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Making Your Own Butter

Do you know how pioneers made butter?

  • First, pioneers collected cream from milk.
  • Then they left the cream until it soured because the butter would not separate easily from fresh cream, and sour cream made tastier butter.
  • They poured the cream into a butter churn and usually children were given the chore of pounding the dasher up and down. Separating the butter from the `butter milk' was not a fast process. To keep the rhythm and to make the time pass more quickly, they used to sing:

Come butter, come

Come butter, come

Peter’s standing at the gate

Waiting for a butter cake

Come butter, come

Black Creek Butter

  • After separating the butter from the buttermilk, the buttermilk was drained off and saved for baking or fed to the pigs.
  • The butter was put into a bowl and rinsed thoroughly with several changes of cold water. If all the buttermilk was not washed out, the butter would quickly turn bad.
  • Finally salt was added, and the butter was pressed into a crock and stored in a cool place.

Let’s try to make butter the way the pioneers did using a glass jar instead of a butter churn. Shaking the jar serves the same function as dashing the paddle up and down in the wooden churn: it breaks the protein casing around the fat globules and makes the clusters of fat globules stick together.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of whipping cream at room temperature (The butter will not separate from the cream if it is too hot or too cold.)
  • A small jar with a secure lid
  • A bowl
  • A wooden spoon (metal spoils the taste of the butter)
  • Water

1. Pour the whipping cream into the jar.
2. Screw the lid on and shake the jar strongly. After about ten minutes, your cream will be separated into a bluish-white liquid (buttermilk) and pale yellow clumps of fat (butter).
3. Spoon the butter into a bowl.
4. Wash the butter with cold water.
5. Press the butter against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon, and rinse with water until the water is clear.
6. Add a little salt and taste it!

Making a Punched Tin Picture

Tin plate was light weight and could be formed easily into mugs, lanterns, cookie cutters and other house wares. It was a great improvement over heavy wooden ware and drab pewter. Because of its shiny surface, tin plate was called “poor man’s silver.” Punched-hole designs were used to decorate tin ware, especially lanterns. The holes let the light from a candle inside shine through.

  Tin Smith Tin Lantern

Here is a simple way to turn an aluminum pie plate into a shiny wall hanging using the same kind of tin-punching technique.

You will need:

  • Paper
  • A pencil
  • Tape
  • An aluminum foil pie plate
  • Heavy cardboard
  • A nail and hammer

1. Draw a simple design on the paper that fits into the bottom of the plate. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Tin House PatternTin Sun PatternTin Star Pattern

(Click one of the pictures if you want to try these printable patterns.)
2. Tape the paper to the bottom of the pie plate.
3. Place the cardboard on the tabletop to protect the surface as you hammer. Gently hammer the nail in at even intervals along the lines of the design.
4. To hang, punch a hole in the top of the rim.

Jumping Jack

The jumping jack, featuring moving arms and legs, often hand-carved in the evening around the fire was one of the few playthings in pioneer homes. Have fun with your own jumping jack as pioneer children did!


You’ll need:
  • Tracing paper
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Heavy cardboard
  • Makers or crayons
  • A nail or skewer
  • 8 brass paper fasteners
  • String (about 2 feet)    
Jumping Jack


1. Draw the body parts on the cardboard you see above.(If you want to use the printable pattern, click the picture, print it and glue the printed pattern on the cardboard)
2. Colour in clothing and a face.
3. Cut out the cardboard pieces.
4. Use a nail or skewer to punch holes in the places shown by the black dots.
5. Use the paper fasteners to fasten the arms and legs to the body.
6. Cut one piece of string long enough to make a loop.
7. Thread it through the top of the head and knot it.
8. Cut two more pieces of string.
9. Tie one to the fasteners at the shoulders.
10. Tie the second piece to the fasteners at the hips.
11. Tie another piece of string to the shoulder and hip strings. Let the tail of the string hang free.

Jump Jack Jump Jack

To play the jumping jack, hold it by the loop on the head and pull the hanging string. The arms and legs will jump and flex.