The usual position of the Stone Churn, was always on the hearth, just to the right of the open Fireplace. The natural warmth of the fire, slowly soured the whole milk that would later be agitated by an up and down motion of a ‘dasher.’
The dasher was nothing more than an ” X ” of wood mounted on the end of a dowel rod that extended through a hole in the removable top of the Churn.
When the milk had soured, it thickened and formed a substance that was commonly called Clabber. Around this substance was a thin liquid that was referred to as Whey. If the Clabber was removed from the Whey and broken up, it resembled present-day Cottage Cheese; and the taste is much the same. Many people enjoy eating Clabber and it contains almost as much nourishment as the whole milk.
A famous Nursery Rhyme makes reference to Clabber. You remember Little Miss Muffett, don’t you? She sat on her Tuffett (?), and ate her Curds and Whey, or “Clabber.”
If the Clabber was left intact, the churning process began by working the dowel rod up and down and continually stirring the Curds and Whey until lumps of yellow substance floated to the surface. These lumps were removed when the churning was complete by means of a wooden paddle; salted and packed into a mold and left to harden. This delicacy is Butter, calories and all.
The by-product from the churning process was by no means the least of the treats that resulted from this rather unique operation. After the Butter was removed, the mixture that was left in the churn had somewhat thickened. It was certainly not thrown out; but was prized as a companion to a snack or even a meal of Cornbread and was heralded as Buttermilk. Chilled and served at tables in the finest homes, Buttermilk was, and still is, considered a staple for many.
From start to finish, nothing was wasted in the ‘Making of Butter’ or “Churning.” It was an operation that required little enough energy in order to produce so much in the way of subsistence for the average family. Churning usually was done when the other more important chores were completed. Sitting by the Fireplace and listening to the radio or reading, with the only sounds being the crackling of the fire and the thump-thump of the dasher, as a very important procedure was initiated.
The conversion of Whole Milk into first, Clabber; then to Butter; and finally, the mouth watering taste of a product synonymous with a “PONE of Cornbread.”
A delicious glass of “BUTTERMILK!”
WARNING: Some folks have become addicted to the tantalizing taste of “Buttermilk;” and have been known to create Butter illegally, in order to satisfy their “BUTTERMILK – FIX!” Dj.