General Butter Information
Although butter is viewed as a food by today's standards, it has been used for many things, from a cosmetic to a medicine. Historically, those who used butter were seen as wealthy and successful.
The first documented mention of butter making was in the sacred songs of the dwellers of Asiatic India, dating back to 1,500-2,000 years before Christ. The ancient Hebrews referred to butter in the Old Testament, and as a result, they have been credited as the first developers of the art of butter making.
Butter's unique history has led to creameries all around the world producing large quantities of butter every day. Let's see how butter is made today.
How Butter is Made Today
The art of making butter is a very detailed and intense process that takes place under highly controlled and sanitary conditions in today's creameries.
The process begins with an inspection of fresh, sweet milk for quality, milkfat content and weight. The cream is then separated and prepared for pasteurization. In order to pasteurize the cream, it is heated to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. Ultra-pasteurized milk and ultra-high temperature processed milk are heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two seconds. The extreme heat further reduces levels of bacteria that can cause cream to spoil and in turn increases the refrigerated shelf life of butter.
When pasteurization is completed, the cream is churned. Two types of churning, batch-method and continuous, are currently used by creameries. In batch-method churning, up to 8,000 pounds of butter can be churned per batch. In continuous churning, 1,800 to 11,000 pounds of butter can be produced in an hour.
Grades of butter are established and awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). All butter sold in the United States must contain at least 80 percent milkfat. Grades, ranging from the best grade AA to grade B, are based on flavor, body, color and salt content.
U.S. Grade AA butter has a smooth, creamy texture and is easy to spread. It contains a light, fresh flavor and a small amount of salt. Grade AA butter is made from sweet cream and is available at most grocery stores and supermarkets.
U.S. Grade A butter is made from fresh cream, has a slightly stronger flavor and possesses a fairly smooth texture. Grade A butter is also widely available.
U.S. Grade B butter can be used by consumers for table use. It is usually made from sour cream and is more coarse in texture.
Butter & Salt
Most butter is available in a lightly salted form. The salt is a preservative and also adds to the flavor. Although some butter made from sweat cream is not salted, lightly salted butter is sometimes called "sweet cream butter." Unsalted butter may be referred to as "sweet butter."
Butter & a Healthy Body
A healthful diet includes foods from the four food groups and eating in moderation. People who learn not to over consume certain foods maintain a healthy body and are able to enjoy most foods on a regular basis. Butter should be viewed as just another food that should be budgeted into our diets.
Butter is 100 percent natural and contains no preservatives, artificial flavorings or additives. For healthy people, butter can be a part of your overall fat intake on a daily basis. Fat is necessary to carry fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and help the body assimilate these vitamins. Butter provides more than eight percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin A in one teaspoon.
Fats also slow digestion. A person who eats a pat of butter on toast in the morning will feel satisfied for a longer period of time than a person who eats the toast without butter. A moderate amount of butter in the diet can be crucial in staving off premature hunger and possibly avoiding overeating.
As for calories, one tablespoon of butter contains only 101 calories which is equal to or less than most butter substitutes that don't compare in taste. In addition, a pat of butter (slightly more than one teaspoon) has only 11 milligrams of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association recommends a limit of 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily.