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Davis Swing Churn, No.1

Display: Bakers' Secrets
Culinary Technique: separation

Date: c. 1880

Manufacturer: Vermont Farm Machine Company

Location: Bellows Falls, Vermont

Dimensions: 14" h x 30" w x 11" d

This churn hung on metal rods from an X-shaped stand and was swung like a cradle to agitate the cream, causing it to separate and then thicken into clumps of butter. The excess milk was released through the drain hole at the bottom right of the churn. A glass porthole on the lid allowed the operator to watch for the clotting inside the churn.

Since prehistoric times, people have made butter using swing action, in animal bladders or skins hung from trees. Since cows produce more milk in the summer, butter making preserved cream for the winter, when fat was an important source of nutrition. Salting extended butter's storage life.