Saturday, March 10, 2007

Butter and Science

We may be the only HE family not to have tried this yet but… today we made butter!

We talked through the science behind it; first, how cows make milk, the fact that it takes 7-8kg of grass to make one litre of milk etc. I found a great site from New Zealand with lots of facts and games on it all about milk.

I then explained how butter consists of butterfat surrounding minuscule droplets made mostly of water and milk proteins. These droplets are surrounded by a membrane made of phospholipids (fatty acid emulsifiers) and proteins, which prevent the fat in milk from pooling together into a single mass.

I asked them how they thought that the fat could be brought together all into one place, and both Joshua and Samuel guessed straight away that you needed to break the membranes up. So, this is how butter is made, by shaking cream, to break the membranes and allows the milk fats to join, leaving the rest of the parts of the cream behind – eg the buttermilk which is the water and milk proteins.

We talked about how slightly different methods can make for different end results, and depends also on how much fat was in the milk/cream to start (which can vary from animal, breed etc). We also brainstormed all the different things you could add to the butter at the end to flavour it. The range of suggestions included Tia Maria (from Roarke), Marmite (William), marmalade (Samuel) and garlic (Joshua).

Then we actually did it! Putting the double cream into the clean jam jar, we all took turns at shaking it. Roarke shook it so hard it turned to v.thick cream almost straight away and we had to add some water to slacken it off again!

As predicted, after about 10 minutes we could hear a lump sloshing around in the jar, and 3 minutes later suddenly the liquid cleared, and turned thin, and we could see the lump of butter inside.

We drained the buttermilk, and kept it for breadmaking, then rinsed the butter a few times in cold water. We each tasted some, and agreed it needed a light salting to taste like “real” butter (!). We then put it into the fridge to use later.

After that, we all packed up and went off to Essex to visit some old friends. The guy was one of the ushers at our wedding, and dh first met him when he (the friend) was 15. Now he’s 30, married, with a 9 month old! Talk about make you feel old!

We hadn’t seen them for nearly 2 years so it was good to catch up. We got out to a local park that had lots of cool stuff for the boys to play on, and we talked almost exclusively about HE and about Aspergers and the way that it affects SJ, and the rest of the family.

Baby Jonathan was quite quiet today, and back to laying transverse, so that helped make the car journey more comfortable! (by the way, Amanda, he's due 5th June!)

Looking forward to a quiet evening, and hoping to get the boys to bed early now.


Lin said...

Tia Maria flavoured butter. Mmmmmmm, now there's a thought! ;-)

Anonymous said...

We haven't done the butter making yet, I thought about it today but only had single cream....
Oh a summer baby, how wonderful!!