“Bread, milk and butter are of venerable antiquity. They taste of the morning of the world.” – Leigh Hunt ‘The Seer’
Butter: one of the quintessential ingredients of the kitchen. There’s nothing more satisfying than adding a touch of butter to a plate and the flavors make a world of difference. As you may recall, many of you already know about the different types of salt used in all aspects of cooking; if not, I suggest you backtrack and take a look at our previous issue.
Butter’s etymology stems from Greek and Latin influences. Usually in reference to Butryic Acid (CH3CH2CH2-COOH; chemical formula). The chemical compound was originally observed and discovered by Michel Eugene Chevreul, (the father of fats) who also developed the first early prototypes of Soap.
Majority of the butter stems from most common livestock: sheep, goats, buffalo, yak and of course cows. The first ethnic groups to have utilized butter were Greeks, Arabs, Syrians and Southeast Asian Indians. In 2013, 136 Million pounds of butter was produced in in the United States. That’s enough butter for 450 Blue Whales, to put it in perspective (tons of butter if you will). The average butter chip used as a side condiment in many restaurants today (American diners in particular) has about 70 calories. If you used one of those chips of butter in a dinner roll and ate it every day in a year, you would consume approximately 25,000 calories. That’s equivalent to a week’s worth of calories consumed through Occam’s protocol.
For a lot of people at this time, many people believed that having a high Butryic Acid diet can lead to weight loss (e.g. Atkins or Occam’s); however, that is far from the case and in many instances can create other health problems (e.g. heart disease, unhealthy levels of cholesterol and more). All health issues, aside let’s talk about the different types of butter that exist in the market:
- Churned butter: Traditional salted butter from churning pasteurized cream. Breakdown of content is 80% fat, 16% water and the rest milk solid.
- Sweet Butter: aka unsalted butter. Same as churned but usually without the salt. Use immediately because fridge life is scarce. Classic example of this is butter made from fresh cream. The polar opposite would be Sour Cream butter, which resembles European butter.*
- Light Butter: 25% less fat than traditional churned butter (55%). Increased water percentage. Diluted form of churned butter.
- Cultured butter: Made from the same cultures as yogurt. Longer shelf life than traditional churned butter, with the addition of salted vs. unsalted versions being available. Usually labeled as old fashion or antique butter
Like all other ingredients there are variations of course:
- Blended Butter: Butter blended with Canola Oil. Also known as Oleomargerine.
- Whey Butter: Butter separated from Whey and Curd deriving from Cheesemakers.
- *European Butter: Higher fat- lower water content than normal United States butter. Usually better for sauté recipes.
- Whipped Butter: Air Whipped and nothing more.
- Ghee: Clarified Butter, commonly used in Indian dishes
As a final note of reference, butter is like eggs (as addressed in the first article of this series). Many people were under the impressions that butter is bad for you and that it contained so much saturated fat, you’ll literally be swimming in heart disease in no time. Now equipped with the alarming findings from many other regions in the world, (Britain being one of them) they are finding in the long run that it is better to eat natural butter vs. margarine or any type of ‘healthier alternatives.’
Always when it comes to enjoying a good meal or treat, moderation and balance is key with a good regiment of exercise. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be exercising my palate for the weekend and will provide a double stack issue for you next week. Enjoy the weekend!
“European style butter vs. every day U.S. butter”:(http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/299436), last viewed 13 November 2013; last updated: 31 August 2011.
“Michel-Eugene Chevreul (French Chemist)”: (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/109883/Michel-Eugene-Chevreul), last viewed 13 November 2013; last updated:29 October 2013
“Dairy Products 10/3/2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture”:(http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/dary1013.pdf), last viewed 13 November 2013; last updated 3 October 2013
“Other types of butter”:
(http://www.dairygoodness.ca/butter/types-of-butter/other-types-of-butter), last viewed 13 November 2013, last updated unknown