E.T. A LOCAL WAY OF LEARNING
Title: MAKING BUTTER
Author: Ruth Emerly, Eulalie R. Rivera Elementary School
Grade Level: K-3
6. Natural Resources 1. Social Studies
The student shall see the formation of butter as the result of agitating cream.
Today's child is likely to think that fish comes in cans, sugar in packages and oranges in a cellophane bag--
which they do, in a supermarket! At one time, in the Virgin Islands, butter was made in small amounts since
there was no means of keeping, it without ice or refrigeration.
Four small jars with lids, glass (or plastic preferred) but transparent. Baby food jars work nicely.
One half-pint heavy whipping cream, cold.
Some crackers to sample the butter when it comes.
Transfer the half-pint of whipping cream evenly into four small jars. Tighten the lids and shake the jars.
Pass the jars around the class giving all who wish a chance to shake the jars. After about 10-15 minutes
depending upon the temperature, the vigor with which the jars shaken etc., you will see the yellow butter
separate from the buttermilk. You can open the jars and look at the butter specks more closely. Close the lid
and continue to shake the jar until the specks adhere to make chunks. Pour off the buttermilk and wash the
butter by swishing cold water around in the jar. You can then butter some crackers and enjoy.
If you can get fresh milk from a dairy farm, more realism can be had by letting the milk stand out overnight
with a cloth over the bowl to keep out insects. In the morning the milk should be curds with a layer of cream
over the top. The cream is skimmed and the procedure followed as for whipping cream.
The problem with churning butter in the subtropics is keeping the cream cool enough so that the butter forms
in the solid phase rather than melted.
A report from St. John describes a small boy, in days gone by, sitting and holding the jar by the lid and
hitting it against his thigh. This would probably help keep the temperature low as opposed to holding the jar
in your warm hands.