How to Make Butter

There is nothing like a piece of fresh-baked bread and some homemade butter: smooth, creamy and so very tasty.  We have several milking goats on our homestead, and we use our daily supply to make a variety of dairy products.  Cheese, yogurt, and butter are just a few of the ways we use our goat milk to supply us with nourishing and delicious food. 

Today it is time to make butter. We tend to buy very little butter real butter, that is but try to keep a pound or two on hand in case we run out.  Butter is a product that stores in the freezer really well.

Before we get ahead of ourselves and jump right into how to make butter, let's first talk about what butter is.  Butter can be classified as the third stage of milk separation.  Whole milk is separated into skim milk and cream, and then the cream is separated into buttermilk and butter fat solids (curd), which is butter. Keep in mind that the buttermilk from butter making is not the same as store-bought "cultured" buttermilk. 

So really, butter can be made from any type of cream, be it cow, goat, sheep, or yak.  As long as it has butterfat, you can make it into butter.  Goat milk is naturally partially homogenized, which makes it harder to separate compared to cow milk, but it does rise to the top of the jar in such a way that it can be skimmed. We have found that a gravy ladle is the most effective tool for skimming. It is better for taking just the cream and not as much milk.

Since we don't get much cream from each half-gallon jar of milk, we keep it frozen in pint jars until we have enough to make butter. Then we thaw out 2 pints when ready to make a batch of butter.

We put the cream into a half-gallon jar and rock it back and forth until the separation occurs between the buttermilk and the butter curd. The back-and-forth shaking of the jar is another way of churning butter.  Some folks use a stand mixer to do the churning process.  But let's keep things simple and low-tech.

Sometimes this doesn't seem to take long, and sometimes it seems it will never make butter. We haven't timed it to see how long it actually takes. It works better if the cream is refrigerator temperature, so if it thaws out and I am not ready yet, I will put it back in the fridge. One of the nice things about making butter in a jar is that I can do it from the comfort of my recliner while using my laptop!

When the butter forms, there is a definite 'thunk' that is added to the rocking sound. I used to stop at this point, but I have found that the butter is easier to work if I shake it a little longer to make sure it has all come together into one mass.

Then I pour off as much of the buttermilk as possible into an old peanut butter jar for the chickens or dog. It can also be saved to use for breadmaking or other baking.

Here is the butter, fresh from the churning jar.

Unlike butter made from cow milk, goat butter is pure white.  This is because goats are better at utilizing beta-carotene, which the precursor of vitamin A.  The vitamin A in cow milk and butter is primarily in the form of beta-carotene, which gives a yellowish color to the milk and butter.  The vitamin A in goat milk is present as the vitamin form, rather than beta-carotene. 

I don't know if there is a more efficient way to wash butter, but this method has worked well for me. I run a small stream of water down the cutting board and work the butter with a rubber spatula over and over until the water runs clear instead of cloudy. This time, though, I am trying out a new butter paddle that I got on sale from Lehman's. It will take some getting used to, but it works just fine.


I turn off the water and continue to work the water out. When I am satisfied with getting all the water out, I add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, more or less. It depends on how much butter I have. 

I work that in well, then scoop the butter into a small loaf pan lined with plastic wrap to shape it as it cools. This fits into our butter dish well.


I don't make very big batches of butter, as it tends to go bad since we don't use a whole lot. It does not last as long as store-bought. The two pints of cream make about the right size. I have made more in the past and put half of the batch in the freezer until we need it, but I like the smaller batches better. They are easier to work and faster to churn.

As you can see, the final product of our effort looks great.  It is a simple process to make butter, and you can use fresh raw local cream or even store-bought cream to make your own butter at home.  And remember, it tastes great on fresh homemade bread!  But that is for another post.

~ Frank & Fern


Frank & Fern are a husband and wife team living the homesteading life in southeastern Oklahoma. They have goats, chickens, dogs, cats, and vegetables. More of their adventures can be read at:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Interesting article. I make butter from cow's cream but it's almost the same process that I use. I had a lot of trouble getting all the buttermilk out and haven't figured out how to use those grooved paddles properly. What I do, at the moment, is make about half the amount (about 500-600 mls) in a wide mouthed 1.1 litre jar. After the butter has formed, I drain off the buttermilk (I usually use that for soaking oatmeal overnight for morning breakfast), squeezing the butter with a flat paddle against the sides of the jar to get as much buttermilk out as I can. Then I fill up the jar with cold water and continue working the butter around the jar, under water, squeezing and jabbing. Periodically, I pour off the cloudy water and refill, until the water is almost clear. Finally, I continue squeezing around the jar to get almost all of the water out before I mix in some salt and then turn it out onto a plate to pat into shape. I put the plate in the fridge to get it hard before wrapping it in baking paper or an old, washed, butter wrap.
I've found that it takes over 10 minutes, sometimes 20, to get the butter to turn, while shaking the jar. However, if I leave the cream out for one or two days, to culture, the butter forms in about a minute! Fantastic. Actually, I usually kefir the cream to help culturing, though I have tried just leaving it, too. The butter tastes good, though it is a slightly different taste to uncultured butter. The buttermilk is cultured too, of course.

I had thought that one needs a centrifuge, of some sort, to get the cream out of goats milk, so it's good to know that some cream will separate out naturally, as we are considering keeping goats.

We live near Billing farms in Vermont.  The farm is open to the public for demonstrations of old time farming activities. In their butter making demonstrations, they say that they have tried all the different methods of butter making and now only buy a hand turned agitator and paddles  from tthe Lehman company in Ohio. They claim it's expensive, but very worth the money. The butter is made quickly and easily by the audience taking turns. 
To wash the butter, they turn out the butter into a wood bowl, the shape of a shallow boat,  about 18 inches long. After pouring water over the butter, they press two paddles, starting from the center and pushing toward the narrow ends of the bowl. They pour the waste water, which they feed to the chickens, into a jar, and rinse twice more. Seems like a very simple process and minimal clean-up. I will ask the next time I am there for the source of the bowl.





Thank you for the information about rinsing the butter in the jar. We had not heard of that technique and it sounds like a good way to do it.We did not know that you could culture the cream. That would be a good way to make butter if there wasn't access to refrigeration.
We originally thought we needed a centrifuge to separate the cream in goat's milk, so we bought one and tried it. It takes four gallons of milk, heated, then separated. It is a chore to clean the machine, we were surprised with how little cream we got and we didn't like the taste of the milk afterward. The machine is now in storage and we skim the cream by hand, leaving the milk still tasting very good afterwards.
Thank you again. We enjoy learning different ways of doing things from others.
Frank and Fern

No problem. I forgot to mention that I've sometimes tried to finish off with the grooved paddles (not sure if there is a proper name for them - "pats" perhaps?) but am not too good yet and it seems to take a long time squeezing small amounts of butter, as I work through the whole amount. Squeezing in the jar seems to get most of the liquid out, which is pretty much just water by that time, so it's not a big deal if some is left in.