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Butter me up!

September 19, 2008

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X-factor butter

An important part of homesteading is supplying your food needs.  We have all grown up being told butter, and saturated fat is bad for us.  I don’t happen to believe that is true, knowing people who worked hard, ate red meat, butter, whole milk, and eggs from their farms and lived to the ripe old age of 80 to 90 years.  Sure, they died, but they were active and working their land, right up to the last breath almost.  It cracks me up to hear people say. “Well, you know, old so & so, he was drinking whole milk, no wonder he died!”  I always think that’s probably why he was still hauling hay and splitting ten cords of wood a year… . None of us will live forever. 

This is kind of a peak oil subject, The End, or whatever you want to call it.  I think fats are an overlooked item, when people are thinking of stocking up on food.  Your brain needs good fat, to help you think clearly.  Your body needs good fat to supply energy needs.  High cholesterol means that your body is trying to repair itself – cancer maybe?  Low cholesterol is just as bad, it means something in the machine we call a body, is not functioning properly.  For us, a dairy cow is a good fit, we can have milk, butter, cheese, and the cow will raise it’s calf for us for beef, all on feedstuffs we can grow and harvest ourselves.  We have pasture, so that is why the cow is our dairy animal of choice.  Grass not grain, will give you healthy butter to eat.  If you have more brush, goats would be a better choice.  We also have cougar predation problems, so cattle are easier for us to keep.

In this post I will show how we make our butter, with a few tips, and tricks along the way.
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L –  2 gallon Dazey Churn   R – 1gallon Dazey Churn

These churns weren’t passed down to me, I bought them.  I bought the top first for the one gallon churn, at an antique store.  As the case with many churns, the jar had been broken.  I used a new replacement jar from NASCO farm supply for many years before I found an original #40 jar at a flea market.  I also found the screen at a garage sale in a free box.  That churn dates from the ’20’s and is still a good design.

The 2 gallon #8 was purchased on eBay, and it was only $65.00, I use it the most.  I can make twice the butter in the same amount of time, as the smaller churn.  I also have a 3 gallon Dazey that I got as a BD present this year.  I was too lazy to dust it off for the picture, but it is made out of metal, and sits in a cast iron stand.

What makes these work so well, is the shape of the jar.  Either square, or with the indentations in the pear shaped jar.  I see churns for sale, old or new matched with just any jar, most of the time the jar is round (because the lid just happens to fit).  This is another case of oversimplifying a complex task.  I can churn my butter in 7 – 10 minutes with my hand cranked churns.  If you are trying to make butter in a round bowl (Kitchenaid perhaps) or a round jar, and it is taking a long time, think about it.  With a square jar the cream isn’t just being swirled around, it is being agitated and that’s what it takes to make butter fast. (plus a few other factors I’ll talk about below)  Higher power in the form of electricity isn’t necessarily needed, I borrowed a friend’s new Gem Dandy electric churn once, it took forever and I had to watch the damn thing to boot.  Sometimes multi-tasking in the form of “Oh while the butter is churning I’ll go do something else” just creates more work.  At least with my easily distracted mind it does.  I might offer up some food for thought here too, an easy approach with our food isn’t a bad thing.  It’s known that milking machines forcibly milking a cow will damage the teat canal over time, making your cow more susceptible to mastitis.  Could it be that maybe whipping your butter for a long time could lessen it’s food value?  We all know what overbeating egg whites for cake leavening does.  I’m not saying people should milk 50 cows by hand, or even 5, but sometimes all these little things add up to big things.  We humans are soooo good at changing and tweaking and making our lives a little easier, it is hard to know where to stop.  I have stopped at hand milking and hand churning for our dairy needs.  Oops, there is that belly aching thing again – on to the churning…

The amount of cream you have to churn, determines what size of churn you need.  To work properly, you need to fill the jar half-full.  A 2 gallon churn uses 1 gallon of cream, a 1 gallon, uses a 1/2 gallon of cream.  If you fill the churn jar more than this, it won’t churn as well, and much less won’t give the desired results either.  So size really does matter. 😉

How much milk does it take to get a 1/2 gallon of cream?  Well, like every other question – the answer is, that depends.  I hand skim, so it takes 4 gallons for me to gather a 1/2 gallon of cream and this would yield 1 pound of butter.  My cow is giving 4 gallons a day, so ideally I could get a pound of butter each day, if I skim every single gallon of milk.  That doesn’t happen, we drink whole milk, so some of that isn’t available for butter making.  I could get more cream if I wanted to use my cream separator, but I don’t want to wash the cream separator every day, and they work the best with warm milk, so using that machine would mean more daily milk chores for me, which I don’t want.  So the trade-off is that I get less cream, and the bucket calf, and the pigs get a little more.  And, that is OK, I’m trying to grow them, and save on my feed bill.  Also, if Della’s calves had lived, I would be sharing that milk with them.  I let my milk cow’s calves nurse, so they get whole milk, from their mother, not me.  This is also the best way to avoid mastitis, besides providing a clean area for your cow.  A calf can get that last drop of milk out much better than any human or machine.  I laugh every time I read in a vet book about cows not liking stripping.  I don’t either! 😉 

The cream should be allowed to rise at least 24 hours before skimming.

This is an antique cream skimmer, but I don’t use it.  This would be used on a shallow pan of milk like Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in Little House. 

I use a large serving spoon.  I don’t get every last bit of cream, but that is OK.  To lessen chance of contamination I don’t skim until I have enough milk at least 24 hours old to make a churning of butter.  Which means I wait until I have 8 gallons of milk, because if I skimmed each gallon as the cream was ready, I could be potentially contaminating the cream.  It took me awhile to figure this one out, I would skim a half gallon worth of cream, and then it would be a few days before I had enough to skim the second 1/2 gallon, and lo and behold, sometimes my first batch of cream was spoiled.   I also taste the cream on each jar before skimming it.  It doesn’t take much bad cream to ruin a lot of good cream.  The worst enemy for milk spoilage in the home dairy are jars that aren’t clean.  And, this means not properly rinsed of all soap residue too.  Most people concentrate on getting the milk out of the cow, and into the house clean, and then quit worrying about it.  I use Lifetree* liquid soap on my milk utensils, and canning jars.  It leaves no residues, and really gets the jars and buckets clean.   * Available from Azure Standard

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Half gallon of cream, this would yield one pound of butter and at least a quart of buttermilk.

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A dairy thermometer is helpful, but not necessary.  Cream should be around 62* F to churn easily.  After skimming, I leave my cream out to ripen, sometimes overnight, if it gets too warm, I will refrigerate it until the desired 62*.  If you want cultured butter and buttermilk, add it before ripening.  A good store brand of cultured buttermilk will work fine, for a culture, if you don’t want to spend the money for mail order cultures.  You can use this for awhile, but you can get some wild bacteria going if you keep using your own cultured buttermilk for too long.  So if your cream starts getting an off taste, and you’re sure you are being sanitary in every other area, buy some more buttermilk.  Those companies change their cultures often for the same reason.

Early lactation cream is easier to churn.  The fat globules are larger in order to make it easier for a young calf to digest.  So you can use this to your advantage, I try to make all my butter early in the cow’s lactation so it doesn’t take so much time.  At this point, the cow is giving more milk than the calf needs, and I want more butter, which I can easily store in the freezer for up to a year.  Cream also churns easier if a cow is on grass, hay and grain can make the cream “hard”, which is easy to overlook if you are using a machine to churn.  This is old time knowledge that maybe shouldn’t be overlooked in some cases. 

The optimum time for calving and butter and cheese making, is in the spring through summer months.  We as a society have pushed these old seasonal norms to year round, but does anyone remember the story of Heidi, it was based on the premise, that the dairy products from animals grazed on mineralized pastures during spring and summer, was truly a healing food.  Simple, yet so soon forgotten.
Two gallon churn with one gallon of cream.  Ready to churn.

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After churning 3 – 5 minutes, the you should start to see the butter flecks forming, the buttermilk is separating.  This is called washing, because you can see through the glass.  Before this point you couldn’t see into the jar and the cream was well, umm, err, cream colored.


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Now at 7 minutes, it looks like butter and milk.  The handle is getting harder to crank at this moment. 

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Now it is fully separated.  At this point, I pour out the buttermilk and add cold water to the butter, just to use the action of the churn to wash the butter a little before I work it. 

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A few cranks, pour out (this goes in the pig bucket) and repeat. 

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The second rinsing in the churn, the butter is too hard to force with the paddle.  Pour out the water, and transfer to a bowl of cold water. 

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Here you will work the butter with a paddle, or your hands.  You need to continually work the butter to work out all traces of buttermilk.  If you don’t, the butter will get rancid in storage. 😦 

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This takes several (many) washings.  My rule of thumb is the same as when I’m rinsing my milk jars and buckets.  If I think I’m done, I rinse at least one more time. 

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This is my “one more time”  the water is clear, with only a sheen of oil, which is OK.  Make sure you use cold water, (not ice water, unless it is the middle of summer) because you don’t want the butter to soften too much and get “greasy.”  I know butter is grease, but you will know what I mean when you actually are making it.  But it is hard to explain, kinda like what on earth is shaggy dough?  Well, when you start making bread,and you get shaggy dough, then it all makes sense!

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After the water runs clear, you then work out all the water you can.  I add salt to my butter, so I do it at this time, so the working with the paddle will distribute the salt.  I’m using Redmond Real Salt, but if a dark speck in your butter tenses you out, use something else.  I salt to taste, so the amount is up to you.

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I freeze my butter in glass wide mouth pint canning jars, with recycled lids.  I date them so I can use the butter in chronological order.  I don’t worry about what else is written on the lid, because it is obvious that this butter, not LARD or PEACHES.  Butter is a solid mass, so it won’t expand, I fill these to the brim, and don’t worry about expansion.

Why glass?  Because my naturopath told me it was safer, I can reuse this container many times, and my friend gave me some brand new, square plastic containers for my butter freezing.  And it says right on the label, DO NOT USE WITH HIGH FAT CONTENT FOODS.  So I’ll pass on the better living through science, and let someone else be the guinea pig.

I also realize there are a lot of issues out there.  Why freeze the butter, it uses electricity.  Especially when I could make butter fresh, the entire length of the lactation.  But, for me, I would rather do it by hand when it is easy to churn, and store it, than I would churn for an hour or spend the money on an electric churn or mixer.  So whether you are hand churning and freezing, or using an electric churn or mixer and not freezing, there is still some energy use involved at some point in the process.  This is just our method, each farmstead will be different.  I’m not a purist by any means, I love to machine piece my quilts, but I dearly love to hand quilt and embroider, believing a blend of methods is the best way in all aspects of my life.  It’s all hard work, but I want to enjoy the journey.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2008 1:12 pm

    As usual, a wonderful post for me to keep on hand!

  2. September 19, 2008 2:42 pm

    Whoa! That was so very, very interesting! Think I read it about ten times. So much information and so concisely presented.

    Are you planning on putting your postings into a book? A sort of “How to” on all these topics? You should. You have so much information and do so many things!

  3. September 19, 2008 2:53 pm

    Great post!

    I know so much what you mean about being a purist. Living the way we do is hard but nice work but it’s also great to use the technology we can to make life a little bit easier.

    Never feel guilty about that!

    Irene x

  4. September 19, 2008 3:51 pm

    Great informative post on butter making. I will experiment with goat milk next year and maybe the year after cow milk. I will have to start keeping a look out at the antique stores for some churns. What kind of cattle do you raise, I cannot remember. Happy weekend!

  5. September 19, 2008 8:53 pm

    When I was little, the milk man would deliver milk to our house a couple times a week in glass bottles with little paper lid coverings. The cream would always rise to the top, and my mom would spoon it off and save it for coffee or other cooking needs. A great treat for me was when she would spoon some of it on top of oatmeal or cereal for me. Seeing you spoon the cream off brought back that long ago memory.

    I cook with butter, olive oil, and canola oil. I don’t use margarine, lard, crisco, sprays or “spreads”. I have had foods prepared with lard, though, and I’ve got to admit that those foods were incredibly good.

    We’ve only made butter during experiments, and it tasted terrific, but was very pale in color unlike the rich color of yours. How often do you do this? I had no idea that the shape of the churn jar aids in the butter making process. Butter and cream, cream and butter … YUM!

  6. September 19, 2008 8:58 pm

    Of course, the minute I hit send msg I realized that I do use Crisco for greasing dishes … I meant that I don’t cook with it. I know many folks who do, though.

    I wonder if it’s a regional thing, too. Back home in Indiana, corn oil is very widely used. Some areas prefer peanut oil. Others will only touch butter. Hmmm … something to think about.

  7. September 19, 2008 11:00 pm

    Kathie, thanks.

    Pamela, thanks, Dell Comics just contacted me about writing a comic book 😉 just kidding. I’m actually surprised anybody reads this stuff.

    BTW, I enjoyed your comment explaining the bitting process on your Paso’s. Congratulations on your show win!

    Hardworkinghippy, thanks, we live in wonderful times, don’t we, with choices of technology that are amazing. I really enjoy your site, thanks for stopping by.

    Kim, if you keep on the lookout you might find a churn cheaper than new. They work just as good if they are in good shape.

    Our beef cows are predominantly Hereford, and our family cow is an old style (smaller, less milk) Guernsey.

    Paula, I enjoyed your story about the milk delivery. I love cream! I used to put it in my coffee, but then I have to have sugar, and it tastes so good, then I would have to have another pot!! The butter is yellow because the cow is grazing, the less grass a cow gets the paler (less vitamins) the butter will be. Some (most) dairy cattle never even eat grass. But grass is what gives the butter its vitamins, and CLA. When people talk about the health disadvantages of beef, and dairy products, they usually are comparing conventionally raised feedlot beef and conventionally fed dairy cattle, and I agree those types of meat and dairy aren’t good for you, but grassfed is a totally different product. Even the buffalo that is so popular,(and marketed very well I might add) as a health giving food is usually feedlot, grain fed buffalo. It’s what the animal eats that makes a difference, not who the animal was. For instance a farm raised elk, dining on alfalfa and grain will not have the same nutritional profile as a wild elk that has been foraging.

    Pie crust made with lard is very good, but I won the Cherry Pie baking contest with Crisco when I was in High School, and it was good too. I been using a lot of coconut oil lately, and I like the flavor and it’s fairly high heating point. We have our own butter, and lard and I buy olive oil and coconut oil. A good book about fats is KNOW YOUR FATS, by Mary Enig and another interesting read is THE CHOLESTEROL MYTH, by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D. Ph.D But, maybe the book you would find the most interesting is NOURISHING TRADITIONS, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. It is marketed as a cookbook, but the amount of information contained in that book is astounding. My daughter gives her horse corn oil in the winter for energy, and it is very yellow, when you look for it in the store you can spot it by the color.

    It’s funny about the peanut oil, my DH used to collect Griswold Cast Iron, and one dealer he always bought from, swore by peanut oil for seasoning those pans. That guy was an interesting fellow, I bought my most favorite quilt top from him too!

    I’ll probably be churning every other day, until I get 50 lbs of butter, or when my arm gets too tired. Which ever comes first. 🙂 However, hand milking makes for strong arms. I had 9 weeks off and it was like I never quit milking. Keeps my hands flexible for all the quilting I want to do and never seem to get to… I owe a special little girl in Indiana ( a quilt, and I’m afraid she’ll be getting it for her wedding if I don’t get busy!

  8. September 20, 2008 3:51 am

    new reader loving your blog. inspired to learn more about getting a dairy cow for our farm someday… and make butter! yummm.

  9. September 20, 2008 8:20 am

    I’m a big butter lover myself and never jumped on the margarine bandwagon like so many others did. “Everything in moderation” is what I say– of course some things are bad for you if you eat too much of it!

    Funny– My husbands’ great aunt and uncle had a butter churn in their home for decoration and I always admired it, but they said it was an ice cream maker. They were city folks, so maybe they didn’t know, but I knew it as a butter churn. I meant to ask them one day if I could have it or buy it from them, but life happened quickly and it’s gone now.

    I like how you still use things that most people have discarded by now. SOmetimes the old things are still the best thing to use. I use an old meat grinder and I love putting it together and then taking it apart to clean. I also have an old orange juice press from the 40s and I swear the juice tastes better when I use it! :o)

    Living where I do, folks here don’t have the “city mentality” of out with the old and in with the new, so yard sales are always full of old stuff for me to rediscover. There have been things that I have been looking for for years when we lived in the suburbs that I find within weeks around here.

    When I was a teen, I stayed with a friend that lived on a dairy farm, and had milk and cream straight from the cow. Never forgot how fresh it tasted and I loved spending the week there, learning the trade and even saw some calves being born. It was a modern farm though, so it was all mechanized, but I still learned a lot. I’d really like my own milk cow some day…

  10. September 20, 2008 8:26 am

    Wonderful post, thank you!

    I wrote down your recommendation for washing soap – I’ve been looking for a better one and I already order from Azure Standard, so that’s a great recommendation!

    I love your tutorials – just the right mix of pictures and details.

  11. September 20, 2008 12:23 pm

    Heidi, thanks for stopping by.

    Jenny, LOL guess where my 2 gallon churn came from? West Virginia! Around here, prices are crazy on antiques. The churn was $55.00 and shipping was $10.00, the same thing, if I could even find it, would be twice that.

    I love going to estate sales, but I always think Gawd, I would hate people pawing through my stuff like that, but I go anyway – I found the sugar jar for my kitchen queen and a chair to complete our old set of pressbacks. That’s too bad though about the aunt and uncles churn, it would sure have been nice to have that to pass on to your little ones.

    I bet that juice does taste better with the old juicer, some of the old tools just work so much better. New isn’t always the answer.

    Sarah, thanks, I had to learn to be a little more concise :), when I was teaching patchwork at the local Community College. I wanted my students to be able to have a full size quilt top pieced and ready to quilt at the end of a 9 week course. I had to shut up and write good directions and make good samples to convey what they needed to know. I found most people want a mix of visual and written instructions. That’s how I learn the best.

    You’ll like that soap, it is concentrated and it only takes a small amount. I only use a gallon a year, and I try to buy it when Azure has it on sale. Did you know that they put certain things on sale the same month every year. Some items are 15% off, and you can stock up.

    Still dreaming about your marmalade cat…

  12. September 20, 2008 1:22 pm

    Love it! If I ever get around to trying this, I will definitely come back to read it again, and again, and again.

  13. September 20, 2008 1:43 pm

    Great post. I so wish we had a milk cow. I have been fortunate to find someone with a milk cow and we were doing butter and *trying* to do cheese. The cow owner sent the cow and calf out with the bull. It’s frustrating for me to button up and not to have any say.

    I had been doing the butter in the kitchen aid because of the mechanization while my daisy butter churn sits ontop of the cupboard as a decoration.

  14. September 21, 2008 5:29 am

    Gosh. I really loved this post. I feel like I learned something usefuleven though I’ve never had a cow and probably never will (though I wish I could).

    My grandparents were small dairy farmers in the 30s and 40s. I should send this post to my Oma.


  15. September 21, 2008 7:05 am

    Liz, thanks!

    Verde, thanks, that’s too bad about the cow. Did you mean they quit milking and let the calf have all the milk?

    I can spout off about my not using a Kitchenaid, because I don’t have one. 😉 So churn it is for me. Plus, it isn’t hard to do any a churn if the churn actually has a churn jar. Thanks for stopping by.

    Lisa B-K, thanks. Dairy farms were prevalent in most areas because of transportation issues. My how things have changed. Our county doesn’t even have a working dairy anymore. Smaller was better, but now bigger is better…
    Thanks for stopping by.

  16. September 24, 2008 6:49 am

    I AM SO JEALOUS!!!! While the notion of keeping a cow is something I can’t figure if I’d want to do or not, having that luscious cream for cheese and butter makes me crazy with jealousy!

    When I get to MI I’m hoping to find someone nearby that I can get milk from – not easy, I know, but I can dream/hope. I know there are quite a few farmers in the area that are dedicated to organic and naturally raised meats, so I can dream…

    Here I can buy raw milk on the shelf. Won’t be able to in Mi.


  17. September 27, 2008 9:54 am

    I wish I had seen this before our attempt at butter, this is a wonderful and informative tutorial. Thanks.

  18. September 27, 2008 6:01 pm

    What a fantastic ‘how to’ page. I’m quite envious of your being able to have cows! I wish I had the room (and the time). Your site is very lovely, I will enjoy working my way through it. Is that a minor bee on the sunflower in your header?

  19. September 29, 2008 11:25 am

    Every homestead is going to come up with their own unique mix of methods that work. Great blog. We used to freeze butter, until the day the freezer died. I had thirty pounds of butter to do something with. We made ghee out of it which stores at room temp like oil. And being off grid we started to re-think our power demands. Keeping all of that milk in the fridge to get the cream became an expensive venture for us. So we sourced out an old cream separator. And although I sometimes bemoaned my twice daily milk dishes, we could finally do away with the fridge and freezer and just keep the milk, cream and butter in a hydrocooler. (A beer cooler half full with cold well water.) I made butter fresh as we needed it and made the extra into ghee for off season and late lactation. What a revelation to me that I could produce my own dairy products without a fridge and freezer!

    PS, off flavored butter makes great ghee. The off flavor is not transferred to the final product. But with your careful method, you probably rarely have this problem!

  20. September 30, 2008 5:22 pm

    I’ve gotten so that I also like to do as many of my food prep jobs “au naturel” so to speak. Chopping my garlic is meditation for me.

    Your butter is just gorgeous.

  21. October 4, 2008 10:05 pm

    HowlingDuckRanch, thanks, I’m not sure about the bee…

    Freija, great tip on the ghee, we live in the land of hydro power, and I still rely on my freezers. But, now the word is the hydro dams should come out in order to save the salmon. Somehow the “brains” and the misled public seem to think it is better to haul coal in, and barge it up river and burn the coal to generate electricity, than it is to use the river that is flowing by. We (humans) are here now, and taking out the dams won’t save the fish, if they don’t stop the overfishing and polluting of the oceans.

    But that is way off point, the ghee is definitely worth doing, our water is delivered by hydraulic (water power) ram to a holding tank, and then gravity to the house, we are thinking of a spring house, for cool storage. I do have off flavor butter sometimes if we don’t use it fast enough, but only if it has been frozen for an extended amount of time.

    AMWD – I agree, hand tools usually do a better job and less clean up too. People are usually surprised at the color of the butter and ask if we dye it!

  22. Mark permalink
    March 27, 2009 10:40 am

    Great post.
    Quick question – what is the easiest way to clean your churn? Thanks

  23. March 27, 2009 9:08 pm

    Mark, hot water to rinse and then a good soapy hot water, and thoroughly rinse until all traces of any soap and soap smell are gone!

  24. May 12, 2009 9:10 am

    I love your blog, full of interesting how-tos but most of all insperational. I live in Powell River, B.C., Canada, a small isolated community with very little chance of finding a used and/or old butter churn. But..there are small farms all around me which supply fresh unpastorized milk and I want to try my hand at making butter. I would like to try making butter without spending any money on a churn until I know I’ll keep it up. Can I use just a regular electric hand mixer?



  25. Cece permalink
    August 4, 2009 8:26 am

    My dad used to tell me that you did not actually need a butter churn to make butter. Just use a jar and keep shaking. I never did that though. Moh, I have some questions about grazing. I have not been able to find the answer in your posts or in Green Pastures. Will you please email me so I can ask you? Thank you so much. Cece

  26. greenhorn permalink
    November 11, 2009 3:12 pm

    Dear MOH,

    I just absolutely love your blog. Takes me to a place I miss the most; my grandparents’ places. My Maternal Grandmother grew up on a farm in Oregon, her father from Denmark – Hansen. She always had an amazing garden and made almost everything herself, buying very little. I grew up next to a dairy in Medford. Never owned a cow or milked one but I want one. I have read half of your entire webblog, and I am determined to get a cow! I am looking for an Ayrshire. I found a small dairy that has a milking Shorthorn bred to an Ayrshire for a calf due in Sept. They said they have had trouble finding Ayrshire around here and especially Johnes free Ayrshire. Do you have any trouble with Johnes Disease in your cattle?

    thank you,

    • November 11, 2009 8:50 pm

      Greenhorn, Hansen here too! There is a Jersey dairy in Oregon City, and their name is Hansen also. Ayrshire’s are hard to find, and a little skittish too I hear – but that may be a myth. Meadowland in Gresham used to have Ayrshires and Holsteins when I was growing up – but sadly they are gone now. No dairies left in this county 😦

      The Shorthorn couldn’t be bred yet for a September calf, maybe they meant she was bred in September for a May or June calf? We haven’t had any trouble with Johne’s. See if you can get your hands on Natural Cattle Care, by Pat Coleby. According to her, Johne’s in caused by a mineral imbalance, she says copper, others say other minerals come into play too. Best of luck!

      • greenhorn permalink
        November 12, 2009 10:36 am

        Well howdee.. I wonder if we are related. My Grandmother was born in 1900, one of 6 or 7 children, Carl, Celia, Carrie, Celma, Frank and Anna. The names I know that survived infancy. My grandmother had one child when she was 44, so my Mom wasn’t too keen on learning much about her “old parents” and her grandparents died when she was small. I digress, You are correct the calf is due in June. How did you know that it could not be bred for a September? The owners used All West Select Sires and expect a heifer calf from the Cow. She gives 3-4 gallons a day, how much will the calf need? I appreciate your help. I have been reading your blog EVERY day for two months. My husband says I am due for a restraining order! 🙂 Any dairy classes in your future?

        • November 12, 2009 11:53 am

          Hard to say, the Hansen’s would be my maternal great-grandparents who died in the 20’s. They only had daughters so the name died out. My parents were much older too when I was born, like your grandmother, although they had children earlier – I was the oops 🙂 My AI guy is Hansen, and his brother has the dairy I spoke about in Oregon City. Small world.

          A cow’s gestation is 9 months, so I knew it couldn’t possibly be bred yet for a September calf. Everyone “expects” a heifer calf LOL but even with sexed semen there is a chance it may still be a bull. But, fingers crossed! To grow a good healthy calf, it should get at least 2 gallons a day. They can get by on less, but if it is a heifer, you want it to grow into a healthy, long-lived cow, and if it is a bull, you want him to be healthy because you are probably going to eat him. I’m guessing you bought the cow?

        • Greenhorn permalink
          November 13, 2009 7:37 pm

          No not yet. I am still questioning you!!:-) My line us the same as yours. Maternal great grandparents and they died in the twenties and forties. My mother born in 44 to parents who were 44 & 58. I went to Oregon City High! Small world indeed

  27. Marty permalink
    October 23, 2010 5:04 pm

    I just have a question for clarification for me,,,,a newbee to butter making. After you skim the cream you mention to let the cream “ripen” for as much as 24 hours. Could you explain this to me,,,,,what you actually do, how and why? I really appreciate it. I really enjoy your blog and all your entries. I am glad that i came across it. Thanks


    • October 23, 2010 5:25 pm

      Marty, hi – the ripening would depend on what type of flavor you like, the longer the ripening the stronger flavor which could be more like a European butter. But basically for sweet cream butter, make sure your cream is at least 24 hours old (from the cow) and then all you need to do is bring the cream to about 58F to 62F to churn. Any colder it takes longer to churn, and warmer makes it greasier and hard to work. And if you wanted to culture it, you would skim, add culture, and let that ripen for 12 – 24 hours or so in the fridge and then bring up to churning temp. Hope this helps.

  28. August 1, 2011 1:54 pm

    Hi, thanks for the informative post. We just got a little jersey cow a few months ago and I have been making butter by shaking cream in a jar. I haven’t been able to find a butter churn, but the jar method works OK. I didn’t know I could freeze butter, so I will try that we I have too much. I’m so glad I read Nourishing Traditions, so I don’t feel bad about eating our grass-fed butter at all. I enjoy your blog and I’m going to read some more about your dairy/milking posts.

  29. Tonya Ferguson permalink
    August 8, 2011 4:03 pm

    well I have a few ?’s if u don’t mind answering. We are considering a milk cow and I’m not sure about any of it. After milking you put the milk in the refrig and with in 24 hours it will make cream? Then u scrap off cream and do u place that back in the refrig untill churning time? What about milk for drinking when it makes cream do u just take it off and use the milk as regular? I know these ?’s must seem silly but I am very interested. We have 3 children, I own a bakery and that’s located at my home and would love to have fresh milk and butter for kids and cakes! Along with r fresh eggs. Thank u for ur time

    • August 9, 2011 5:04 am

      After straining the milk through a filter into your jars, you refrigerate and the cream will rise in twenty four hours. It takes a half gallon of cream to make a pound of butter, so depending on your churn or method you use to make the butter you wait to skim until you have enough cream that is at least 24 hours old before skimming. Raw milk is a fragile thing, so I don’t skim until I have enough milk in the fridge to actually churn, instead of skimming daily into a cream jar. Sooo much less chance for contamination that way. When your ready to churn bring your cream to about 58F before churning.

      For drinking we prefer whole milk, and I just stir the cream in each time before drinking. Whole fat milk from a healthy cow is good brain food for your kids. And cooking with fresh milk is a wonderful thing. And the resulting buttermilk from butter making is a nice kitchen commodity too.

  30. Tara permalink
    July 3, 2014 1:59 pm

    I have been making butter for a few years, but I was thinking, yesterday, as I was spending another inordinate amount of time squeezing every. last. drop. of water out of my butter, “is this necessary”? After washing until clear, I then go on to work the butter between my paddles. I squeeze and slap like a fiend. Then, when I think I’ve gotten all the water out, I put it in jars and work it, squeezing more and more, to get all the water droplets out. Do you do this? How in the world do I get out all of that water out without spending an hour for two jars of butter every morning?

    By the way, thank you for putting such an amazing source of information out there. We’re livestock farmers up in Canada. I always find such useful information in your posts, sometimes little gems that give us something to consider that we were blind to before. Thank you.

    • July 3, 2014 4:29 pm

      Tara, we don’t get all the water out, it could be a problem if you used butter slowly I guess, but we blow through it pretty fast once it comes out of the freezer, so definitely not a problem 🙂


  1. (not so) Urban Hennery » Blog Archive » #004:365 - Chorizo and Potato Pie

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