Tuesday, January 18, 2011

yellow butter

In the winter the cream was not yellow as it was in summer, and butter churned from it was white and not so pretty. Ma liked everything on her table to be pretty, so in the wintertime she colored the butter.

After she had put the cream in the tall crockery churn and set it near the stove to warm, she washed and scraped a long orange-colored carrot. Then she grated it on the bottom of the old leaky tin pan that Pa had punched full of nail-holes for her.

She put this [carrot] in a little pan of milk on the stove and when the milk was hot she poured milk and carrot into a cloth bag. Then she squeezed the bright yellow milk into the churn, where it colored all the cream. Now the butter would be yellow.

We've been reading through Little House in the Big Woods together as a family over the last several evenings, and when we read about coloring the butter, of course the kids wanted to try! We've made butter several times in the past, but we always just let it be whatever light yellow color it turned out to be. This time, we grated our carrot.

We warmed it and some whole milk until it bubbled gently for a few minutes.

Then we strained the carrot bits out of the milk until we had orange milk. At this point, the kids and I were all wondering how orange milk was going to make yellow butter. (I was already prepared to have orang-y butter and explain how the carrots were likely not the same heritage variety that Laura and Mary ate.)

But we poured the milk and our cream into a quart jar.

And we began the shaking.

Look at all the effort in that shaking!

Finally, the butter began separating from the buttermilk (which we saved for coffeecake in the morning).

And we ended up with yellow butter! What an awesome experience to make butter the way that Laura and Mary made it with Ma, less the tin pan, woodstove, and wooden butter churn, of course.

We also made some delicious Pumpkin Yeast Rolls to enjoy with our fresh yellow butter.


  1. What a wonderful project. I will have to remember this one. My father used to talk about how his parents used to sell the butter they made at home and then go to the store and buy margarine. How silly is that?

  2. how cool! zach would love to do this! every time we read a book from the little house series he wants to do things "like old timey days". did it impact the taste at all?

  3. We used to do that when were little! (but, like you never tried to chanege the colour) - must give this a try with my girls (how did your kids go with all the work??)

  4. Prarie-life, NC style! I love this idea-- I still remember making butter at around their age, and how much my arms HURT! Yummy!

  5. that is amazing!
    what a wonderful recipe from such a great book!

  6. How neat, the carrot worked so well. My girls really, really want to live "just like Laura."

  7. The Little House books are favorites here. I knew the passage as soon as I began reading. How much fun to color the butter just like Laura! And the pumpkin rolls look delicious.

    Blessings, Elizabeth


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