Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications such as baking, sauce making, and frying. Butter consists of butterfat, water and milk proteins.
Most frequently made from cows' milk, butter can also be manufactured from the milk of other mammals, including sheep, goats, buffalo, and yaks. Salt, flavorings and preservatives are sometimes added to butter. Rendering butter produces clarified butter or ghee, which is almost entirely butterfat.
Butter is an emulsion which remains a solid when refrigerated, but softens to a spreadable consistency at room temperature, and melts to a thin liquid consistency at 32â€“35 Â°C (90â€“95 Â°F). The density of butter is 911 kg/m3 (1535.5 lb/yd3).
It generally has a pale yellow color, but varies from deep yellow to nearly white. Its color is dependent on the animal's feed and is commonly manipulated with food colorings in the commercial manufacturing process, most commonly annatto or carotene.//
The word butter derives (via Germanic languages) from the Latin butyrum, which is borrowed from the Greek boutyron. This may have been a construction meaning ``cow-cheese`` (bous ``ox, cow`` + tyros ``cheese``), or the word may have been borrowed from another language, possibly Scythian. The root word persists in the name butyric acid, a compound found in rancid butter and dairy products such as Parmesan cheese. (Another possibility may be an extended derivation from Sanskrit bhutari, meaning ``the enemy of evil spirits``.)
In general use, the term ``butter`` refers to the spread dairy product when unqualified by other descriptors. The word commonly is used to describe purÃ©ed vegetable or nut products such as peanut butter and almond butter. It is often applied to spread fruit products such as apple butter. Fats such as cocoa butter and shea butter that remain solid at room temperature are also known as ``butters``. In addition to the act of applying butter being called ``to butter``, non-dairy items that have a dairy butter consistency may use ``butter' to call that consistency to mind, including food items such as maple butter and Witch's butter and non-food items such as baby bottom butter, hyena butter, and rock butter.
Unhomogenized milk and cream contain butterfat in microscopic globules. These globules are surrounded by membranes made of phospholipids (fatty acid emulsifiers) and proteins, 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 crystals, 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 cream into butter using a hand held mixer
Churning produces small butter grains floating in the water-based portion of the cream. This watery liquid is called buttermilkâ€”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 scotch hands. 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 consists of many moderate-sized, saturated hydrocarbon chain fatty acids. It is a triglyceride, an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acid groups. Butter becomes rancid when these chains break down into smaller components, like butyric acid and diacetyl. The density of butter is 0.911 g/cm3 (527 oz/in3), about the same as ice.
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 bacteria convert milk sugars into lactic acid. The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds, including diacetyl, which makes for a fuller-flavored and more ``buttery`` tasting product. Today, cultured butter is usually made from pasteurized cream whose fermentation is produced by the introduction of Lactococcus and Leuconostoc 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.When heated, butter quickly melts into a thin liquid.
Dairy products are often pasteurized during production to kill pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. 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 refrigeration and the mechanical cream separator. Butter made from fresh or cultured unpasteurized cream is called raw cream butter. Raw cream butter has a ``cleaner`` cream flavor, without the cooked-milk notes that pasteurization introduces.
Throughout Continental Europe, cultured butter is preferred, while sweet cream butter dominates in the United States and the United Kingdom. Therefore, cultured butter is sometimes labeled European-style butter in the United States. 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 modify the makeup of the butter's fat through chemical manipulation of the finished product, some through manipulation of the cattle's feed, and some by incorporating vegetable oils into the butter. Whipped butter, another product designed to be more spreadable, is aerated via the incorporation of nitrogen gasâ€”normal air is not used, because doing so would encourage oxidation and rancidity.Butter sold in a London market, salted (right) and unsalted (left)
All categories of butter are sold either in salted and unsalted forms. Either granular salt or a strong brine are added to salted butter during processing. In addition to enhanced flavor, the addition of salt acts as a preservative.
The amount of butterfat in the finished product is a vital aspect of production. In the United States, products sold as ``butter`` are required to contain a minimum of 80% butterfat; in practice most American butters contain only slightly more than that, averaging around 81% butterfat. European butters generally have a higher ratio, which may extend up to 85%.
Clarified butter 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 melting point and then allowing it to cool off; after settling, the remaining components separate by density. At the top, whey proteins form a skin which is removed, and the resulting butterfat is then poured off from the mixture of water and casein proteins that settle to the bottom.
Ghee is clarified butter which is brought to higher temperatures of around 120 Â°C (250 Â°F) once the water has cooked off, allowing the milk solids to brown. This process flavors the ghee, and also produces antioxidants which help protect it longer from rancidity. Because of this, ghee can keep for six to eight months under normal conditions.
Cream may be skimmed from whey instead of milk, as a by-product of cheese-making. Whey butter may be made from whey cream. Whey cream and butter have a lower fat content and taste more salty, tangy and â€œcheesyâ€. They are also cheaper than ``sweet`` cream and butter.
Since even accidental agitation can form butter from cream, it is likely that its invention dates from the earliest days of dairying, perhaps in the Mesopotamian area between 9000 and 8000 BCE. The earliest butter would have been from sheep or goat's milk; cattle are not thought to have been domesticated for another thousand years. An ancient method of butter making, still used today in parts of Africa and the Near East, 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.
Butter was known in the classical Mediterranean civilizations, but it does not seem to have been a common food. In the Mediterranean climate, unclarified butter spoils quicklyâ€” unlike cheese 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 barbarians. A play by the Greek comic poet Anaxandrides refers to Thracians as boutyrophagoi; ``butter-eaters``. In Natural History, Pliny the Elder calls butter ``the most delicate of food among barbarous nations``, and goes on to describe its medicinal properties. Later, the physician Galen also described butter as a medicinal agent only.
Historian and linguist Andrew Dalby says that most references to butter in ancient Near Eastern texts should more correctly be translated as ghee. Ghee is mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as a typical trade article around the 1st century CE Arabian Sea, and Roman geographer Strabo describes it as a commodity of Arabia and Sudan. In India, ghee has been a symbol of purity and an offering to the godsâ€”especially Agni, the Hindu god of fireâ€”for more than 3000 years; references to ghee's sacred nature appear numerous times in the Rig Veda, circa 1500â€“1200 BCE. The tale of the child Krishna stealing butter remains a popular children's story in India today. Since India's prehistory, ghee has been both a staple food and used for ceremonial purposes such as fueling holy lamps and funeral pyres.
The cooler climates of northern Europe allowed butter to be stored for a longer period before it spoiled. Scandinavia has the oldest tradition in Europe of butter export trade, dating at least to the 12th century. After the fall of Rome and through much of the Middle Ages, butter was a common food across most of Europe, but one with a low reputation, and was consumed principally by peasants. Butter slowly became more accepted by the upper class, notably when the early 16th century Roman Catholic Church allowed its consumption during Lent. Bread and butter became common fare among the middle class 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 Rouen Cathedral was erected in the early 16th century when Archbishop