Tonight I tried to make some butter from some raw cows milk. I followed the instructions here, and let the cream I skimmed off a gallon of milk sit for about 24 hours to "culture." It didn't really smell "slightly sour" yet, but as I had already gone twice the prescribed time, I decided to move on anyway. I divided the cream between two quart jars, and shook them for about 20 minutes each, as described, and although solid clumps formed in each jar, there was no yellow tint.

So I transferred the contents of each jar into a mixing bowl, and used an electric mixer, per the instructions here, but it made no real difference, except to move the stuff around, so I finished off the batch by straining the butter milk from the solids, rinsing the butter under cool water, and adding a little salt.

The final result looks like this:


In the silver bowl is the finished "butter", in the bowl to the right, the strained off buttermilk, and I'm holding a stick of store-bought butter (Ingredients: Cream, Natural Colors) for color comparison.

This "butter" tastes okay, but doesn't have much of a buttery flavor. It is is also the whitest "butter" I have ever seen. But is it really butter, or did I make something else? To get "normal" yellow butter that tastes butterier, what should I do differently?

  • Just curious, what is the room temperature of where you were "culturing" the skimmed cream? That will affect the culturing process of the cream.
    – Jay
    Mar 5, 2012 at 4:03
  • @Jay: The house thermostat is set to 68°F (20°C), and I set the culturing cream on top of my refrigerator where it's a little bit warmer. So maybe 72-75°F (22-24°C)?
    – Flimzy
    Mar 5, 2012 at 4:07
  • 7
    Notice your ingredient list for your store-bought butter has "natural colors" in it. That means added coloring, it otherwise would not be so yellow. The color, I believe, depends on the cow's diet (but, commercially, they just add color to make it look "right").
    – derobert
    Mar 5, 2012 at 6:47
  • 3
    It is normal for handmade butter to be white; my great-grandfather's butter was always white. But it was harder than your picture, its texture was more similar to lard. I think you didn't separate well enough, and left more water in than usual.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 5, 2012 at 12:04
  • @derobert: Right, that's why I included the ingredient list... because I knew that might be the only reason my butter was a different color.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 5, 2012 at 19:34

5 Answers 5


It's not hard: First milk cow :-), then let the milk settle in the fridge for a day or two. Skim the cream off the top

Use a food processor, or hand shake in a cocktail mixer or similar sized jar (only about a 100 ml at a time)

First you get whipped cream (2 to 5 minutes), then another minute of shaking and suddenly butter appears

It should separate very cleanly, with watery whey (save for soft cheese making), and lots of rough yellowish fat globules. If it still looks smooth it needs more shaking

enter image description here

If you want to keep the butter for any length of time you will need to wash it a few times with clean water, and squeeze the water out of it after each wash

The colour you get depends on what your cows have been eating. It can be quite white

There is no need for heating, or any other additives

  • 1
    It sounds like I did everything exactly right then... I just got white butter. If that's just the result of the cow's diet, then I won't worry about it. Thanks for the info!
    – Flimzy
    Mar 5, 2012 at 4:36
  • How safe is that without heating / pasteurization? Mar 6, 2012 at 12:45
  • @baffledCook if you are culturing the butter, it is as safe as making your own yogurt.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 7, 2012 at 16:54

Your butter is probably white because the cow was feed on corn, grass fed cows produce yellow butter. It's also probably why it doesn't taste of very much as the quality of butter is very closely tied to the cow's diet.

  • The farmer says they feed their cows mostly grass (and I saw them grazing), and "some grain" during the winter. So they may eat some corn, but not purely corn. Thanks for the info, though...
    – Flimzy
    Mar 9, 2012 at 6:04
  • Might be down to the type of grass then, here in Ireland the grass we have is rich in betacarotene which means all our butter is bright yellow.
    – Stefano
    Mar 11, 2012 at 23:29

If you'd like naturally yellow butter, add a little turmeric to the cream. A little goes a long way and I find that just little doesn't change the flavor too much.


First ...Yellow Butter you get in stores is that colour because they add yellow to it.

Second ...butter intensity that you normally associate with it is really the salt they add to it. Buy yourself some unsalted butter and do a taste test to see the difference.

Pure cow milk fat is mild in flavour and colour varies; both items are factors of what feed the animal was eating before being milked.

To make butter follow TFD's post. That's it in a nutshell.


My family has had dairy cows for generations. It mostly depends upon the breed of cow whose milk you are using. The cows we mostly picture for milking (the black and white ones) are Holsteins and produce LOTS of milk but lower fat level. A Jersey (smaller brown very pretty cows) produce less milk but LOTS of butterfat. When you set up Jersey milk the cream will be super yellow and almost a solid when you skim it. The resulting butter is bright yellow and churns easily. It is hard. There are other cow breeds that are in between those two extremes.

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