Butter is a milk product obtained from churning fresh milk or milk cream. The main components of butter are milk proteins, water and butterfat. The color of butter varies from pale yellow to pure white. Mainly the color depends upon the food eaten by the cattle through which milk is obtained. Cow’s milk is best for making butter but milk from other animals such as goat and sheep can also be used. Commonly, butter is sold in the form of slabs and sticks. It remains solid when refrigerated but melts at room temperature. Butter biscuits, butter naan and butter bread are some of the common butter recipes that are well-liked in global cuisine.
History of Butter
There are no clear facts regarding the origin of butter. Earlier only sheep and goat’s milk were used to make butter or ‘ghee’. ‘Ghee’ is the most commonly used term for clarified butter in ancient times. According to a Roman geographer, Ghee is an Arabian commodity that was the most important trade article during 1st century. India’s relation with butter is for more than 3000 years. Since prehistoric times, butter or ghee has been a staple food in India.
Culinary Use of Butter
Butter can be used as a spread or can be served as a condiment with various dishes. The application of butter while cooking is very wide. It can be used to cook meats and vegetables. Several baked items like cakes, muffins, biscuits and pies are made with butter. Almost all the butter recipes are high in calories but they make delectable snacks, main dishes or even desserts. Flavored and seasoned butter is also a very popular butter recipe. Butter dishes are not only served in everyday meals but festive butter recipes are also quiet popular in almost all cuisines. Festive butter wafers, festive butter cookies and festive butter green beans are some of the festival dishes made with butter.
Cuisines Commonly Making Butter Dishes
Indian cuisine is the most popular cuisine in butter consumption. Butter dishes are made either with ghee or with butter. Various sweets and savory dishes are made with butter in Indian cuisine, such as butter naan, ghee ka halwa and ghee ke ladoo. Butter is also widely used to temper soups and dal. French cuisine comes second after India in butter consumption. Sauces and dips made with butter are the common butter dishes in French cuisine. Beurre noisette and Beurre noir are the famous French sauces made with butter. The traditional Easter meal in Poland includes ‘butter lamb’. Butter is given the shape of a lamb either made with hands or by using the mould. Germany, USA, Italy and New Zeeland are also not far behind in consuming butter dishes.
Preferred Methods of Cooking Butter
Butter as an ingredient has varied uses and butter dishes can be cooked with the following methods:
• Sautéing – Various kinds of vegetables and meats are sautéed in butter and served as a delectable butter dish.
• Baking – Baked items such as cakes, muffins, pies and cookies are made with butter or ghee. Baked savory dishes such as baked chicken or baked beans also make good use of butter.
• Frying – Butter or ghee can also be used to fry the food items such as fried vegetables, fried chicken or fried pakoras.
Nutritive Value of Butter
According to nutritionists, butter is a good ingredient as long as it is eaten in moderation. Butter and butter dishes are a good source of vitamin A and D. Though butter is high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol but in comparison to Margarine, butter is a healthy option.
Consumption Criteria of Butter
Butter contains saturated fats that increases cholesterol level of body and leads to various health problems such as obesity and heart diseases. It also contains some traces of ‘lactose’. So people having ‘lactose intolerance’ should avoid consumption of butter dishes.
Buying and Storing of Butter
• Butter should be purchased with the UDSA grading. This grading ensures the quality of butter.
• Butter is a perishable item so it should be purchase after checking the manufacturing date.
• Storing of butter properly increases its shelf-life hence it should be kept in refrigerator to avoid spoilage and rancidity.
• Butter tends to absorb odor from other foods very fast. It is recommended to keep it in a tight container.
• Keep butter in a moisture-free wrapper.
Types of Butter
• Cultured butter – This type of butter is made from the fermented cream. It is a most common variety used in making continental butter dishes.
• Salted butter – Salt is often added to butter to avoid spoilage. Flavored or salted butter are commonly used as spreads or condiments.
• Preserved butter – It is pungent-taste butter. It is similar to ‘smen’, a Moroccan delicacy. Usually, herbs and seasonings are added to butter and it is used in various savory butter recipes.
• Sweet cream butter – It is an uncultured butter made up of fresh cream. It is the most preferred variety of butter to use in baked butter recipes.
• Whipped butter – Nitrogen gas is whipped into the butter after it has been churned. This process allows butter to remain soft even at low temperature. This variety is not ideal for cooking purposes.
• During middle ages, the yellow color was given to butter with ‘marigold flowers’.
• In 1962, powdered butter was developed in Australia.