine lasted until '49 or '50. It was packaged in a sealed clear plastic heat-sealed packet with a yellow dot of coloring on the side. You could break the packet and knead the bag until the coloring was spread uniformly. As kids, my sister and I would take turns at kneading the bag (I wanted to do it all by myself, but our mother made us take turns). But the margarine then definitely did NOT taste like real butter.

A lot of times, we would buy whole milk that was not homogenized. There were a few years when we leased our ranch to a dairy farmer, getting the milk as part payment (land my father, grandfather, and an uncle homesteaded in the 1930s). We would skim the cream off and churn the cream into butter. But our churn was not a fancy hand-cranked one like the image above. Then again, we had 25 cycle electricity on the reservation until 1948, when we got 60 cycle power (and had to convert the refrigerator, washer, and my  mother's sewing machine.

3:35 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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I remember getting milk from the dairy (upper state NY) still warm from the cows. We exchanged our empty gallon jars for full ones at the dairy. And it was an honor system whereas my mother would put her money in an cigar box and make change if needed from it.

My mother would put the milk in the fridge till the fat came to the top and then she would scoop this off for her and my dads coffee and my dad ate it on his shredded wheat instead of the milk.

It wasn't until I went off to college that I bought milk from the grocery store.

3:47 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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It was fun doing this as a kid.

6:44 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Well for anyone wanting good butter on the trail a small nalgene or other bottle could be substituted. And cream could be carryed to the campspot and made into fresh butter on the spot. I like stick bread (see my recipe and directions in an older post below) and this would be a good way to have butter and jam/honey, etc on the trail. In winter I guess one would have to find a way to ferment the cream.

April 20, 2018
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