History of Dairy Products: Butter

About the dairy product butter, information and nutritional value, about how to make different kinds of butter.


Butter is churned from cream. In the old days, this was done by skimming the cream off the top of the milk and hand-churning until it separated. The particles of butter were then washed several times with water, and when it was a solid mass, it was "cut" and salt added. Nowadays butter can be made from either fresh cream or sour or "ripened" cream. Sweet butter is probably a better buy, because further additives have to be used to mask the taste and bacterial defects of the "ripened" cream. Unsalted butter is better than the salted kind, for the same reason--a large amount of salt may be added to retard the growth of molds and yeast. Butter ranges in vitamin A content from 2,000 international units per lb. for winter butter, when the cows are fed on dry feed, all the way to 12,000 IU per lb. for summer butter, when they are out at pasture. Butter is fairly high in calories, providing about 3,200 per lb., and it does contribute to the level of cholesterol in the blood, if lecithin-producing nutrients are missing from the diet.

You can counteract this effect by using modified butter. Mix a pound of butter with a cup of one of the unsaturated oils, sunflower, safflower, or peanut oil. This way, you get butter with an excellent flavor and known essential fatty acids content. The Hunzas, renowned for their superior health, use a form of butter called "ghee," which is made by letting cream ripen at room temperature for several days until it thickens.

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