On January 3rd, the Spring Creek Afterschool program launched a 10-week cooking course with Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman. Through this educational venture, fourth and fifth graders at PS 346 will learn how to cook fresh produce harvested from the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) and the Aquaponics Lab.
Roytman’s first class showed students how to make one of the most commonly used ingredients— butter. “Butter has been used in our diet as humans for thousands of years. In fact, the first recipe for butter was written on limestone,” Roytman said. Butter can be used as a base for frying food, a melted ingredient in desserts or as a spread on bread. “Butter is traditionally an emulsifier, which is an apparatus used to stabilize or lubricate food,” Roytman explained to the class.
In order to make butter the students needed a pint of heavy cream, salt, and a jar with a tight fitting lid. The class was split into four groups; each received a jar filled with creamer and three pinches of salt. “For us to make butter we need to seal our ingredients in the jar and then take turns shaking it for ten seconds each,” Roytman announced to the students while demonstrating how to safely shake the jars. This process of making butter takes about ten minutes (sometimes a little longer) because the class was manually separating the butter fat from the liquid.
Once the butter has solidified it makes a creamy, almost ice creamesque texture. “Butter is made from fat molecules, so when we shake the jars we are causing the fatty parts in the cream to break open and release fat molecules,” Roytman said. Theoretically, the butter mixing process is similar to using a magnet to pick up a chain of paperclips—each metal clip links together because of the force of the magnet.
The lesson culminated with a delicious taste testing of the smooth butter on slices of a baguette. Many of the children were surprised that the simple act of shaking a jar with creamer and salt could produce butter. “It’s so tasty,” exclaimed Jenna Shehata as she delved her slice of bread into the butter jar. “I am definitely going to try making this at home, maybe with milk and garlic,” she said enthusiastically.
Nine-year-old, Doyinsola Ademuyiwa told his classmates he will try it with chocolate, making his very own version of Nutella. “I am so happy we learned how to make butter, it’s just so easy and fun,” he said.
Photos: Amanda Moses