On our yahoo group, the question was posed by a member asking how to make butter. I thought I would share it here also.
Butter making is very easy to do. If you buy raw unpastuerized milk be sure you trust the source. If you buy from a farm, ask questions about their milking practices. Some will even offer to show you around their animals and milking area. We buy milk from a small farm. The milk we receive from them has a high cream percentage. I have bought gallon jars of milk and when the cream rose to the top it was nearly 1/3 of the jar's content.
I skim the cream off using a soup ladle, placing the cream in another container for storing until I am ready to use it for butter or whipped cream. As a preference, I always leave about 1 inch of cream on the milk to stir in and give the milk a nice creamy flavor. The cream is set aside in the refrigerator and often will separate again with a thin layer of milk under the cream.
When I am ready to make butter, the cream is skimmed off again. Save the milk leftover from this. It is buttermilk and can be used in your recipes or for drinking. Let the cream warm up to room temperature. Some recommend even allowing it to set on the counter for up to 12 hours to allow it time to "ripen" before churning.
If you do not have a butter churn, place the cream in a large jar that has enough room for the cream to expand. Start shaking the jar of cream. Depending on the cream's temperature and how hard you shake the jar, it can take 15 minutes to a half hour to make the butter. You will first see the cream thickening. The cream then starts to separate and you will see the butter separating from the water. Keep shaking, but shake much more gently. Once you see the butter forming, the hard shaking can cause it to break up too much and have the appearance of cottage cheese curds. Butter will be very thick and turn a yellow color. I most often have seen it as a single solid lump.
Transfer the butter into a bowl. Using a spatula, start pressing and folding the butter to press the water out of it. If the butter gets too soft while doing this, gently run a bit of very cold water into the bowl to chill the butter again. Continue pressing and draining out the water from the butter until no more water is present. It this point if you want salted butter, you can add a small amount. I would add no more than 1/8 teaspoon at a time until you acheive the flavor you are wanting. Never add a larger measurement as once yo have done so, you cannot reduce the salty flavor if too much salt was put in.
When your butter is made, I suggest lining a muffin pan with the paper liners or place some waxed paper on a baking sheet. Measure your butter into 1/2 cup quanty and place into the muffin liners or in mounds on the waxed paper. Place in the refrigerator to allow the butter to harden. Once it has hardened, you can then wrap the extra portions of butter in waxed paper and place in a container or large freezer bag. By having the butter in 1/2 cup portions, you will not have to measure the butter as often for your recipes since many recipes call for 1/2 cup of the butter.
If you have access to a butter churn or have a mixer with dough hooks, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to make the butter. One lady told me that her mixer with dough hooks makes butter in as little as 4 minutes when the cream is about 55*F.
Which ever way you make it, you will end up with a butter that is much better tasting than most store bought butters. If you are homeschooling your children, you can place small amounts of the cream into baby food jars for them to shake and make butter with. Kids get a lot of fun out of watching the cream become butter. Let them help make a batch of biscuits or bread to have with their fresh made butter. What a treat!