Butter than store-bought: Your guide to homemade butter

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June being National Dairy Month conjures up all of the delicious foods that we enjoy that fall into the dairy category: cheese, ice cream, whipped cream, cream cheese. The list is extensive – but one of the mainstays in everyone’s kitchen is butter.

Butter has an interesting and varied history over the last several thousand years. Though it would scarcely resemble the store-bought butter most of us know today, author Elaine Khosrova wrote that butter appeared shortly after the domestication of animals – derived from the milk of livestock like yak, sheep and goats.

“And while archaeologists have unearthed a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet depicting early butter-making, it’s not clear precisely how our ancestors shifted from ‘accidental discovery’ to purposeful manufacturing.” Khosrova noted that after trial and error, early civilizations probably realized that if they removed the milk pouch “off the back of animal and hung [it] like a cradle from a tree limb,” it could be deliberately “agitated” into sumptuous golden kernels.

According to Khosrova, isolated communities in North Africa and the Middle East still make their butter in this way. (Learn more at npr.org.)

Butter-making eventually found its way to the New World via the Jamestown colonists in 1607 (newenglanddairy.com). Butter production would be largely farm-based until the advent of the cream separator in the late 19th century, when production shifted to a factory model. And the rest, as they say, is history (Britannica.com).

Though it has had a love/hate relationship with the American public in the 21st century, due to shifts in perceptions of what is “healthy,” butter is here to stay. According to the National Milk Producers Federation, the average American consumes 6.3 pounds (or roughly 25 sticks) of butter annually (foodinstitute.com).

Looking to make your own butter at home? Check out this simple recipe, courtesy of the Food Network! Enjoy it plain, with jam or jelly – or throw in your favorite herb and seasoning combinations for a shot of unique, personalized flavor!

This is a perfect time to try it out as well, with store prices for butter still near record highs. If you make something particularly tasty or appealing, let us know! Send a picture through our Facebook or Instagram accounts.

by Andy Haman

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