Take a turn on the butter churn

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Katelyn Juni demonstrates the process for making butter the old-fashion way. On the left is a 1800s era butter churn. To the right is a butter churn from 1940s.

NEW ULM — Through the rest of June, the Kiesling House is offering visitors a turn at churning butter.

Last week on June 16 the Kiesling House started its summer historical programing with an old-fashion butter making lesson and continue the program this weekend.

Historic reenactor Katelyn Juni said the butter making process is simple enough that it can be taught on the main floor of the Kiesling House within a few minutes.

“It’s surprisingly fast,” Juni said. “We timed it and we can churn the butter out in two minutes.”

Juni admitted she were using a modern heavy whipping cream to make the butter, which speeds up the process, but making butter in the 1800s was not an all-day activity. She said it was a choir regulated to children because was easy enough for them to complete.

Butter was created through a four-step process. First, the cream skimmed off the top of milk after it was collected. Then, the cream was shaken up or churned until it had a soft, solid consistency. The remaining buttermilk was strained off and the solid material was pressed with a paddle to remove excess buttermilk. Last, the butter was placed into a mold to harden into a desired shape. The molds were often placed in ice or cool water before the invention of refrigerators to prevent the butter from melting.

Today, few people make their own butter because it is easily available in local stores, but in frontier days it was something every household did.

Kathleen Backer, Program Director for the Kiesling House, said butter making was a simple and quick program for parents and kids to take part in while they toured the rest of the historic building.

The Kiesling House was constructed in 1861. It survived the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War and is the only wood-framed house from that era remaining in Brown County. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Backer said the Kiesling House likely outlasted other wood-framed homes because it stayed in the Kiesling family well into the 20-century and continued to have a purpose until the city found a use for it as a historic site.

The Kiesling House is still undergoing renovations that began in the spring. Backer said there is still interior painting to finish and the installation of screen doors, but none of this will interfere with programing.

Butter making will continue at the Kiesling House for the near future, but the plan is to bring in other historic actives such as shoe making and quilt work.