Historical information

A butter churn is a device used to convert cream into butter. This is done through a mechanical process, via a crank used to manually turn a rotating device inside the barrel shaped churn. The agitation of the cream, caused by the mechanical motion of the device, disrupts the milk fat. The membranes that surround the fats are broken down, subsequently forming clumps known as butter grains. These butter grains, during the process of churning, fuse with each other and form larger fat globules. Air bubbles are introduced into these fat globules via the continued mechanical action of the churn. The butter grains become more dense as fat globules attach to them while the air is forced out of the mixture. This process creates a liquid known as buttermilk. With constant churning, the fat globules eventually form solid butter and separate from the buttermilk. The buttermilk is then drained off and the butter is squeezed to eliminate excess liquid and to form it into a solid mass. Then rinsing could be done simply by washing in water, followed by draining, salting and working or "kneading" the butter with a pair of wooden butter pats, or with bare hands. This is a paddle churn, a barrel that contains a paddle, which is operated by a handle. The paddle churned the butter inside the container when the handle was turned. Early settlers had to be self sufficient, growing their own vegetables, making tools and clothing and usually had a house cow to produce their milk supply


This domestic butter churn is an example of the skill of the pioneer craftsman, carpenters and tool makers c1900. As pioneers and early settlers had to be self sufficient they usually kept a dairy cow or 'house cow' to provide milk for drinking and for butter and cheese to made by the family.

Physical description

A small wooden, domestic butter churn with a lid and a crank that manually rotated the paddle inside.

Inscriptions & markings