Wondering who actually thought to “churn” butter from milk, I came across the probable story of how butter was invented. Rumor has it a nomad made the first batch by accident. After tying a sheepskin bag of milk to his horse and jostling it with a day of riding, he noticed the transformation. Churned milk fat solidifies into something wonderful.
By the Middle Ages, Europeans were hooked on this delicious accompaniment to their daily bread. It was popular among peasants as a cheap source of nourishment and prized by nobility for the richness it added to cooked meats and vegetables. Until the 1600s, butter-eating was banned during Lent. However, butter proved so necessary to cooking that the wealthy often paid the Church a hefty tithe for permission to eat the fat during the month of self-denial. Demand for this perk was so high that in Rouen, in northwestern France, the Cathedral’s Tour de Beurre — or Butter Tower — was financed and built with such tithes.
In Ireland, butter was so important to the economy that merchants opened a Butter Exchange in Cork to help regulate the trade. Today, barrels of ancient Irish butter, traditionally buried in bogs for aging, are among the most common archeological finds in the Emerald Isle.
Every pioneer woman with a milk cow in the barn, had a butter churn, or at a very least a mason jar with a tight lid, in order to put butter on her table.
|Dog powered butter churn|
What the cow eats influences the color of the butter. In winter with the absence of greens for the cattle, butter would often be white, while springtime butter was more likely to be shades of yellow. Remember in Little House in the Big Woods, Ma wanted her butter to be pretty so she boiled a grated carrot with a little milk, turning it bright orange, then added this strained milk to her butter churn. It not only made the butter yellow, but provided a treat for Mary and Laura who loved to eat the milky pieces of boiled carrot strained from the pot.
Scribbling in notebooks has been a habit of Cindy Regnier since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Born and raised in Kansas, she writes stories of historical Kansas, especially the Flint Hills area where she spent much of her childhood. Cindy is married to her husband of 37 years, has two grown sons, a son residing in heaven, and two beautiful daughters-in-law.
Thanks for the post! I'm not surprised butter has been prized through the ages. Great stuff...ReplyDelete
Your commentary makes butter churning sound fun! Well done!ReplyDelete
Thanks! I bet it was fun until you'd done it too many times.Delete
Right? Thanks Connie.ReplyDelete
Hi Cindy! I'm a preschool teacher and at Thanksgiving time our classroom made homemade butter using the recipe in glass baby food jars. We were careful with the glass and when the butter was "done" we refrigerated it in the fridge overnight, then enjoyed it the next day or two on the cook's homemade rolls for our Thanksgiving family dinner! The children were amazed at what we had made and the parents were impressed!ReplyDelete
So cool, Karen. Thanks for sharing that story and for making a history lesson so fun and interesting. I'll bet the preschoolers think you're awesome!ReplyDelete
Oh yes, those kiddos love anything different to do besides the same ole thing! I enjoy making messes (small ones) with them...such fun!Delete
Hi Cindy! My kids and grandkids used the method that Karen mentioned above (with the baby food jars) to make butter, and my mother and aunts used a churn. But I didn't know much about the history of butter. Thanks for such an interesting post!ReplyDelete
Hi Laura! Thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear kids are still doing this. We can't let churning become a lost art!.ReplyDelete
Interesting post on butter, Cindy. I’ve made butter by shaking canning jars of cream before, but I would love to make butter in a real churn to see how long it takes to set up. Thanks for your post! Now I’m craving butter on homemade biscuits. Yum!ReplyDelete
Hi Sherida! Nothing like butter on a hot biscuit! Thanks for stopping by!ReplyDelete