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Butter Facts: 5 Things Most People Don’t Know About This Creamy Spread

butter facts

Look at you getting your butter facts knowledge! We don’t blame you that’s why we wrote this special homage to our favorite creamy spread.

The scent of melted butter is entwined with our most cherished memories, from pancakes to brioche, to grilled corn and butter chicken. There’s no single food so comforting and delightful. Butter is incredibly versatile, too, and is part of both the sweet and savory worlds.

Researching these butter facts made us realize that butter is much more complex than you think, and there are tons of interesting facts around it. Here are our favorite ones along with some butter history to impress your friends at parties or as an excellent conversation starter for your next buttery meal.

1. Butter’s Origin.

It’s impossible to know when butter came to be since dairy has been part of human history since ancient times. To make butter, you must churn or vigorously stir cream from whole milk to separate buttermilk from butter. You also need 21 pints of milk to create just one pound of butter. 

So, who had the idea of spending so much time in a labor-consuming endeavor without knowing the result? Some experts claim a horse rider somewhere in the Asian plains, neglected a container of milk strapped to his belongings. After a full-throttle, milk separated, and butter was born, a delicious finding indeed.

2. How to Preserve Such Precious Food?

Butter became widely spread and was incorporated in most world foods, but there was a problem. Butter has a noticeably brief shelf life, and in a world without refrigeration, that was an issue.

Two preserving methods were developed in different corners of the world. In India, people discovered that by simmering butter and removing the floating protein and all organic matter from butter made it incredibly stable. They called their invention, clarified butter, ghee, and can last for months. 

Europeans, on the other hand, realized that adding salt to butter could increase its shelf life dramatically, although it’s more perishable than ghee. 

3. The Mystery Behind Double Butter.

Fettuccini Alfredo is one of the most famous pasta dishes on earth. Ribbon shaped egg noodles tossed in butter and parmesan cheese. We often find cream in Alfredo sauce recipes, but for purists, it’s a big no-no.

Alfredo sauce was created in 1914 by Alfred Di Lelio in Rome, and it became famous thanks to Hollywood superstars praising the creamy pasta back home. Every chef in the States made their version of Fettuccini Alfredo, but there was an issue. The original recipe called for double butter, and no one seemed to know what that really meant, not even in Italy.

Modern butter is 80% fat, and the fattiest renditions might have 82%, but not more than that. What is double butter? Experts speculate there was at one time lesser butter, with much less fat content, and then the real thing we know today. Alfredo Di Lelio must have known about it and called for double butter (or undiluted butter) for his creamy sauce. 

4. Why Does Butter Taste Like Butter?

Most buttery baking treats and butter-flavored foods like popcorn, store-bought cookies, and even margarine have no butter but artificial flavoring diacetyl. Sometimes, diacetyl is naturally formed during alcoholic fermentation, but now it’s industrially produced despite being linked with a few health hazards. 

Butter is instantly recognizable, both by smell and taste, but think twice, you’re probably not eating butter at all.

5. White or Golden, Which Butter is Better?

The color in butter comes from what cows eat, and although it might not be an indicator for quality, yellow and golden butter comes from cows that feed on herbs, grass, and flowers high in carotenes (the stuff that gives color to carrots too). 

Why isn’t milk yellow too? Because milk is mostly water, with only 3% fat. Butter is 80% fat and carries pigments much better. 

Butter can be quite dark too, almost brown, and we know it isn’t as pretty as light yellow butter, but it comes from happier cows that have a more varied diet. 

A few more butter facts…

Americans eat an average of 5.8 pounds of butter every year, and it’s because the stuff is delicious. Some butter facts are secrets like the ingredients in most of the top Michelin star restaurants in the world (hint: they use TONS fo butter!) And one last butter facts bonus. Butter is now being used for renewable energy!

Knowing more about what we love makes it extra special, so now you know. Share the love and your passion for butter with friends and family, and toss your margarine away, get the real deal instead!

Chef Deno

Follow my journey as I explore food culture around the world - easily from the comfort of your own home. Proud of your food scene? I travel often and we can plan to meet up so you can share the food culture in your town.

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