You might remember from last year that once a year my students get to choose their own topic of study for a month. This year the winner was something they called “Ooshy, Gooshy, Take Home Science.” So this month I have been up to my elbows in goo each day as we explore the messiest science experiments I can find, and at the end of the day there is always something ooshy or gooshy for them to take home with them.
On one of our theme days I decided to teach the students about kitchen chemistry. We had already learned about suspensions in a previous science experiment (a solution where solid molecules are suspended in a liquid) so making our own butter seemed like a good extension of this.
It was a hit! (With the students and the grown-ups in the room.) It was fun to make, and delicious spread on our home-made pizza dough (we studied how leavening agents work) with a little garlic and cheese as homemade garlic fingers.
You can make your own butter, too. Here’s how:
Start with whipping cream and a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. (The bigger the jar, the harder work this is going to be so start small.)
Fill the jar 1/3 full of cream.
This takes a lot of shaking, and if there are kids doing it, a lot of “is it done yet? Can we look at it? If you stop to look, you will see that it is getting thicker, but it’s not butter yet.
Put some good shaking music on to renew the motivation to keep shaking! In my classroom we enjoyed shaking around to “Philadelphia Chickens” from the Sandra Boynton CD of the same title.
Eventually it is going to get so thick that you feel like you can’t shake anymore. Trust me, it can be done.
On the outside the jar is all white. On the inside you will find you’ve made whipping cream. Yummy, but not the goal for the day. Put the lid back on and shake some more.
You will know your shaking is paying off when you start to see little bits of clear glass again. Keep shaking.
As the cream turns into butter and buttermilk the sides of the jar will become clear again and you will be able to see the butter starting to gather. Keep shaking until you have a nice clump of butter and some milky white liquid (the buttermilk)
Open the jar and pour off the buttermilk (you can save it for baking if you like.) Rinse your butter with cold water and transfer to a serving dish.
You have just made your very own butter! (and enjoyed a good arm workout, too!) Enjoy!