Butter: Everything You May Not Know

Butter: Everything You May Not Know

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Butter is one of the most popular dairy products available in grocery stores. It’s a kitchen staple that gets used by millions of people to create hundreds of different meals. You might spread it on your toast, add it to your corn on the cob, put it in your mashed potatoes, or even melt it before using it to make cookies and cakes. Butter comes in handy when used as an ingredient in dozens of different recipes.

However, there are some things you might not know about butter. If you’d like to learn more, check out these interesting facts about butter that not everyone knows. In case you missed this post, Easy To Make Dinner Rolls For Two

Butter: Everything You May Not Know

Butter: Everything You May Not Know

Where Does Butter Come From?

You might already know that butter comes from traditional cow’s milk. The cream of the milk gets churned and eventually turns into butter. Unsalted butter is the way it traditionally tastes without anything added to it.

However, lots of recipes call for salted butter, which tends to have a lot more flavor. If you’re making something sweet, you’re more likely to use unsalted butter compared to using salted butter when preparing something savory.

Butter is semi-solid. While you can buy it at the store in solid form, it’s easy to turn it into a liquid. If you ever want to use liquid butter instead of a stick of butter, add the stick to a microwave-safe container, heat it for about 30-45 seconds, and then remove it from the microwave.

When you pull the container out of the microwave, you’ll quickly see that it’s melted and ready to use. Many people use melted butter on their popcorn, corn on the cob, potatoes, vegetables, and other foods. 

Are Butter and Margarine the Same Thing?

Butter and margarine aren’t the same things. While they may look alike, they don’t contain the same ingredients, and the taste is much different. Don’t be fooled by brands that will claim that you can’t taste the difference.

Anyone who enjoys fresh, real butter will quickly identify the difference in taste between a traditional stick of butter and a spoonful of margarine.

Modern margarine products contain vegetable oils. In addition, traditional butter typically consists of dairy fat, but with margarine, there isn’t any dairy fat included.

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Which Is Better to Use, Butter or Margarine?

There is a great debate over which of the two to use as an ingredient in various recipes. However, it all depends on your personal preference. If you’re looking for something with fewer calories, margarine is an alternative. However, if you want that true authentic butter taste, you need to stick with the real thing. No brand of margarine can compare to the fresh taste of butter.

When Did Butter Become an Ingredient Used by People?

It’s believed that butter has been around since 2000 BC, which is crazy! It’s hard to say who came up with the idea, but we know that it’s been around for ages, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

You may have thought it was a kitchen staple created in the early 1900s or the late 1800s, but researchers believe butter existed way before then, allowing individuals to add flavor to their foods.

The Different Ways to Use Butter

Did you know that you can fry a stick of butter? While it’s not the healthiest thing to do, there are times when people can buy this concoction at festivals and fairs. Before frying the butter, a cold stick of butter gets tossed into an egg wash and then dipped in flour or some other type of breading.

It then gets thrown into hot oil, where it sits for a few minutes. It sits in the oil long enough for the flour to create a crisp coating around the butter, but not long enough to cause the butter to melt. It’s crazy to think that something like that exists, but it does, and people love it.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

If you’re not frying your butter, don’t feel like an outcast. You’re not the only one who isn’t preparing it that way! However, you may use butter to prepare other things. For example, butter is an excellent addition to homemade macaroni and cheese. You can prepare a roux for your macaroni and cheese using flour, butter, cheese, and spices. After you’ve prepared the roux, you can pour it over the boiled pasta that you’ve drained, creating a delicious stovetop macaroni and cheese for the family.

Cakes and Crusts

When you want to make something sweet instead of savory, combine melted butter with graham cracker crumbs and sugar to create a homemade crust for pies, cheesecakes, and other delicious desserts. You can also combine melted butter, eggs, milk, and a boxed cake mix to prepare a cake that tastes as if it came from a bakery. You can impress your loved ones with an incredible boxed cake that doesn’t taste like it came from a box at all with a bit of melted butter as the secret ingredient.

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When you’re not feeling well, there is nothing quite as settling for the stomach as a piece of toast with some butter spread on top. Some people like to spread the butter first and then add a bit of jam or jelly on top. So whether you like strawberry jam, grape jelly, or any other flavor, you can enjoy the way it tastes with a bit of butter on a crispy piece of toast.

You can do so much more than these things with butter. Whether you’re baking a cake, making cookies from scratch, preparing a pasta dish, or even boiling some corn, butter is a great ingredient to have in the fridge. You never know when you’ll need it next.

Have long does butter last?

I quote the USDA, “Butter, and margarine is safe at room temperature. However, if butter is left out at room temperature for several days, the flavor can turn rancid, so it’s best to leave out whatever you can use within a day or two. Margarine, especially soft tub margarine, can separate into oil or water and solids when not kept refrigerated, although it will be safe.”

Do Butter Bells work?

Butter Bell

Yes, they do, but you need to change the water every 3 days or the butter gets too warm and drops to the bottom. In other words, the butter goes for a swim, so to speak. In order to use a Butter Bell, you need to have soft butter to squeeze or push down in the bell part. My Butter Bell suggests 1/3 cup of fresh cold water every 3 days to be filled in the lower section of the bell. Butter Bell Crock It holds 1/2 cup (125 grams) of butter.

The water makes an airtight seal that keeps oxygen away from the butter (oxygen is what turns butter rancid or sour and not tasty or safe). The butter will be fine for a week or two IF you change out the water every 2-3 days. When in doubt, throw it out.

Can I freeze butter?

Yes, you can. When butter goes on sale, I stock up big time. Why, because butter is expensive and I never want to run out of this precious commodity. I freeze it, I like to have at least ten pounds in the freezer at all times. The USDA states butter is good in the freezer for 6-9 months.

What kind of butter does not need to be refrigerated?

I quote Healthline, “Unsalted, whipped, or raw, unpasteurized butter is best kept in the fridge to minimize the chances of bacterial growth ( 4 ). Salted butter does not need to be stored in the fridge since the risk of bacterial growth is so low.”

How can I tell if my butter has gone bad?

  • If you see ANY mold discard all of it. Better safe than sorry and sick.
  • If it smells sour or rancid, discard it all.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

Final Word 

Don’t settle for imitation butter when preparing different foods. If you want that quality taste that comes from butter because of the churning process, skip the margarine and go straight for the butter during your next visit to the grocery store. You won’t regret choosing butter over margarine! It tastes better, lasts longer, and is far more versatile. May God Bless this world, Linda.

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  1. Linda this is a great post as usual. I buy 3 pound rolls of Amish made butter at our local grocery store. I love the taste of butter in cooking. When I was little, I used to eat butter off the stick. LOL Now I know better.

  2. Hi Linda,
    I know you don’t know that my husband grew up on a dairy farm too. Yes, his folks farmed wheat and had a small dairy operation. Since he grew up with real food, that’s what he likes now, so I have to work at being an average weight!

    His folks sold the dairy when he was 14, but he has fond memories of helping in the milk barn.

    1. Hi Paula, memories are the best! You can’t take those away! I would love an average weight! LOL! Because I write every single day, I graze in the kitchen. Not a good habit! The V made snacks more readily available. Not good! I’m working on the average weight! Great comment, Linda

  3. Hi Linda, my first taste of real butter was those frozen butter beef steaks with four little pats of butter on them to cook them in. When my Mom would buy them, I would steal the butter off the top! After I moved from home, I never bought margarine again! A sociology teacher told us the history of margarine. In the world wars, they sent all the butter to the soldiers. Margarine was invented from fish tallow to satisfy the folks here in the states… yuck!!! Side note: a roux is just the butter and flour browned, before you add liquid to make the sauce. PS rice flour(especially sweet or sticky rice flour) works really well for sauces for us non-wheat people. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Jan, oh my gosh, this is the best story ever! I grew up on margarine or Oleo. Some of my recipe books ask for oleo or margarine. One day I read where butter is better for you than the chemicals in margarine. That’s all I need to hear to make the switch to butter. I have taught all my grandkids how to make a roux. If you can make a roux, you make so many recipes. They might not be healthy but they will fill the belly! LOL! The steak story with butter is priceless! I’m glad to hear you can make a roux with rice flour, I love it! Linda

  4. i put mine in food saver sealed bags in freezer ! butter picks up flavors if not protected ,as does margarine ,learned the hard way !

  5. Margarine is essentially two molecules short of being a plastic (according to several videos on You Tube). Now that you know, do you really want to eat margarine based products? Butter is natural, tasty by itself, and costs so very little more than margarine. Artificial flavorings make margarine taste better than it used to, but I believe that the ingredients are toxic to the human body and cause intestinal diseases we did not have 30 years ago. So, real butter, or unnatural Parkay? Your choice.

    1. Hi Longshorts, butter is it! It’s so funny, I had forgotten about margarine or oleo until I wrote this post. It’s funny, I bet it’s been 40 years since I started buying butter only. You nailed it on the toxic ingredients! Thank you, Linda

  6. As usual, I have a literary offering! Besides a good deal of information on butter in Dorothy Hartley’s “Food In England,” there is “Butter: A Rich History” by Elaine Khosrova. Everything you could ever imagine about the history, making, and uses of butter! And lots of recipes!

    There’s even a difference in butters. The best (by taste and nutrition) is from animals out grazing in spring and early summer, when the grass is the most nutritious. If I want a real treat in spring, I’ll buy some raw cream from the dairy near us, and make some butter (I have a hand churn, but you can easily do it in a jar–like having schoolchildren shake up jars of butter in class!) I’ve even seen “spring” butter for sale in some grocery stores. (By the way–traditionally, butter around Cambridge used to be sold by length–in long rolls, measured with a ring gauge!)

    1. Hi Rhonda, oh you know I love stuff like this!!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! It makes sense the butter would be different in spring and early summer. It’s so funny because someone on a food storage company said their powdered butter tasted like Land O’Lakes. No way, I can still smell it and I mixed it up several years ago. LOL! I could use it for baking but not on toast. I would eat it with jam only! LOL! Great comment! Linda

  7. Linda:

    I keep my salted butter out all the time and my unsalted butter out in the winter. The salted butter does not melt or go moldy if kept out. While unsalted butter will because the salt will keep the butter fresh.
    When my youngest son was in high school (I homeschooled my 3 children) we did a experiment with butter and margarine because a friend who also home-schools her children told me they did the experiment and the flies would not go near the margarine but they flocked to the butter. That is all it took to convince my margarine was no good for me. Flies will flock to what is good but they won’t touch something that will kill them. Usually. Well my experiment ended like hers did the flies ate the butter but would not touch the margarine. I had stopped using margarine many years ago because there is no taste like butter. It makes everything taste better.

  8. Linda, we freeze butter 10-20 pounds at a time whenever it goes on sale. We are butter only people and have never used margarine.

    I can remember my grandmother churning butter. We had a Jersey milk cow who produced milk with a very high cream content. Made the best butter I’ve ever tasted.

    We could use a tap water in a butter bell here as in the summer time we don’t have cold water. The contractors who built out place only buried the water lines about 12″ deep so the sun heats the ground and we end up with very warm “cold” tap water.

    1. Hi Ray, oh my gosh, that must be why our water is never cold. I have to get it from the frig. I never thought about it but I bet that’s why our water is never cold, ever. Butter is so good, I have to stock up my freezer when it’s on sale. It sounds like I need to up my game to 20 pounds! I love hearing this, Linda

  9. Morning Linda, I finally got a chance to read this post, I’ve been busy and put some things off till it’s necessary to clean out my emails. Anyway, some of this is news, like the butter bell; never heard of it before. I switched to butter a long while back after reading the ingredients on a box/tub of several margarines, I get enough fat in other products that aren’t good for you, so butter it’s been for several years. I believe that butter is the best to use and won’t buy margarine any more. And you said something at the end my mother used to say all the time concerning anything edible… When in doubt, throw it out. I’ve used that for anything that’s been forgotten in the fridge or I’m not sure of. I wish I could make my own and save a few dollars. (How would you recommend this could be done, what should I use to make my own butter. That would be nice to know.) Thanks again for your wonderful example.

    1. Hi Pamela, thank you for your kind words. I looked at making butter but the price of heavy cream is so expensive, I’m not sure we would save money making it. Unless, we had a farm, with a cow! LOL! I hear you on the frig clean out, my next frig is going to be one of those that are not as deep. They are level with your cabinets and they do not stick out past the kitchen cabinet depth. We only have two people so we do not need a frig to dig through for stuff at the back! LOL! I’m with you only butter on my toast or pancakes! Life is good with butter! Linda

      1. Hello, again. Thanks for the info on cream, never came to my mind. I live in a small apartment and already have what I call a mini fridge; although it’s really a small apartment size. When I shop it has a tendency to get full. And I’m still working on my pantry, being on a fixed income I can only get so much and the next thing I want to buy is a chest freezer so I can store more frozen items, so freezing things will be stored a lot easier. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there. And yes, life is better with BUTTER!!! ( and not to be nosy, but do you get any sleep?)

        1. Hi Pamela, you are so funny. I get up at 4:30 every morning, take a 2-hour nap around 11:00 (I turn my phone off) and I go to bed at 7:30 or so. I have a husband and two dogs and I basically never stop thinking about what I can learn and teach. Life is good! Having readers like you make my day! Linda

    1. Hi Chris, oh, you guys are so nice! My granddaughter got married and I took 3 days off. Two days to drive (exhausting) and one day of pure bliss! I love this group! I’m back in the saddle! Love you all! Linda

  10. Linda, when Winco opened in Logan Utah, I was visiting my son for a few weeks. They had several items on sale for 99cents, including Winco butter….yes a pound for 99cents!! So I would go into the store every few days and get some. I froze it and used that butter for over a year++++

    1. Hi Janet, I better go check out Winco here. Butter and well, everything else has escalated in price. I freeze all my butter, I hope to get a freezer in the new tiny home. I haven’t seen butter that price for years! Great buy! I love bargains! Linda

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