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Online Collection

Interactive Activity: Butter Churn

<Tool Demonstration: Churning Butter

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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.

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