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Local News

June 26, 2013

Nelson Pioneer Farm artifacts

Do you know what this is?

OSKALOOSA —

This past week's Nelson Pioneer Farm artifact is a cream separator.

The artifact has been a popular item this past week. People have responded via email, Facebook and by letter.

The Herald received around 22 responses. The people who responded identified the artifact as a cream separator.

Here is the response from Betty Barnard, who dropped off a note at the Herald office: “This is a hand cranked milk separator which gets the milk and cream in different buckets. I used one for many years a big improvement from before waiting for cream to come on top and taking it off of milk by dipper. They had to be washed every time after use. Then I was lucky that my husband bought me a electric one which now I have on my yard for flowers.”

Nelson Pioneer Farm curator Kelly Halbert has done some research on the cream separator.

These were first introduced about 1877 — using centrifugal force to separate the lighter cream from the heavier skim milk. Previously, cream was just allowed to rise to the top of the milk — fat molecules being lighter than milk molecules.

The process had been in existance for at least 20 years, but the problem of stopping and starting to empty the separated liquids made all previous machines impractical. Dr. DeLaval worked on the process, eventually including wings that held the seperated liquids apart and drained them off into different containers made Cream Separators an essential part of the buttermaking process and increase yields by 10 percent. In addition, it sped up the process enough to make shipping to distant creameries a feasible goal.

The seperator shown here is a DeLaval Separator, produced in New York about 1919.

The invention of the cream separator effectively created the dairy industry as we know it today, taking it out of the farmwife's home production and creating large national industry,” Halbert wrote.

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