icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Things To Do

Interactive Activity: Butter Churn

Tool Demonstration: Churning Butter

Wait for the file to download, then click the arrow to play the movie.


Transcript of movie: Unprocessed cow's milk contains cream. Following milking, the milk was poured into shallow pans and left overnight for the cream to rise. The following day the cream was skimmed off and placed in a churn to make butter. Using a "dasher", a woman or child whipped the cream in the churn. First it would turn to whipped cream and with continued churning the butter fat would separate from the buttermilk. The buttermilk was poured off and might be fed to the pigs. In order to keep from turning rancid, the butter needed to be rinsed or "washed" to remove any remaining buttermilk. One method used was to keep the butter in the churn and add fresh water, churn for a few minutes, and then pour off the water. More fresh water would then be added and the process would repeat, discarding the cloudy water and churning the butter with fresh water, until the liquid poured off was clear. Once washed, the butter was ready for use and might or might not be salted. This activity occurred three seasons out of the year. In summer hot weather would cause the milk to spoil before the cream could rise. Some of the butter produced in cooler seasons might be preserved by adding salt and sugar and packing it into a "firkin" (a round wooden crate) for summer use or sale. The salt and sugar would be rinsed out before the butter was used. Butter produced in spring had the best color and was the richest.

Technical Notes:
The QuickTime file format is supported by the following web browsers: Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer; Google Chrome no longer supports QuickTime. If you are experiencing difficulty and are using a compatible browser, please try updating or reactivating your plug-in file. You can do that from this page: Quicktime Download.
The Flash file format is no longer supported by some web browsers and some mobile devices.

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback