Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How To Use Wooden Butter Molds

Many visitors coming to the site are fascinated by the process of making butter. Most have never seen it done or given it much thought before seeing our docents demonstrate the process. Another aspect of making butter that intrigues visitors is using butter molds. Here is a simple lesson on how to mold butter with a wooden mold.

Here are two wooden butter molds we have in our 1820 kitchen. The large round mold has a decorative strawberry pattern carved into the top of the mold plunger. The smaller rectangular mold is a basic 1/2 lb mold (give or take an ounce).

Inside view of both butter molds.
Since both molds are made of wood it is important to condition them properly before using them. This step requires a good oil coating for the molds. The oil will condition the wood, provides a layer of protection when soaked in water (next step) and will help release the butter from the mold (last step). I use olive oil to coat our molds because it is what we have at the house but I've seen references where mineral oil is used. Try to get good coverage over the entire surface of the mold; inside and out. Take the plunger out of the mold and oil it too.

Once you've thoroughly oiled the molds, soak them in ice water for 30 minutes. Some people will follow a good ice soak with 30 minutes in the refrigerator (we don't). This step will help to keep the butter from sticking when it's time to release it from the mold (last step).
The strawberry mold is ready to fill with butter.

Filling the strawberry mold.

Remove mold from the ice bath and fill with butter. Once filled, level-off the bottom.

Level off the bottom.

Filling the 1/2 lb mold.

1/2 lb mold leveled off.
Now its time to chill the filled molds for 1-2 hours. The butter will harden making it easier to release it from the mold. 

When the molds are good and cold run the tip of a small knife around the edge of the mold; between the butter and mold. Push the plunger down (or up, depending on how you are holding the mold), releasing the body of the molded butter. The butter will still be attached to the plunger but some gentle persuasion will release it. Try using the tip of your knife to go around the outside edges or simply use your hand to 'pop' it off the plunger. 

Plunger had been pushed through releasing the butter from the body of the mold.
The butter 'popped' off the mold easily.
Releasing the butter from the strawberry mold.

The strawberry mold tends to hold on to the butter. You can see in the above photo that I had to use my knife a bit more aggressively in order for the butter to release.  This mold also tends to be more difficult to remove the plunger from the butter (probably) due to the craved design. Despite the problems removing the butter, it came out lovely.
Strawberry design mold.

Both butters are ready for use.
That's all there is to molding butter. Easy Peasy!