Churn Milk into Butter      

Children are beginning to make connections about where their food comes from, like how milk comes from cows. This activity takes it one step further and has them learn how butter comes from milk. 

What Is Butter?

After dairy cows make the milk, we can make that milk into butter by mixing it in a special way called “churning”.  Churning causes the liquid milk to become thicker and more dense, until it becomes what we know as butter. This was traditionally done by hand, but today it’s mainly done by mixing machines in factories. Butter can be used in recipes, such as making baked goods, or can be used by itself as a spread.

What you’ll need:

Whipping cream 
Salt (optional)
Glass/Plastic Jar with a tight-fitting lid


  • Fill half of a jar with whipping cream.
  • Seal the jar tight and shake, shake, shake! (Take turns between the kids to prevent sore arms)
  • Keep shaking until the milk has turned into whipped cream (2-3 minutes).
  • Continue to shake until a solid chunk of butter has formed (2-3 minutes). During this step, you should also notice that the jar’s contents have become more liquid as the whipped cream separates into buttermilk and the solid mass of butter.
  • Remove the buttermilk from the jar and save for baking or other recipes. 
  • Knead the butter under cold water ensuring that all the buttermilk is removed to prevent rapid spoilage.
  • Enjoy the freshly homemade butter on a piece of toast or cracker! 

Change it up / Alternatives / Additional Options

  • Have them taste and describe the jar’s contents after it has transitioned from a different state (whipped cream, buttermilk, and butter).
  • Ask if they have any guesses how the milk and later the whipped cream will change when you shake the jar.
  • Add a clean marble into the jar to speed up the mixing process.
  • Sing & shake along to your favourite shaking song like Shake it Off by Taylor Swift or Shake it Up Baby by the Beatles.

Source: Sasha Williams, 3rd year UBC Dietetics student