Keeping children entertained during the summer can be frustrating. Whines of “I’m bored . . . ” may drive you crazy, particularly during afternoon thunderstorms.
I previously posted about how to make homemade playdough. Another option to keep kids occupied, with the promise of a treat at the end, is homemade butter. It may sound complicated, but it isn’t!
You will need: 2 cups or so of water, 2 marbles, 1 plastic container with a tight fitting lid, and 1 pint heavy cream (non homogenized is best). Choose organic and you will have organic butter.
Wash the marbles thoroughly and dry. Put the glass marbles in the freezer and get them cold. Put the water chilling in the freezer or the refrigerator. It needs to be cold but not frozen.
Take the heavy cream or whipping cream and put in the plastic container. The container should be half full. Add the marbles, screw the lid down, and start shaking all different directions. The kids should be doing the shaking. Vary the speed and the direction, but keep it going. You’ll need about 1/2 hour of shaking to form a clump of butter with kids (you can do it in less, but it seems to take 30 minutes with kids). You can use a glass container, but the marbles can break it so with kids, plastic is usually the best option.
As you might expect, the cream will pass through stages until it makes it to butter. It is easiest to strain off buttermilk as it forms during sloshy and frothy stages, rather than straining at the end. It also means you can keep tabs on how warm the container is getting in hot little hands. If it seems like it is getting too warm, just refrigerate for a bit and then keep going. (You can set aside the buttermilk for other recipes.)
Resume shaking the jar and continue to strain any liquids that form. Whey or buttermilk that remains in the butter will break down quickly and turn the butter rancid.
The kids should see small yellow “grains” of butter forming and eventually, a lump of butter. When the lump appears, stop shaking and take the marbles out. Add 1/2 cup or so of the cold water to the container and shake gently, then drain off. Press the butter against the side of the container and run some more water. If it is clear, you are done. If not, repeat until the water runs clear. Instead of leaving the butter in the container to rinse it, you can use cheesecloth. Take the butter lump out and place in the cheesecloth. Pour some water over the butter on the cheesecloth and squeeze. Keep doing until the water runs clear. Another alternative is to take the butter out of the container, and place in a bowl. Press the butter against the side of a bowl with a spoon, but this tends to be messier than leaving the butter in the container or using cheesecloth. Whichever method, you’re done once the water runs clear.
Voila, you have homemade unsalted butter. Take it out and knead to reduce air bubbles, or press against side of bowl with a spoon. If you want to make salted, add 1/2 teaspoon salt by kneading it in. Then enjoy!