Bowl of butter on blue background, from above

Make your own sweet cream butter that rivals homemade Amish butter by using fresh cream and a jar churn. The Dazey Churn and Manufacturing Company produced most of the original jar churns now prized by collectors, but you can purchase working reproduction churns that perform just as well. Jar churns consist of a glass jar with a screw-on lid fitted with a paddle and a crank handle. An alternative method is to make butter in a bowl with an electric mixer.

Butter is made from cream, the fat in milk; therefore, the highest-quality cream results in the best quality butter. Fat is lighter than milk, so if you leave raw milk in a container, the cream floats to the top, or separates from the milk. Dairies leave different percentages of cream in processed milk to achieve skim, 1 percent, 2 percent or whole milk. After it’s homogenized, the fat no longer separates.

When you churn cream, the action agitates it, stripping membranes from the fat cells so they cling together as globules. As the fat globules collect and become butter, they break from the liquid. The resulting liquid is pure, fresh buttermilk, fat-free and ready to use in your favorite recipes. Make buttermilk pancakes to spread your fresh-churned butter on -- that’s quite a bonus!

Pour room-temperature heavy whipping cream into the jar of the churn. Cold cream slows the butter formation. Use the correct volume of cream for the churn size; the paddles should be completely immersed to work properly.

Attach the churn lid.

Turn the churn crank. The cream gradually thickens to whipped cream, and then quickly separates into butter and buttermilk. The process should take about 20 minutes, depending on the volume of cream you’re working with and how fast you churn.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the contents of the churn into the strainer. Catch the buttermilk in the bowl and use it immediately or refrigerate it. Fresh buttermilk keeps for four to five days in the refrigerator.

Rinse the curds of butter in the strainer under a mild stream of cold water.

Put the butter curds into a bowl. Press them together with butter paddles or a spatula to remove all the water. Keep pressing and turning the butter until it forms a mass in the bowl. Store the butter in containers in the refrigerator.


You can also line the strainer with cheesecloth, then pour in the contents of the churn. Wrap the cheesecloth around the butter curds to make a ball, and lift it from the strainer. Holding it over the bowl, wring the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.

Pour any amount of room temperature cream into a room temperature bowl.

Lower the beaters of an electric mixer into the cream and turn the mixer on high.

Continue mixing. The cream first whips, then breaks into butter and buttermilk. It should take about 10 minutes with an electric mixer.

Pour off the buttermilk, rinse the butter curds and then press the water out of the butter.


You may wish to place a shield or a towel over the mixer to prevent splatters.