August 21, 2017: Butter Churning
Mrs. Rosalie Calvert was known throughout the region for her excellent butter, which she made and sold in the early 1800s. Drop by on Saturday, September 16 for an opportunity to churn butter by hand, just like Mrs. Calvert did. In the meantime, here’s a little background on the process, compliments of Wikipedia.
Churning is the process of shaking up cream (or whole milk) to make butter, and various forms of butter churn have been used for the purpose. In Europe from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, this was generally as simple as a barrel with a plunger in it, which was moved by hand. Afterward, mechanical means of churning were usually substituted.
Changing whole milk to butter is a process of transforming a fat-in-water emulsion (milk) to a water-in-fat emulsion (butter). Butter is made from cream that has been separated from whole milk and then cooled; fat droplets clump more easily when hard rather than soft. However, making good butter also depends upon other factors, such as the fat content of the cream and its acidity.
The process can be summarized in 3 steps:
- Churning physically agitates the cream until it ruptures the fragile membranes surrounding the milk fat. Once broken, the fat droplets can join with each other and form clumps of fat.
- As churning continues, larger clusters of fat collect until they begin to form a network with the air bubbles that are generated by the churning; this traps the liquid and produces a foam. As the fat clumps increase in size, there are also fewer to enclose the air cells. So the bubbles pop, run together, and the foam begins to leak. This leakage is called buttermilk.
- The cream separates into butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk is drained off, and the remaining butter is kneaded to form a network of fat crystals that becomes the continuous phase, or dispersion medium, of a water-in-fat emulsion. Working the butter also creates its desired smoothness. Eventually, the water droplets become so finely dispersed in the fat that butter’s texture seems dry. Then it is frozen into cubes, then melted, then frozen again into bigger chunks to sell.
Now check out these fun videos on YouTube!
August 8, 2017: Electric streetcar or trolleys arrived in College Park at the turn of the 20th century. The Maryland Line first opened from downtown Washington to Hyattsville in 1899; to Riverdale later that year; to Berwyn in 1900; and to Laurel in 1902. This created yet a third north-south route (in addition to the railroad and the turnpike [Route One])and accelerated the growth of these communities as “streetcar suburbs.” The main stop in Old Town College Park was at the intersection with College Avenue. Less expensive and even faster than the railroad, the streetcar system served the College Park community for nearly 60 years, ending in 1958.
Streetcar YouTube Video Links: