Saturday, 17 July 2010

A couple of projects for the kids and you to try - Pt 1 - Butter making.

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I was going to post these separately, but I decided to combine them as one post on things you could try with your kids (if you have any, and if you don't, why not try them anyway ?)

The first thing is butter making, my family and I have been watching a series on BBC2 hosted by Ben Fogle and called Escape in time it's basically a program where family's try their hands at living life on a Victorian farm, each family takes part in various jobs that would have been done on a day to day basis on a Victorian farm, it's a good program for kid's my son has found it very interesting because of the differences between how life was then and how it is now, and one of the tasks was butter making.

Now on the program they used 8 pint's of cream (which came from the farms cows) and a big butter churn, but you can do it on a smaller scale, and get some pretty good butter out of it, I've tried it, and I have to say that there is a certain pleasure to be had in making your own butter.

What do you need to make butter ? well basically you need double cream, you can use milk and single cream I guess, but it may take longer to get your butter, so go for double cream is my advice.

So you have you double cream, which can be bought from supermarkets, corner shops and loads of other places, you can use organic cream, and raw cream (I think raw cream and milk, are basically unpasteurised)  what else do you need ? well apart from a strongish arm (I'll explain in a minute) you will need a medium sized jam jar, or some other similar container, see below for full list of equipment and supplies.

  1. Double cream
  2. Medium sized jam jar or other container with a good sealing lid.
  3. A couple of plastic tubs or bowls will do just as well.
  4. Something to strain liquid from solid, a sieve or colander, or some cloth perhaps ?
  5. Salt, this is optional.
 Here's a picture -

Lets make some butter.

I know, there are no tub's / bowl's in the picture :-)

The method is pretty simple, pour some cream into the jar (but leave room in the jar for the cream to move about, if it's too full it won't work) and leave it at room temperature for about an hour, it seems to work better if you do this first.

Now a 1/4 of a pint of double cream will make about 3 ounces of butter (give or take)

After an hour get your jar of cream and start shaking (hence the strongish arms) the shaking method is up to you, but it's best to try and keep it consistent, I've only actually done this twice, but each time it's taken about 10minutes or so of shaking before something happens, and it is quite quick, you will notice a change in the contents of the jar as the fat (which is what butter is) separates from the cream, once it's done don't shake for too much longer as this can make a waxy butter (from what I've read on line)

Next open up the jar and have a look, what you should have is a lump of butter with a slight yellowy tint to it and butter milk, which looks like... well milk.

Empty the contents into you straining device of choice, so that the butter milk can drain way.

If you have watched the program I mentioned and you saw the episode where butter was made you will remember that it was washed and then squeezed to get as much of the butter milk out, I have to say the first time I tried this I didn't wash the butter, and it does make a difference, so rinse your newly made butter under the cold tap, or you can fill a jug and rinse that way, but keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
You don't have to go mad with this next part, but trying to squeeze a bit more butter milk out of the butter makes a difference, our first lot was kind of creamy, the second was much more like butter.
To squeeze more butter milk out I just put the butter in a largish tub and mashed the hell out of it with a fork, while keeping the tub at an angle so the milk could drain of, although to be honest not much came out.

After you're happy you have got enough butter milk out then you can add some salt to taste, or not if you prefer unsalted butter, stick it in a tub or you can shape it into a little pat of butter and put it in the fridge, and that's it.

All in all it took me about half an hour or so to get this

Home made butter in half an hour or so.

I think it's pretty good, and if you like butter you might be surprised at how it tastes compared to shop bought butter, why not have a go and see if you can get the kids to help, maybe make a little lesson out of it and do a little research on why people used to make more of their own food.

Thanks for reading.

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