When I was a child our family had two cows at the most and the milk we drank was raw. If you wish to explore how most of the milk in our supermarkets has been treated click here. According to my faint childhood memory our family had enough milk and money to buy a hand operated machine to separate cream and milk. Farmers of that era were inventive. Get an idea of the variation in such separaters by clicking here. Separating cream and milk was the first step in making buttermilk.
I have a clearer memory of allowing the cream to come naturally to the top of our raw milk and skimming the cream off the top. This was Aunt Lizzie’s jurisdiction. She let the cream (clabber) in a mason crock. This was when the bacteria did their work. She put the clabbered milk in a wooden churn and allowed me to turn the handle till the cream separated into butter and fat-free butter milk. I learned to like buttermilk as a child.
I don’t remember drinking butter milk, but I do remember licking it off my fingers. And I remember that Aunt Lizzie molded the butter by packing it into a box like the one pictured on the left.
I don’t believe that Rhoda learned to like buttermilk as a child as I did. She learned it by blending her life with mine. When we were road weary from traveling we often bought and shared a quart of buttermilk. It was more refreshing to us than a cup of coffee.
I don’t belittle friend Jep or cousin Carroll for not liking buttermilk. We had a little boy at our table temporarily who thought he would like everthing that I liked. He asked for a taste of my buttermilk and exclaimed “Me don’t like that stinkin stuff”. I trust no one will look up to me, or down, because I had the privilege of an Aunt Lizzie who cultured me to like buttermilk.
Aunt Lizzie was useful in our home and in the Mennonite community. She made prayer veilings, bonnets and plain dresses for the plain women of the community. Her hands were busy sewing and her feet were busy pumping the treadle on her sewing machine. Rachel still has that machine. I remember playing around it as she worked. She was 57 yrs old when I was born. She was in her 60’s when she taught me to like buttermilk. She lived to age 92.
My Joyce’s 86th birthday was on Friday, August 12, 2016 She and I celebrated by going for lunch to Kelly Jae’s in downtown Goshen. You know that Joyce Buschert is my kind of woman. One reason is that she wanted to taste something new on her birthday so she ordered and enjoyed a serving of seaweed.