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April 16, 2010

Get the Skinny on Butter Facts


Many years ago, I used to use margarine on my toast instead of butter.  I was under the impression that margarine was healthier for me.  But the more I thought about  it and researched it a bit, I came to the conclusion that I would rather put a 100% natural product into my body, so I switched to butter. 

I'm so glad I did......it is heaven on bread.  A thin amount goes a long way.


Anyone who has attempted to whip their own whipped cream knows how whipped cream can turn into butter super fast! Prepared in a similar way, butter is made by churning cream until it reaches a creamy state. The watery liquid left behind is buttermilk. By U.S. law, butter must be made of 80% milk fat. Water and milk solids make up the balance of butter. Due to butter's low smoke point (82 degrees F - 97 degrees F), it cannot cook well in skillets.

Butter Facts
  • The U.S. grades their butter based on a variety of flavor, texture, body, salt and color. AA (93), A (92), B (90), and C (89).

  • The term "sweet cream butter" refers to the cream used in making butter. The opposite to sweet cream would be sour cream. Most butter is made from sweet cream.

  • Butter can be colored a yellow color. In the past, marigold flowers were used to achieve this. These days, butter can be colored differently depending on what the cows were eating.

  • Butter must be sealed in an airtight container as it absorbs odors very easily. Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator (which is not the door).


  • If you like your butter soft, you can keep your butter on the counter in an airtight container for a maximum of 3 days at a temperature no higher than 65 degrees. The color and flavor will be affected, but it is safe to eat.

  • If you are in need of substituting salted butter for unsalted butter (or vice versa), the salt content in a stick (1/2 cup) of butter is 1/2 teaspoon.

  • By adding oil to butter when heating it, extends the smoke point to a higher temperature.

  • Butter is a saturated fat, which contains: Vitamins A, D and E, selenium and iodine, as well as Butyric acid. 30% of a person's diet should contain fats, with 1/3 of that being saturated. Butter contains NO trans fatty acids (like margarine does), which are associated with raising one's LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and lowering one's HDL ("good" cholesterol). (http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/butter.asp)

  • Butter has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans mainly used butter for healing wounds.

  • It takes 21 gallons of fresh cow's milk to make 1 pound of butter.
Tips:
• To soften butter faster for cooking, slice up the butter into tablespoon sized pieces.
• For faster pastry making, grate frozen unsalted butter for a flakier crust


Types of Butter
UNSALTED: Unsalted butter is the freshest butter available. It lasts about 2 weeks, and should therefore be stored in a freezer. Bakers use unsalted butter because of this reason, as well as too much salt in baked goods yields tougher dough. If you are in search of a good cookbook on baking, note if the recipes utilize butter or unsalted butter. A baker knowledgeable in food science will know that unsalted butter is best.

SALTED: The only purpose for salt being added to butter is to maintain the freshness of the butter. This butter is best used as a "table butter" or for cooking. This butter can be kept safely in the refrigerator for one month, and in the freezer for six months.

WHIPPED: Butter that is whipped in a blender to create a more smooth and spreadable texture. Due to the addition of air in the beating process (as much as 30 - 45% air), it is not recommended to use whipped butter in baking, unless you weigh the butter. This butter comes in salted and unsalted versions. To save on money, you can purchase
stick butter and whip it yourself.

LIGHT / REDUCED CALORIE: This butter has been made with half the fat of regular butter, with the addition of water, skim milk and gelatin. It should not be substituted for regular butter in frying and baking, as it will yield different results.

CULTURED BUTTER: This butter is made from cultured sour cream. Due to its low moisture content, bakers love this kind as it produces moister cakes and flakier crusts.

CLARIFIED BUTTER / GHEE: excellent as a base for sauces, as its milk solids have been removed and it capable of being heated to high temperatures without burning.

EUROPEAN-STYLE BUTTER: Made from cream that is churned more slowly and for a longer time. It has higher butterfat content than standard butter, producing a more flavorful butter that is beneficial for cooking and baking and can be used at higher temperatures without burning to produce a lighter, flakier pastry.

Anyway you say it, it still means "butter":

• German: Butter
• Spanish: mantequilla
• French: beurre
• Italian: burro
• Portuguese: manteiga (I grew up saying it this way)
• Japanese: bata
• Gaelic: im
• Swedish: smor
• Latin: butyrum


Recipe for Making Butter

Making butter is easy with a food processor (like a Kitchen Aid mixer), and it produces a light fresh taste. You will need:

1-2 cups heavy whipping cream, or double cream (1/3 liter)

Fit food processor with plastic blade, whisk, or normal chopping blade. Fill food processor about 1/4 - 1/2 full. Blend. The cream will go through the following stages: Sloshy, frothy, soft whipped cream, firm whipped cream, coarse whipped cream. Then, suddenly, the cream will seize, its smooth shape will collapse, and the whirring will change to sloshing. The butter is now fine grained bits of butter in buttermilk, and a few seconds later, a glob of yellowish butter will separate from milky buttermilk. Drain the buttermilk.

You can eat the butter now -- it has a light taste -- though it will store better if you wash and work it. Add 1/2 cup (100 mL) of ice-cold water, and blend further. Discard wash water and repeat until the wash water is clear. Now, work butter to remove suspended water. Either place damp butter into a cool bowl and knead with a potato masher or two forks; or put in large covered jar, and shake or tumble. Continue working, pouring out the water occasionally, until most of the water is removed. The butter is now ready. Put butter in a butter crock, ramekins, or roll in waxy freezer paper.

Yield: About half as much butter as the amount of cream you started with.

Various options:

  • Salt to taste before working, a few pinches.
  • Have the cream around 60°F/15°C before churning. (55°F/13°C for goat milk)
  • Obtain the freshest cream you can. So-called "vat pasteurized cream" tastes better than ultra heat treated (UHT) or HTST pasteurized. Try calling your state Department of Agriculture, and asking the Milk Control office who sells vat pasteurized cream. Or just Google 'vat pasteurized cream' and suppliers in your area should pop up. 
  • Shake in a jar instead of a food processor. Shake about once a second. Add a marble to speed things up. This is fun with kids, but expect it to take between 5-30 minutes, depending on the shaking.
  • Culture the cream before churning. Add a few tablespoons (50 mL) store-bought cultured yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, clabbered cream, or creme fraiche, and let sit about 12 hours at warm room temperature (75°F/24°C is ideal) to thicken and ferment before churning. It should taste delicious, slightly sour, with no aftertaste. If it is bubbly, or smells yeasty or gassy, discard.


Honey Butter (so good with warm biscuits or corn bread)

Ingredients
3/4 cup room temperature butter
1/4 cup honey

Directions
Mix the honey and butter together until completely blended. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Herb Butter

Ingredients
2 cups butter, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Beat until well blended. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

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