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Nov 18

Maker Monday: Homemade Butter Experiment

Posted on November 18, 2020 at 12:01 PM by Iredell County Public Library


This week’s Maker Monday activity is a mix of a science experiment and a workout, and it’s edible! Did you know that you can make butter at home using just a jar and heavy whipping cream? It’s going to take a little bit of time and patience, and you might want to do this with a friend. Let’s get started. 

Step 1: Get your supplies ready

All you need for this experiment is a clean jar with a lid and some heavy whipping cream. Any size jar will do. If you like salted butter, you can grab that too but don’t put it in your jar yet. 

butter 1
Step 2: Pour & SHAKE!

Fill your jar about half way full with your heavy whipping cream and start shaking. Depending on how fast you shake your jar, this whole process could take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes. If you are doing this with a group and want to make a challenge out of it, set a timer and record how long it took for each person to turn their cream into butter. 


Step 3: Check It Out

About half way through (4 to 5 minutes of shaking), you should start to feel the liquid in your jar get thicker. 

Here’s what mine looked like after 4 minutes.

Notice that it no longer looks like runny milk. It now has the consistency of whipped cream (which is exactly what this is). If you want whipped cream, stop here and add the sweetener of your choice. But since we’re not making whipped cream today, we’re going to keep shaking.
At this point, I set a timer for 2 minutes and took another peek inside.

Here’s what it looked like after 6 minutes of shaking.

butter 3
It might be a hard to tell from the picture, but it has more of a lumpy consistency and I could see a little bit of liquid starting to separate. The color also started to change from bright white to a slightly yellow. 

We’re almost done!

I set another timer for 2 minutes and shook some more. About a minute in, I could feel a big difference. The solids and liquids separated and I was left with this…

butter 4
Here you can really see the yellow butter separated from the milk. At this point, you want to strain the liquid from the solid. I poured my buttermilk into a separate jar. Then, I put a paper towel over the top of the jar with the butter in it and turned it upside down for a few minutes to get as much liquid out as I could.

Tip: Don’t throw away the liquid. That’s buttermilk and can be used in other recipes.

butter 5
butter 6

Once you separate your butter from your buttermilk, you can add your salt. I like salted butter, so I added a few pinches and shook it up a little more and it was time for the taste test.

taste test
butter 7

So, what exactly is going on here, you might ask. Heavy whipping cream has a high fat content. When you shake the heavy whipping cream, the fat molecules in the cream start to stick to each other and separate from the liquid. The more you shake, the more separation you will get from the liquid and the fat. Check out this YouTube video for more information on the science behind this experiment.

I was really shocked at how great this butter actually tasted. This would be a great way to wow your family this Thanksgiving by cooking with and serving your own homemade butter. If you tried this activity out, let us know!

If you’re interested in more information on homemade butter, check these websites out.
Link 1 | Link 2