We have been studying the pioneer days for our homeschool social studies and reading subjects during the last few weeks. My son has been reading a book perfect for his third grade reading level, “A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840.”
It is an example of the realistic fiction genre and provides an interesting day-by-day look at how hard it was to accomplish simple homekeeping, hunting, and farming tasks in those days.
He was enamored with a recipe included in the book about how pioneer women made their own butter. It was adapted for a small quantity (no huge butter churn needed), so he was excited to do this project on his own. Here it is, adapted from the book, in case you want to try it:
Ingredients and Supplies:
1 c. whipping cream (room temperature)
Small jar with secure lid
That’s it! I didn’t even have to travel to the store to buy anything.
He poured the whipping cream into the jar, closed the lid, and shook vigorously. The cream separates into a blue-white liquid (buttermilk) and yellow clumps (the butter). It takes about 10 minutes of shaking to see the solid and liquid start to separate and another 10 minutes before it’s finished. It’s a workout!
Then, pour it all into a bowl. Next, strain off the buttermilk. Wash the butter with cold water and press it against the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Don’t use metal because it alters the taste of the butter. Keep rinsing the butter until it runs clear. Add in a little salt to taste.
Here’s what my son’s finished product looked like.
He learned how butter is made and how difficult it was generations ago to make something we take for granted when we pull it off the Publix shelf. (I did point out to him that at least he didn't have to take it from the cow milking stage. He got to start with whipping cream.)
It also helped him remember some of the other pioneer reading material in the book, as well as the time period it covered. Hands-on learning always works for my son. I don't think he is too different from most boys.