Authentic Hand Churned Butter




About: I'm a computer engineer - but please don't judge me by that. I heat with wood, fix broken things and love camping with my family. I'm a closet solar nerd, love coupons, not scared to dumpster dive and love...

I inherited a wonderful antique butter churn that came from my Great Grandmother's farm. From what I can tell it is from the early 1920's. A time when work was meaningful,conveniences were few and times were difficult. The United States just saw the end of World War 1 and was about to enter into the Great Depression. This simple kitchen device undoubtedly could tell some amazing stories - overheard through the crackle of the AM radio: triumphs and heartache, men landing on the moon and bombs landing on Pearl Harbor, the rise of freedom and the fall of the Nazi's. It is well worn, slightly crooked and repaired. Reminding us that not all things in life should be easy or disposable.

Although I am by trade a tech savvy computer engineer I have found a deep fondness of simple machinery of times past. It was to that end I decided to hand churn my first batch of butter on her churn.

It was an extremely simple process with very delicious results. I would like to share my experience

Heavy Cream
Salt (If Desired)


Step 1: Clean the Churn

Cleaning is simple with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and warm water.

Thoroughly scrub any surface that will come in contact with the butter or buttermilk including the jar, paddles, top and the pour spout. Rinse clean with water.

Vinegar will kill any bacteria while still remaining non-toxic. The same can not be said of bleach.

Step 2: Lubricate the Gears

This churn is almost 90 and the gears needed a little attention. Be sure you use a food grade lubricant. We don't want to end up with 10W-30 in our butter.

I chose coconut oil, but olive oil or vegetable oil would be fine too.

Step 3: Churn Butter

Pour in your heavy cream. Letting it sit on the counter for 30-60 min before churning will help it transition faster.
As I understand it pasteurized and not ultra pasteurized cream is preferred. Milk will not work.

Be careful not to fill your churn more than 2/3 full because it will actually fluff up a bit.

You want to turn at a fairly brisk pace.

Churn time will take 15-45 min. This batch took just over 20.

Step 4: Pour Off Buttermilk

As you crank your cream will start to look fluffy. Once this happens it will soon after separate into buttermilk and butter.

You will know it is time to stop turning when it becomes too difficult. Now is the time to pour off the buttermilk. Save it for baking or drinking.

Your churn will have a screened pour spout on the top.

Step 5: Wash the Butter

Inevitably the butter will retain some of the buttermilk. To make it last longer we need to "wash" it out. This is very simply. Transfer the butter into a bowl or container. Pour clean cold water into the bowl. Work the butter with a mixing motion using a spoon or fork. You will find the water turns cloudy. Drain and discard this dirty water. Repeat until the water in butter bowl stays clean.

Optional: Add a pinch of salt and mix in.

Step 6: Mold and Chill

I was fortunate enough to also inherit my Great Grandmother's dovetailed wooden butter mold.

Spoon butter into the mold - press on a hard surface. Discard any buttermilk that squeezes out. If you don't have a mold just spoon into a small container.

Refrigerate and enjoy!

I can now trace 5 generations that have helped make butter with this churn. This was a great experience. Dust off an antique or buy a new one. This is great if you trying to live closer to the land, be organic, homestead, experiment, go off grid, or be a foodie.

And for the record - this is absolutely delicious.

Butter Challenge

First Prize in the
Butter Challenge



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    21 Discussions


    2 years ago

    That churn is so cool.


    3 years ago


    Unfortunately I have no churn or mold to inherit. I've been looking at churns but $50 + shipping is too rich for me.

    I'll try some alternatives.

    1 reply

    I thought the coolest part was the butter churner and butter mold. Wish you had shown how to make those instead


    Namaste - and greetings from the US! Thanks for reading my instructable. I know these glass jar churns were produced for many years up to the 1950's in the US and England. I'm not sure how many made their way from England to India during that time. Here in the US the place to find the originals are at antique stores and eBay. New glass jar churns that are modeled after the old ones are for sale on and

    I am however very fascinated by the traditional Indian churns that use a pot, a rod with blades and a pull rope. The look very simple to make, but require a large working space.

    Thanks for the comments!


    4 years ago on Introduction


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I remember making butter by shaking the heck out of the cream in mason jars in kindergarten. Took forever, but I also remember it was tasty.


    4 years ago

    Haven't seen an unbroken one in years. Always good connecting with what you make. Especially the family tradition.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    For those who might not happen to have an old butter churn, you can easily make your own butter with a food processor. Lots of instructions for various butter recipes (garlic butter, honey butter, etc.) on the Interweb.

    1 reply

    I completely agree. We have made butter in our kitchen aid (quite easily) in the past. Thanks for the comment!


    4 years ago

    I make my butter on a weekly basis and depending on how I'm feeling I'll use a balloon whisk and do it by hand or an electric mixer. It's the best butter you could ever have. And I recommend to anyone who hasn't tried it to do so you won't regret it. (makes awesome cookies!) yes its a little labor intensive but so worth the while. awesome 'ible!


    4 years ago

    Nice job. I like the cleaning and lubrication portion of the instructable. Nothing is as delicious as fresh churned butter.


    I need to get one of those. unfortunately at the antique malls here they are stupid expensive. I just use a mason jar and make like Taylor Swift and shake shake shake...