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Butter is a made from the fat and protein components of or . It is a semi-solid at , consisting of approximately 80% . It is used at room temperature as a spread, melted as a , and used as an ingredient in , making, , and other cooking procedures.

Most frequently made from milk, butter can also be manufactured from the milk of other , including , , , and . It is made by churning milk or cream to separate the fat globules from the . and are sometimes added to butter. Rendering butter, removing the water and , produces or , which is almost entirely butterfat.

Butter is a water-in-oil resulting from an inversion of the cream, where the milk proteins are the emulsifiers. Butter remains a firm solid when , but softens to a spreadable consistency at , and melts to a thin liquid consistency at . The density of butter is 911 grams per litre (0.950 lb per US pint). It generally has a pale yellow color, but varies from deep yellow to nearly white. Its natural, unmodified color is dependent on the source animal's feed and genetics, but the commercial manufacturing process commonly manipulates the color with food colorings like or .

The word butter derives (via Germanic languages) from the butyrum, butyrum , Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus which is the latinisation of the βούτυρον ( bouturon). βούτυρον , Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus butter , Oxford Dictionaries This may be a compound of βοῦς ( bous), "ox, cow" βοῦς , Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus + τυρός ( turos), "cheese", that is "cow-cheese". τυρός , Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on PerseusBeekes, Robert Stephen Paul, and Lucien Van Beek. Etymological dictionary of Greek. Vol. 2. Leiden: Brill, 2014 The word turos ("cheese") is attested in . Palaeolexicon , Word study tool of ancient languages The latinized form is found in the name , a compound found in butter and dairy products such as Parmesan cheese.

In general use, the term "butter" refers to the spread dairy product when unqualified by other descriptors. The word commonly is used to describe puréed vegetable or and nut products such as and . It is often applied to spread such as . such as and that remain solid at room temperature are also known as "butters". Non-dairy items that have a dairy-butter consistency may use "butter" to call that consistency to mind, including food items such as and witch's butter and nonfood items such as baby bottom butter, , and .

Unhomogenized milk and cream contain in globules. These globules are surrounded by membranes made of ( ) and , which prevent the fat in milk from pooling together into a single mass. Butter is produced by agitating cream, which damages these membranes and allows the milk fats to conjoin, separating from the other parts of the cream. Variations in the production method will create butters with different consistencies, mostly due to the butterfat composition in the finished product. Butter contains fat in three separate forms: free butterfat, butterfat , and undamaged fat globules. In the finished product, different proportions of these forms result in different consistencies within the butter; butters with many crystals are harder than butters dominated by free fats.

Churning produces small butter grains floating in the water-based portion of the cream. This watery liquid is called —although the buttermilk most common today is instead a directly fermented skimmed milk. The buttermilk is drained off; sometimes more buttermilk is removed by rinsing the grains with water. Then the grains are "worked": pressed and kneaded together. When prepared manually, this is done using wooden boards called . This consolidates the butter into a solid mass and breaks up embedded pockets of buttermilk or water into tiny droplets.

Commercial butter is about 80% butterfat and 15% water; traditionally made butter may have as little as 65% fat and 30% water. Butterfat is a mixture of , a tri derived from and three of any of several groups.Rolf Jost "Milk and Dairy Products" Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2002. Butter becomes when these chains break down into smaller components, like and . The density of butter is 0.911 g/cm3 (0.527 /in3), about the same as .

In some countries, butter is before commercial distribution.

Before modern factory butter making, cream was usually collected from several milkings and was therefore several days old and somewhat fermented by the time it was made into butter. Butter made from a fermented cream is known as cultured butter. During fermentation, the cream naturally sours as convert into . The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds, including , which makes for a fuller-flavored and more "buttery" tasting product.
(2021). 9780684800011, Scribner.
Today cultured butter is usually made from pasteurized cream whose fermentation is produced by the introduction of and bacteria.

Another method for producing cultured butter, developed in the early 1970s, is to produce butter from fresh cream and then incorporate bacterial cultures and lactic acid. Using this method, the cultured butter flavor grows as the butter is aged in cold storage. For manufacturers, this method is more efficient, since aging the cream used to make butter takes significantly more space than simply storing the finished butter product. A method to make an artificial simulation of cultured butter is to add lactic acid and flavor compounds directly to the fresh-cream butter; while this more efficient process is claimed to simulate the taste of cultured butter, the product produced is not cultured but is instead flavored.

Dairy products are often during production to kill bacteria and other . Butter made from pasteurized fresh cream is called sweet cream butter. Production of sweet cream butter first became common in the 19th century, with the development of and the mechanical . Butter made from fresh or cultured unpasteurized cream is called raw cream butter. While butter made from pasteurized cream may keep for several months, raw cream butter has a of roughly ten days.

Cultured butter is preferred throughout continental Europe, while sweet cream butter dominates in the United States and the . Cultured butter is sometimes labeled "European-style" butter in the United States, although cultured butter is made and sold by some, especially Amish, dairies. Commercial raw cream butter is virtually unheard-of in the United States. Raw cream butter is generally only found made at home by consumers who have purchased raw whole milk directly from dairy farmers, skimmed the cream themselves, and made butter with it. It is rare in Europe as well.

Several "spreadable" butters have been developed. These remain softer at colder temperatures and are therefore easier to use directly out of refrigeration. Some methods modify the makeup of the butter's fat through chemical manipulation of the finished product, some manipulate the cattle's feed, and some incorporate into the butter. "Whipped" butter, another product designed to be more spreadable, is aerated by incorporating gas—normal air is not used to avoid and .

All categories of butter are sold in both salted and unsalted forms. Either granular or a strong are added to salted butter during processing. In addition to enhanced flavor, the addition of salt acts as a . The amount of in the finished product is a vital aspect of production. In the United States, products sold as "butter" must contain at least 80% butterfat. In practice, most American butters contain slightly more than that, averaging around 81% butterfat. European butters generally have a higher ratio—up to 85%.

is butter with almost all of its water and milk solids removed, leaving almost-pure butterfat. Clarified butter is made by heating butter to its and then allowing it to cool; after settling, the remaining components separate by density. At the top, proteins form a skin, which is removed. The resulting butterfat is then poured off from the mixture of water and proteins that settle to the bottom.

is clarified butter that has been heated to around 120 °C (250 °F) after the water evaporated, turning the milk solids brown. This process flavors the ghee, and also produces that help protect it from rancidity. Because of this, ghee can be kept for six to eight months under normal conditions.

Whey butter
Cream may be separated (usually by a centrifugal separator) from instead of milk, as a of -making. Whey butter may be made from whey cream. Whey cream and butter have a lower fat content and taste more salty, tangy and "cheesy". They are also cheaper than "sweet" cream and butter. The fat content of whey is low, so 1000 pounds of whey will typically give 3 pounds of butter.Charles Thom, Walter Fisk, The Book of Cheese, 1918, reprinted in 2007 as , p. 296

European butters
There are several butters produced in with protected geographical indications; these include:
  • Beurre d'Ardenne, from
  • Beurre d'Isigny, from
  • Beurre Charentes-Poitou (Which also includes: Beurre des Charentes and Beurre des Deux-Sèvres under the same classification), from France
  • , from
  • Mantequilla de Soria, from
  • Mantega de l'Alt Urgell i la Cerdanya, from Spain
  • Rucava white butter ( Rucavas baltais sviests), from

The earliest butter would have been from or 's milk; are not thought to have been for another thousand years.Dates from McGee p. 10. An ancient method of butter making, still used today in parts of and the , involves a goat skin half filled with milk, and inflated with air before being sealed. The skin is then hung with ropes on a tripod of sticks, and rocked until the movement leads to the formation of butter.

In the Mediterranean climate, unclarified butter spoils quickly, unlike , so it is not a practical method of preserving the nutrients of milk. The ancient Greeks and Romans seemed to have considered butter a food fit more for the northern . A play by the Greek comic poet refers to as boutyrophagoi, "butter-eaters".Dalby p. 65. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder calls butter "the most delicate of food among barbarous nations" and goes on to describe its medicinal properties.Bostock and Riley translation. Book 28, chapter 35. Later, the physician also described butter as a medicinal agent only.Galen. de aliment. facult.

Historian and linguist says most references to butter in ancient Near Eastern texts should more correctly be translated as . Ghee is mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as a typical trade article around the first century CE , and Roman geographer describes it as a commodity of and Sudan. In , ghee has been a symbol of purity and an offering to the gods—especially , the god of fire—for more than 3000 years; references to ghee's sacred nature appear numerous times in the , circa 1500–1200 BCE. The tale of the child stealing butter remains a popular children's story in India today. Since India's prehistory, ghee has been both a and used for ceremonial purposes, such as fueling holy lamps and funeral pyres.

Middle Ages
In the cooler climates of northern Europe, people could store butter longer before it spoiled. has the oldest tradition in Europe of butter export trade, dating at least to the 12th century.Web Exhibits: Butter. Ancient Firkins . After the fall of Rome and through much of the , butter was a common food across most of Europe—but had a low reputation, and so was consumed principally by . Butter slowly became more accepted by the upper class, notably when the early 16th century Roman Catholic Church allowed its consumption during . Bread and butter became common fare among the and the English, in particular, gained a reputation for their liberal use of melted butter as a sauce with meat and vegetables.

In antiquity, butter was used for fuel in lamps, as a substitute for oil. The Butter Tower of was erected in the early 16th century when Archbishop Georges d'Amboise authorized the burning of butter during Lent, instead of oil, which was scarce at the time.

(1977). 9780448229768, Paddington Press.

Across northern Europe, butter was sometimes treated in a manner unheard-of today: it was packed into barrels () and buried in , perhaps for years. Such "" would develop a strong flavor as it aged, but remain edible, in large part because of the unique cool, airless, and environment of a peat bog. Firkins of such buried butter are a common archaeological find in Ireland; the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology has some containing "a grayish cheese-like substance, partially hardened, not much like butter, and quite free from putrefaction." The practice was most common in Ireland in the 11th–14th centuries; it ended entirely before the 19th century.

Like Ireland, became well known for its butter, particularly in and . Butter consumption in London in the mid 1840s was estimated at 15,357 tons annually. The National Cyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge, Vol.III, London (1847) Charles Knight, p.975. By the 1860s, butter had become so in demand in France that Emperor Napoleon III offered prize money for an inexpensive substitute to supplement France's inadequate butter supplies. A French chemist claimed the prize with the invention of in 1869. The first margarine was flavored with milk and worked like butter; vegetable margarine followed after the development of oils around 1900.

Until the 19th century, the vast majority of butter was made by hand, on farms. The first butter factories appeared in the United States in the early 1860s, after the successful introduction of factories a decade earlier. In the late 1870s, the was introduced, marketed most successfully by engineer Carl Gustaf Patrik de Laval.Edwards, Everett E. "Europe's Contribution to the American Dairy Industry". The Journal of Economic History, Volume 9, 1949. 72-84. This dramatically sped up the butter-making process by eliminating the slow step of letting cream naturally rise to the top of milk. Initially, whole milk was shipped to the butter factories, and the cream separation took place there. Soon, though, cream-separation technology became small and inexpensive enough to introduce an additional efficiency: the separation was accomplished on the farm, and the cream alone shipped to the factory. By 1900, more than half the butter produced in the was factory made; followed suit shortly after.

In 1920, Otto Hunziker authored The Butter Industry, Prepared for Factory, School and Laboratory, a well-known text in the industry that enjoyed at least three editions (1920, 1927, 1940). As part of the efforts of the American Dairy Science Association, Professor Hunziker and others published articles regarding: causes of tallowiness (an odor defect, distinct from rancidity, a taste defect); mottles (an aesthetic issue related to uneven color); introduced salts; the impact of creamery metals and liquids; and acidity measurement. These and other ADSA publications helped standardize practices internationally.

Butter also provided extra income to farm families. They used wood presses with carved decoration to press butter into pucks or small bricks to sell at nearby markets or general stores. The decoration identified the farm that produced the butter. This practice continued until production was mechanized and butter was produced in less decorative stick form. Today, butter presses remain in use for decorative purposes.

Butter consumption declined in most western nations during the 20th century, mainly because of the rising popularity of , which is less expensive and, until recent years, was perceived as being healthier. In the United States, margarine consumption overtook butter during the 1950s,Web Exhibits: Butter. Eating less butter, and more fat . and it is still the case today that more margarine than butter is eaten in the U.S. and the EU.See for example this chart from International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe statistics . Retrieved 4 December 2005.


United States
In the United States, butter has traditionally been made into small, rectangular blocks by means of a pair of wooden butter paddles. It is usually produced in sticks that are individually wrapped in waxed or foiled paper, and sold as a package of 4 sticks. This practice is believed to have originated in 1907, when Swift and Company began packaging butter in this manner for mass distribution.

Due to historical differences in butter printers (machines that cut and package butter), 4-ounce sticks are commonly produced in two different shapes:

  • The dominant shape east of the Rocky Mountains is the Elgin, or Eastern-pack shape, named for a dairy in Elgin, Illinois. The sticks measure and are typically sold stacked two by two in elongated cube-shaped boxes.
  • West of the Rocky Mountains, butter printers standardized on a different shape that is now referred to as the Western-pack shape. These butter sticks measure and are usually sold with four sticks packed side-by-side in a flat, rectangular box.

Most butter dishes are designed for Elgin-style butter sticks.

Butter stick wrappers are usually marked with divisions for , which is less than their actual volume: the Elgin-pack shape is , while the Western-pack shape is . The printing on unsalted ("sweet") butter wrappers is typically red, while that for salted butter is typically blue.

Outside of the United States, the shape of butter packages is approximately the same, but the butter is measured for sale and cooking by mass (rather than by volume or unit/stick), and is sold in and packages. The wrapper is usually a foil and waxed-paper laminate. (The waxed paper is now a siliconised substitute, but is still referred to in some places as , from the wrapping used in past centuries; and the term 'parchment-wrapped' is still employed where the paper alone is used, without the foil laminate.)

Bulk packaging
Butter for commercial and industrial use is packaged in plastic buckets, tubs, or drums, in quantities and units suited to the local market.

Since the 1940s, but more commonly the 1960s, butter pats have been individually wrapped and packed in cardboard boxes. Prior to use of cardboard, butter was bulk packed in wood. The earliest discoveries used firkins. From about 1882 wooden boxes were used, as the introduction of refrigeration on ships brought about longer transit times. Butter boxes were generally made with woods whose resin would not taint the butter, such as sycamore, kahikatea, hoop pine, , or . They commonly weighed a firkin - .

In 1997, India produced of butter, most of which was consumed domestically.Most nations produce and consume the bulk of their butter domestically. Second in production was the United States (), followed by France (), (), and (). France ranks first in per capita butter consumption with 8 kg per capita per year. In terms of absolute consumption, Germany was second after India, using of butter in 1997, followed by France (), (), and the United States (). New Zealand, , and the are among the few nations that export a significant percentage of the butter they produce.Statistics from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (1999). Dairy: Word Markets and Trade . Retrieved 1 December 2005. The export and import figures do not include trade between nations within the , and there are inconsistencies regarding the inclusion of clarified butterfat products (explaining why New Zealand is shown exporting more butter in 1997 than was produced).

Different varieties are found around the world. is a spiced clarified butter, buried in the ground and aged for months or years. A similar product is maltash of the , where cow and yak butter can be buried for decades, and is used at events such as weddings. is a specialty in ; , flour mixed with yak butter, is a staple food. is consumed in the regions of Tibet, , and India. It consists of served with intensely flavored—or "rancid"—yak butter and salt. In and developing nations, butter is traditionally made from rather than cream. It can take several hours of churning to produce workable butter grains from fermented milk.Crawford et al., part B, section III, ch. 1: Butter . Retrieved 28 November 2005.

World butter production (cow's milk) and main producing countries in 2018:

Source : FAOSTAT

Normal butter softens to a spreadable consistency around 15 °C (60 °F), well above temperatures. The "butter compartment" found in many refrigerators may be one of the warmer sections inside, but it still leaves butter quite hard. Until recently, many refrigerators sold in featured a "butter conditioner", a compartment kept warmer than the rest of the refrigerator—but still cooler than room temperature—with a small heater. Bring back butter conditioners . Retrieved 27 November 2005. The feature has been phased out for energy conservation reasons. Keeping butter tightly wrapped delays rancidity, which is hastened by exposure to light or air, and also helps prevent it from picking up other odors. Wrapped butter has a of several months at refrigerator temperatures. How Long Does Butter Last? . Retrieved 03, October 2014. Butter can also be frozen to further extend its storage life.

"French butter dishes" or " butter dishes" have a lid with a long interior lip, which sits in a container holding a small amount of water. Usually the dish holds just enough water to submerge the interior lip when the dish is closed. Butter is packed into the lid. The water acts as a seal to keep the butter fresh, and also keeps the butter from overheating in hot temperatures. This method lets butter sit on a countertop for several days without spoiling.

In cooking and gastronomy
Butter has been considered indispensable in since the 17th century.Jean-Robert Pitte, French Gastronomy: The History and Geography of a Passion, , p. 94 Chefs and cooks have extolled its importance: said "Donnez-moi du beurre, encore du beurre, toujours du beurre!" 'Give me butter, more butter, still more butter!';Robert Belleret, Paul Bocuse, l'épopée d'un chef, 2019, said "With enough butter, anything is good."Katie Armour, "Top 20 Julia Child Quotes", Matchbook, April 15, 2013

Once butter is softened, , , or other flavoring agents can be mixed into it, producing what is called a compound butter or composite butter (sometimes also called composed butter). Compound butters can be used as spreads, or cooled, sliced, and placed onto hot food to melt into a sauce. Sweetened compound butters can be served with ; such are often flavored with spirits.

Melted butter plays an important role in the preparation of , notably in . (hazelnut butter) and (black butter) are sauces of melted butter cooked until the milk solids and sugars have turned golden or dark brown; they are often finished with an addition of or . Hollandaise and sauces are of egg yolk and melted butter; they are in essence made with butter instead of oil. Hollandaise and béarnaise sauces are stabilized with the powerful in the egg yolks, but butter itself contains enough emulsifiers—mostly remnants of the fat globule membranes—to form a stable emulsion on its own. (white butter) is made by whisking butter into reduced vinegar or , forming an emulsion with the texture of thick cream. Beurre monté (prepared butter) is melted but still butter; it lends its name to the practice of "mounting" a sauce with butter: whisking cold butter into any water-based sauce at the end of cooking, giving the sauce a thicker body and a glossy shine—as well as a buttery taste.

In Poland, the ( Baranek wielkanocny) is a traditional addition to the Easter Meal for many Polish Catholics. Butter is shaped into a lamb either by hand or in a lamb-shaped mould. Butter is also used to make edible decorations to garnish other dishes. Butter is used for sautéing and , although its milk solids brown and burn above 150 °C (250 °F)—a rather low temperature for most applications. The of butterfat is around 200 °C (400 °F), so clarified butter or ghee is better suited to frying. Ghee has always been a common frying medium in India, where many avoid other animal fats for cultural or religious reasons.

Butter fills several roles in , where it is used in a similar manner as other solid fats like , , or , but has a flavor that may better complement sweet baked goods. Many and some batters are , at least in part, by creaming butter and together, which introduces air bubbles into the butter. The tiny bubbles locked within the butter expand in the heat of baking and aerate the cookie or cake. is an icing made with creamed butter. Some cookies like may have no other source of moisture but the water in the butter. like dough incorporate pieces of solid fat into the dough, which become flat layers of fat when the dough is rolled out. During baking, the fat melts away, leaving a flaky texture. Butter, because of its flavor, is a common choice for the fat in such a dough, but it can be more difficult to work with than shortening because of its low melting point. Pastry makers often chill all their ingredients and utensils while working with a butter dough.

Nutritional information
As butter is essentially just the milk fat, it contains only traces of , so moderate consumption of butter is not a problem for lactose intolerant people.From data here [18] , one of butter contains 0.03 grams of lactose; a cup of milk contains 400 times that amount. People with may still need to avoid butter, which contains enough of the allergy-causing proteins to cause reactions.Allergy Society of South Africa. Milk Allergy & Intolerance . Retrieved 27 November 2005. Whole , butter and have high levels of . Butter is a good source of .

Health concerns
A 2015 study concluded that "hyper people should keep their consumption of butter to a minimum, whereas moderate butter intake may be considered part of the diet in the normocholesterolemic population."

A meta-analysis and systematic review published in 2016 found relatively small or neutral overall associations of butter with mortality, CVD, and diabetes. The study further states that "findings do not support a need for major emphasis in dietary guidelines on either increasing or decreasing butter consumption".

See also
  • List of butter dishes
  • List of dairy products
  • List of spreads
  • List of sauces#Butter sauces

Further reading
  • (2021). 9780684800011, Scribner.
    pp. 33–39, "Butter and Margarine"
  • (2021). 9780415232593, Routledge (UK). .
  • Michael Douma (editor). WebExhibits' Butter pages. Retrieved 21 November 2005.
  • (1990). 9789251028995, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
    Full text online
  • Grigg, David B. (7 November 1974). Https://" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> The Agricultural Systems of the World: An Evolutionary Approach, 196–198. Google Print. (accessed 28 November 2005). Also available in print from Cambridge University Press.

External links

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