Making butter

My son seemed puzzled when we talked about dairy products and how cheese, cream, yoghurt and butter were all made from milk. I remembered how it's possible to make butter at home from cream and decided to give it a go when I had a recipe that used part of a pot of cream.

Cream is made from the fatty layer that floats on milk. To make butter from this, you need to agitate it. The science behind this is that when shaken, the fat molecules within the cream clump together and separate from the liquid part of the cream. 

This was a very simple activity, but I poured some double cream into a plastic box with a good seal, and put it inside a plastic bag to discourage removing the lid. I kept a little cream back to compare with what we made next. Then came the shaking - I started it, and then my son combined jumping exuberantly with shaking the cream, and after a few minutes we had whipped cream. I took a bit out, and put the lid back on.

After a few more minutes of us alternating shaking, and the little one having a go too as he felt he was missing out, it started sloshing around in the tub so we stopped and had a look. The small boy was excited to discover that he'd made butter!

Butter after shaking cream

He wanted to do a taste test to make sure it was butter, so I pressed it together with some spoons and rinsed it under cold water (otherwise it goes sour quite quickly due to the residual buttermilk). He tried a bit and then wanted to try the cream too, so I put a sample from each part of the process in a separate little bowl for him to explore the texture and taste - he had the starting double cream, whipped cream, butter and buttermilk. He noticed that the butter was yellow and the buttermilk whiter than the cream.

Tasting the butter, alongside the cream and buttermilk

Apparently this isn't enough butter on a slice of bread

He then insisted on having some bread and butter as a snack.  He also wanted to eat his butter on toast for breakfast the next morning. When he came home from preschool, he wanted yet more of his butter on bread, but sadly he wanted rather more butter than we'd actually made and this resulted in a tantrum characteristic of a tired and hungry boy... A sad end to what was otherwise a fun activity!