Cold and rainy days mean staying indoors. Unfortunately, that makes some of us a little stir crazy. So I'm always on the lookout for fun activities for my little ones that might just happen to also provide a little teaching along the way. Recently we made homemade butter. Stuart looked at me funny when I told him this. "You did what?" Yep, homemade butter.
I talked to Nicholas a little bit about how butter is made. I explained that basically you start with heavy cream and mix it up until it becomes butter. The cream is full of little fat globules but they are all separate and lonely. Once the mixing starts, fat globule Bob bumps into fat globule Joe and they become friends so they stick together. As more mixing happens, they bump into fat globule Mike and fat globule Tom and they all decide to stick together. The little group of friends keep bumping into more fat globules until everyone is stuck together and they have a big party. And then you have butter. Nicholas loved the story and couldn't wait to start mixing up some cream.
We do have this cool antique churn that we could have used.
But it just sits on top of our kitchen cabinets. It's gotten a bit dirty and dusty over the years and I don't really know if I could ever clean those wooden paddles enough to feel good about eating anything made with them. However, it was neat to be able to show this to Nicholas and explain how it was used in olden days.
Our project was a bit different. All we used were some clean baby food jars, a few glass marbles, heavy whipping cream, music, and manpower.
Nicholas started with filling the jars about 3/4 full of cream.
He added two marbles to help with mixing and put the lid on. I double checked to make sure that the lid was on REALLY tight. Then we put on some fun music and we danced around while we shaking the jars. It doesn't really matter how you shake them or how hard you shake them but you need to keep them moving.
It's best to do this with two people so you can trade off and let your arm rest. After 5 minutes, he had a nice whipped topping.
Then around 10 minutes, we could hear a more distinct "thud" sound as a ball of butter was now shaking around in the jar. There was still a lot of liquid that we drained off but in the end we had real butter. It tasted fine right out of the jar but we added a pinch of salt just to make it better.
It was yummy on crackers for an after school snack. Nicholas suggested that we should have repeated our homemade cracker project so we could have had homemade butter AND homemade crackers. Great idea but I recall that I wasn't too impressed with our homemade crackers. I think I'll stick with store bought crackers but the homemade butter is a winner.