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The Early Days of Dairy

Esther Sender

Would you have had the faintest idea of how to change milk into butter, cheese, or yogurt? While you’re sitting in your house eating “simple” toast and butter, or maybe a slice of cheese or a yogurt, think about how different life used to be only 100 years ago.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

cowsIt’s My Churn!

Today butter is available in every supermarket. But butter making was very different, not so long ago, back when one had to actually churn one’s own butter. That stick of butter on your table could have taken your great-grandmother a few hours to make.

The woman of the house would go out into her yard where her churn was; a tall, wooden barrel-like contraption with a pole sticking out of a hole in the top. She would pour approximately a gallon of milk inside the churn, or just the cream of the milk, if she had enough.

She would then begin to churn the milk into butter by raising and lowering this pole into the barrel, over and over and over again. (Churn is an interesting word; it’s both the barrel-and-pole combination itself, as well as the action of making milk into butter.) After at least two hours, a mass of something resembling butter would form.

She would then take out the mass, squeeze out remaining liquids, and rinse the whole thing in cold water — after, of course, she drew it from the well. 

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