Butter Magic, Part 1: Making Butter in a Jar

butter on muffin

Editor’s Note – Please welcome Stacie to the Cultures for Health blog.  As a cheese expert, she will be contributing content to the blog and helping to answer your cheese questions.

We’ve had a couple requests for a step-by-step butter making tutorial, and I think it’s a brilliant idea. Butter is one of the easiest home dairy recipes that you can make, and homemade butter adds another dimension of deliciousness to sourdough bread, vegetables, or breakfast.

There are, however, a few tips and tricks that will help turn you into a butter making champ. Ready? Here we go!

The simplest way to make butter is to fill a quart sized Mason jar halfway up with heavy cream. Be sure to use a metal lid…NOT plastic. The plastic lids are not liquid tight and your tasty, expensive cream could end up on your clothes instead of turning into butter.

milk to make butter

Once your jar is filled (halfway) and the lid is on nice and tight, get shaking! This is what will happen after a few minutes of vigorous shaking. See how the jar is now three quarters full? That’s why we start with halfway!


Shaking can get tiring and boring, and you’ll be here a while, so I like to put my older kids to work, rolling the jar back and forth on a clean rug, towel, or blanket.

children making butter

I should note that about five minutes after this picture was taken, my children decided that it was much more fun to chase each other with the jar, which is scarier but just as effective in butter making.

Almost there…

butter cream

And…we have butter, my friends!

butter in jar

You can culture the buttermilk with our buttermilk starter, drink it as is, or use it in baking or cooking. I love to let it sour (my cream is raw) and use it to add a little oomph to a sourdough starter.

The next step is to drain and rinse your butter, so it will stay fresh and sweet. When you are using a jar, the easiest way to do that is to pour off the buttermilk, then cover the butter in the jar with COLD water and shake again.
butter in water

Note that the water is cloudy and still has a lot of buttermilk in it. You will want to repeat this step several times, until the water runs clear. I filled and shook this jar five times.

At this point I like to add a teaspoon of sea or kosher salt, shake it until it’s combined with my butter, and rinse again. This salts my butter (the rinse prevents it from being too salty) and helps drain more buttermilk, which will make my butter last longer. Not that anything this fabulous will last very long…it’s too yummy!

butter on plate

Voila! Butter! Magic.

Next we will talk about making butter in larger quantities, and with slightly more technology.

Happy culturing!



Stacie has been making kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut and cheese for eight years. She lives with her husband, four children, parents and livestock on a small farm in Oregon. Stacie's goals for her farm include healthy pasture, delicious vegetables, self-sufficiency, happy humans, and an intact sense of humor.

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  1. Nirvana says

    Hi. Thanks for the post. How much of cream is in the jar? How long did did you shake it for before you got butter? Thanks!

  2. Carla says

    Thanks for this – never realized it was so easy. You talk about culturing the buttermilk, but how do you culture the butter? I’ve been buying cultured butter for some time and would like to try making my own.

  3. Stacey says

    If you don’t have a set of kids to roll around and round around with your jar, how long do you shake the jar?

    • StacieStacie says

      Dona, you can certainly freeze the buttermilk! Freezing will change the texture a little bit, but for cooking it doesn’t matter at all.

  4. StacieStacie says

    Hey guys! Thanks for commenting!

    The jar starts out half full, so if you’re using a quart jar, you’ll use a pint of cream. And it takes about 15 minutes of vigorous shaking to turn cream into butter.

    We have a recipe for cultured butter on the site, but my favorite way to make it is to use 1/8 of a teaspoon of Flora Danica (or any mesophilic culture) in half a gallon of cream. Allow it to set overnight, then make butter as usual. Your butter “curds” will be smaller and softer, so make sure you use a cheesecloth when draining and straining.

    Happy culturing!


  5. Elizabeth Abrams says

    Thanks for the post! Question… Can you use regular store bought cream? I have not yet crossed over to the raw milk life (soon though).

    • StacieStacie says

      Elizabeth, absolutely. Please note that if you want to culture regular store bought cream, you MUST add a culture to it. You cannot just allow it to sour as you would with raw milk. But the butter making process is the same. :-)

      Happy culturing!


  6. Donnie Johnson says

    Shoot; now I,m craving home made butter! I remember it well from my childhood. My grandparents made their own, and it sure was good on a fresh baked biscuit. And not them canned things people shove in front of you now days.

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