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  • Writer's pictureLea

How to Make Old Fashioned Butter

Welcome to the creamy dreamy world of old fashioned hand churned butter. If you have never before tasted slow churned homemade butter from healthy grass fed cows, then you have never truly tasted butter as butter was intended to taste. I tell you what, it's hard to ever go back. If you are someone who learns better visually, I have a step by step video tutorial for this butter making process at the bottom of this blog post.

What you will need:

  • Cream

* You want to make sure that you are using cream. Milk or half and half will not turn into butter. You can acquire cream from the grocery store, a local dairy farm, or from raw milk. If you are able to acquire raw milk, you will want to pour it into a glass jar and allow it to sit in the fridge for a day or two. You will see the cream separate from the milk and rise to the top of your jar. At this point, you can scoop the cream off of the top of your milk and use that to make butter. Pasteurized milk from the grocery store will not give you cream. We have found a family farm that sells containers of the pre-scooped cream, which has been very handy. If you are able to get your hands on cream or raw milk that has been fully pastured or grass-fed, this will give you the healthiest and best tasting butter. I encourage you to use common sense and do your due diligence when acquiring any raw dairy products. I would not consume raw dairy from factory bred cows as there is a higher chance of contamination. You want to make sure that you are getting your dairy from cows that are from small scale farms with clean and humane practices.

  • A Butter Churner

*This can be as simple as a mason jar with tight fitting lid, or you can use a manual butter churner (vintage or new)


1 quart of cream will make approximately 1 pound of butter, and 2 cups of buttermilk.

2 cups of cream will make approximately what we would think of today as 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup of buttermilk.


  1. Allow your cream to come to just about room temperature. This typically takes 30-60 minutes once you take the cream out of the fridge depending on the temperature of the room. If your cream is too cold, it will take a VERY long time to churn your butter. If your cream is too warm, it will result in butter that is too soft and mushy. Just like goldilocks, we want it just right.

  2. Add your cream to your mason jar or manual butter churner and begin to agitate the cream. If you are using a mason jar, put on a tight fitting lid, and simply begin to shake your mason jar to agitate the cream. If you are using a manual butter churner, you will begin to crank your handle, and allow the paddles in the jar to agitate the cream. With the old fashioned butter barrels, the women would simply move a wooden dowel up and down inside the barrel. Agitating the cream causes the buttermilk to separate from the fat solids and you will eventually end up with buttermilk and fresh churned butter. You will want to try and churn at a consistent pace. You do not need to be whipping it around at top speed, but you don't want to stir too slow either, as you want that cream to fluff up. Do not add cream all the way to the top of your jar, as your cream will start to fluff up as you go along in the process, and you don't want overflow.

  3. The first thing that you will notice is that the cream will begin to fluff and expand, as if you are beginning to make whipped cream. Further along in the process, you will notice that your crank is becoming more challenging to turn, and you will see little air pockets forming in your jar. This is good! You will then most likely feel the process smooth out again. Do not panic, this is part of the process. A minute or two later, the butter will emerge from the buttermilk, and the crank will become very hard to turn. Once you can see the wonderful yellowy butter inside your jar, you are done with the shaking or cranking. The churning process should take approximately 15-30 mins.

  4. If you want to save your buttermilk to use in recipes, simply pour your buttermilk from the jar through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth, into another clean jar, and store in your fridge. Allow your butter to drain through the mesh until most of the buttermilk has strained off. Homemade buttermilk will last approximately 2 weeks in your fridge.

  5. Using your wooden kitchen utensils or butter paddles, gather your butter together into a ball and place it into a very cold bowl of water. Rinsing any remaining buttermilk out of your butter, will help it to last longer in the fridge.

  6. Squeeze your butter with your wooden utensils or paddles and rinse again until most of your buttermilk is rinsed from your butter. If your water is very cloudy, you may have to change the water a couple times to get all the buttermilk out.

  7. Gently pat any excess moisture off your butter with a clean rag or paper towel.

  8. If you want to add salt or herbs, this is the time. Add your salt and mix into the butter until evenly distributed. If you used 2 cups of cream to make your butter, you can add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt to the butter. If you used a quart of cream to make your butter, you can add 1 -2 teaspoons. I would start with less and see how you like the taste.

  9. Shape your butter however you prefer, or use a butter mold, and place in the fridge to harden. If you are using a butter mold, you will want to place the butter mold with the butter in it, into the fridge for a couple of hours, and then pop your butter out of the mold before storing. Homemade butter will last in the fridge approximately 2-3 weeks depending on how much buttermilk you washed out and whether or not it is salted.

  10. *Video instructions below*

*Some links on this website or blog may contain affiliate products or links. This means that If purchases are made through links on this website, I may receive a commission*

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