Every month, the Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids workshop at the Wilton Historical Society teaches kids in grades 4–8 a Colonial “reciept” (recipe) used in the Connecticut region. While the food is prepared, they hear about Colonial manners, morals and way of life. This month, on Saturday, June 25, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., participants will be making Strawberry Butter, first turning cream into butter with a churn dash, and then stirring in sweet strawberries.

They will likely chant a churning rhyme while they work, because churning butter is easier if you say a churning rhyme. A snack of fresh popovers will be perfect with strawberry butter.

The workshops feature relatively simple dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. The recipes used will be adapted for modern kitchens. This is done for safety reasons, and also so that the attendees can recreate their meals at home. All participants will sample their own cooking and take home recipe cards, as well as any leftovers. The children will learn how a Colonial kitchen would have operated, in order to appreciate the modern conveniences we take for granted. Previous sessions have made bannock cakes, pease porridge, pickles and an amulet of green peas.

The cost for members is $15, and $25 for non-members. Space is limited; anyone interested in taking part should register by email or by calling 203.762.7257.

Churning song:

Come, butter, come
Come, butter, come
Peter stands at the gate
Waiting for a buttered cake
Come, butter, come

A stick called a dasher or churn dash was moved up and down by hand in an upright container, usually made of wood or earthenware. A churn lid from 1400 years ago, with a hole for the stick, shows that this method has a long history. The stick might be perforated, or it could have a wooden circle, or crossed boards attached, but even with those to help beat the cream, this method took longer than using the more complex kinds of churn which were introduced in the 18th century, and became popular in the 19th.

Come butter come
Come butter come
Peter stands at the gate
Waiting for a buttered cake

Traditional churning song

The long job had its own rhyme. This was sometimes thought of as a charm to make the cream turn into butter, and sometimes as a song which went with the rhythm of the work. It was widely known on both sides of the Atlantic, with many variations, and was probably already old when mentioned in print in 1685. Many cultures had their own churning songs. Some had other charms and superstitions too. Both in Europe and North America metal objects—like needles, knives or horseshoes—were used to drive away evil influences which might prevent cream from turning to butter.