By Alex, 9/21/2018

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Separating butter & whey

Experiments | Chemistry | Separating butter & whey
Separating butter & whey

About this science experiment

We usually don't think about it this way, but cooking really is science! In this experiment, we're going to figure out how butter (a solid) is made from cream (a liquid), simply by shaking.

We can discover the secret by thinking about the molecules that cream is made of. Cream is what is known as a colloid, a mixture of two substances that can't actually dissolve in one another, but that are mixed well enough not to separate. In the case of cream, microscopic blobs of butterfat float around in a watery liquid called whey. In fact, it's these individual little bubbles of fat that makes cream taste... creamy!

To make butter from cream, we have to separate the butterfat blobs from the whey. By churning or shaking the cream, we force the microscopic fat blobs to bump into each other, gradually forming bigger blobs (think snowman). After shaking for a long time, we'll end up with one big blob of butterfat--butter--and whey.


Materials

  • Heavy cream
  • A lidded container
  • Salt

Procedure

  1. Pour the heavy cream into the container so that it's about half full. Put the lid on the container and ensure it's on tight.


  2. Now, the hard part. Shake the cream inside the container until the whey begins to separate from the butterfat. This can take a while and a lot of elbow grease, so it's good to have someone to take turns with.


  3. When the butter is completely separate from the whey, stop shaking and open the container to observe the separation. Feel free to take a taste! You can add salt if you'd like as well.


Analysis and Conclusion

Hmm... it seems nobody's added a conclusion for this experiment yet. You can suggest one here.

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