The Butter Churn

Making butter in the 1930s

Garra N.S. pupil 1938

typical butter churn used in Ireland in the 1930s
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Types of Churn

There are three kinds of churns – the machine churn, the barrel churn and the dash churn.  The dash is the oldest type and the commonest used around here. It consists of the churn, the dash, the lid and the joggler. The bottom of the churn we have is twenty inches in diameter and the top is fourteen inches. The churn is made of oak because if it were made of any other kind of timber, it would put an ugly taste in both the milk and butter. The churn is not all made of one piece but little lats joined together by hoops. It slopes for about twenty two inches and then there is another piece about six inches high sloping out called the “caisheen”.

How the butter is made

When the cows are milked some of the milk is put in an enamel basin to set – that is to let the cream come up on top of the milk. The cream is blown and it slides off into a crock. When there is about three gallons in it, it is thrown into the churn. The dash is put down in the churn then the lid over the dash and the joggler over the lid. There is a hole in the dash and the joggler for the dash handle to come up through. The joggler is like a wooden saucer except for the hole in the middle. My mother does the churning. It only takes about 15 minutes in summer time and about an hour in winter. When little bits of butter come up on top of the lid, they say it is broken. Then they put hot and cold water mixed called lukewarm to hurry it on.

Long ago people used to have some kind of rhymes or charm and by saying these rhymes they used to take away the butter from other people and when themselves churned they had a lot of butter. This would not happen if before churning a “splane” or coal was put under the churn and this custom has lived on to the present day. They would not let anyone go out with a coal for fear they would bring away the butter and if anybody comes in, it is the custom to get them to churn a little. If they don’t, they are asked to do so, if it is only to leave their hand on the dash.

(Taken from P. 389 Killererin – A Parish History)

This page was added on 13/03/2018.

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