The History of Butter
Butter's origins go back about 10,000 years to the time when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. Today, butter in its many flavorful forms is the world's most popular fat. As a versatile spread, a delicious enhancer for so many foods, and the essential ingredient for baking, butter's simple goodness has no equal...
The first reference to butter in our written history was found on a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet illustrating how butter was made. It is generally believed the word butter originates from the boutyron, Greek for “cow cheese”, however it may have come from the language of cattle-herding Scythians.
Butter is a dairy product containing up to 80% butterfat which is solid when chilled and at room temperature. It is made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk to separate the butterfat from the buttermilk. Butter consists of butterfat, milk proteins and water.
This is your best bet for cooking and baking. For many recipes, it is recommended that you bring the butter to room temperature first so that it better incorporates with other ingredients. The exception is pie crust, for which cold butter is a must. If you wish, you can season unsalted butter yourself to meet your personal taste preferences when using it as a topping or spread.
When butter is melted and made clear by separating and discarding the milk solids and water, it makes the perfect dipping sauce for shellfish and other seafood. But because it will not burn at high temperatures, it is also a good choice for frying and sautéing.
Made from cultured cream, cultured butter has a rich, complex flavor. It is ideal for baking because the lower moisture content produces flakier pastries and fluffier cakes.
This old-fashioned variation is made from cream that is churned more slowly and for a longer time. It has a butterfat content of at least 82 percent—higher than standard butter. The increased amount of butterfat is beneficial for cooking and baking.
After it is churned, nitrogen gas is whipped into butter to create this soft, spreadable butter.