Because of a grocery shopping mix-up (I said get four containers of cream, thinking half-pints, and my dearest husband brought back four quarts of cream) I had a partially used quart of cream that needed used up. I can usually barely use up a pint.
I had already made pasta with cream sauce for supper, and cream scones, and then a little more cream sauce…I was running out of ideas. Then I remembered making butter in a jar as a child.
A quick internet search assured me that this was something easy and fun to do with kids. It seemed foolproof. Pour a small jar about half full of cream and shake it.
I poured the cream into the jar and put on some Harry Belafonte (Shake Senora) and the kids started shaking. After ten minutes or so, I opened the jar to check on the progress, and found whipped cream. Salty whipped cream, since the instructions I read said that if you wanted salted butter, to add a pinch of salt to the cream.
You saw this coming when I said “foolproof” didn’t you?
So I did some more research and found that perhaps the cream was too cold, and I would have better luck with cream that was closer to room temperature. So I filled two smaller jars halfway with the remaining cream in the quart and let them get nearly room temperature.
Cue the Harry Belafonte again. And this time, after ten or fifteen minutes of shaking, my daughter was excited to show me that her jar was actually forming a ball of light yellow butter.
Encouraged by this success, I thought maybe zapping the whipped cream in the microwave for a few seconds would render it liquid again, and warmer, so that it, too could fulfill its destiny as butter.
This was a bad idea. After a few minutes of shaking it did seem to be forming a ball, but when I opened the jar, I found it was a homogenous sort of blob, like very thick, almost plastic-y mayonnaise, not a blob of butter and some buttermilk. It also smelled a little off.
I threw the mutant butter blob out.
The other butter turned out fine. If you too want to make butter, here are some instructions. It’s pretty simple, but remember: