Butter 101

June 25, 2012

Confused by all of the choices in the market? This butter 101 will help you decide which butter is right for you.

What is Butter? Commercial butter in the U.S. is an edible animal fat made from small amounts of cream, from whey, that is churned and whipped into a thicker consistency.

How to Buy:
Packaged choices are sold in ½ and 1 lb sizes in sticks, in tubs (whipped or ghee) or 1 lb. bricks. Most US butter is from cow’s milk, but can be made from buffalo, camel, goat, ewe or mare. Homemade, non-commercial butter is made from churning cream until the fat of milk separates from the liquid (buttermilk).

How to Read the Label:
Should contain only milk, cream, and salt as possible ingredients; annatto, a harmless coloring agent, is often used for consistent color.

Organic, pasture raised, conventional, salted, and unsalted. Whipped butters incorporates air or nitrogen for more volume and better spreadability; caution, not for cooking as only 25 percent butterfat as compared to regular butter which has 80 percent butterfat.
Ghee: clarified from butter churned from Indian yogurt curd, boiled, stirred until the water evaporates; has no solid milk particles or water; is toasty sweet in aroma and flavor. Popular in Indian cuisine.

How to Use:
Unsalted butter is preferable for baking to control amount of salt used; adds richness and complexity to toast, sautéed foods, grilled meats, sauces and more.

How to Store:
Butter should be refrigerated immediately after purchase and between uses. Unsalted, up to 3 months, salted up to 5 months. Use tightly sealed container or over wrap. May be frozen for up to 6 months. Do not allow to soften on the kitchen counter as that invites bacteria. Butter should smell fresh and sweet; if sour, discard!

Health Benefits:
Butter has the benefits (and drawbacks) of dairy, and fats.

Smarter Shopping:
Ghee is good for low-fat diets. To reduce cholesterol, mix with olive oil.


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