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dairy product obtained by churning the fat from milk until it solidifies. In most areas the milk of cows is the basis, but elsewhere that of goats, sheep, and mares has been used. Butter was known by 2000 B.C., although in ancient times it was used less as food than as an ointment, medicine, or illuminating oil. At first it was churned in skin pouches thrown back and forth or swung over the back of trotting horses. Later, various hand churns were devised, including rotating, swinging, and rocking containers operated by plungers. Butter-making on the farm consists of allowing the milk to cool in pans, letting the cream rise to the top, skimming the cream off, and letting it ripen by natural fermentation; it is then churned. Exclusively farm-made until about 1850, butter has become increasingly a factory product. The centrifugal cream separatorseparator, cream,
dairy machine used to separate fresh whole milk into cream and skim milk. Formerly the separation was made by the gravity method, allowing the cream to rise to the top of a pan and then skimming it off. C. G.
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, introduced into the United States c.1880, and a method devised in 1890 by Stephen Moulton BabcockBabcock, Stephen Moulton
, 1843–1931, American agricultural chemist, b. Bridgewater, N.Y., grad. Tufts College (B.A., 1866), Univ. of Göttingen, Germany (Ph.D., 1879). He was, from 1887 to 1913, professor of agricultural chemistry at the Univ.
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 to determine the butterfat content of milk and cream gave impetus to large-scale production. The application of chemistry and bacteriology facilitates the making of butter of uniform quality. The percentage of fat extraction and the time required for churning depend on the composition of the butterfat (see fats and oilsfats and oils,
group of organic substances that form an important part of the diet and also are useful in many industries. The fats are usually solid, the oils generally liquid at ordinary room temperatures.
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); the temperature, acidity, richness, and viscosity of the cream; the speed and motion of the churn; and the size of the fat globules. Commercial butter usually contains from 80% to 85% milk fat, from 12% to 16% water, and about 2% salt. Sweet, or unsalted, butter is favored in Europe, but other markets prefer at least 2% salt. Renovated or process butter is made from rancid or inferior butter, melted and refined, then rechurned. Whey butter, made from cream separated from whey, is usually oily and of inferior quality. The natural color of butter, derived from the carotene in green fodder, ranges from pale yellow to deep gold. The European Union, with France, Germany, and the Netherlands leading the way, is the world's leading butter producer, followed by the republics of the former Soviet Union, India, and the United States. The EC, New Zealand, and the United States are the chief exporters; and the republics of the former Soviet Union and Great Britain are heavy importers. Wisconsin, California, and Minnesota are the leading producers in the United States, with an output of 1.3 billion pounds of butter in 1991. Clarified butter, butterfat with the milk solids removed, is useful in cooking and has good keeping qualities. It is made in quantity in Egypt and in India, where it is known as ghee. The dietary value of butter is due to its large proportion of easily digested animal fat and to its vitamin A and vitamin D content. Consumption of butter has dropped, however, because the high animal fat content has been identified as a contributor to obesity and heart disease.



(cow butter), a food product; a concentrate of butterfat (78-82.5 percent, depending on the type; in clarified butter, about 99 percent).

Butterfat has distinctive valuable biological qualities and flavor. It contains an optimally balanced complex of fatty acids and a considerable quantity of phosphatides and fat-soluble vitamins. It has a low melting point (32°-35°C) and is easily assimilated by the body (up to 95 percent). It also contains the proteins, carbohydrates, water-soluble vitamins, minerals, and water of milk (this, the nonfat part of butter, is called the plasma). As a whole, butter is highly assimilable and has a high caloric value. Specifically, the caloric value of Vologda butter is 730 kilocalories per 100 g, or 3.06 megajoules per 100 g. Creamery butter is a practical source of vitamin A (an average 0.6 milligram percent [mg percent]). Grass (summer) butter also contains 0.17-0.56 mg percent carotene. Creamery butter contains vitamin D (in summer butter, 0.002-0.008 mg percent; in hay, or winter, butter, 0.001-0.002 mg percent). Butter contains 2-5 mg percent tocopherols and is an important source of phosphatides (up to 400 mg percent).

The butters produced in the USSR include creamery butter (salted, unsalted, Vologda, Liubitel’skoe, and butter with additives), canned butter, and clarified butter. Unsalted, salted, and Liubitel’skoe butters are produced either from fresh cream (sweet butters) or, to add a special flavor and aroma, from fermented lactic acid stock (cultured butters).

The main types of butter produced in the USSR are the sweet butters, for which cream is pasteurized at 85°-90°C. Vologda butter is made from fresh cream pasteurized at 97°-98°C. Liubitel’skoe butter has a higher water content than other creamery butters (20 percent; in other butters, 16 percent; in clarified butter, 1 percent) and a higher content of certain nonfat substances. Butters with additives are made from fresh cream with flavor supplements and aromatic substances added, such as cocoa, vanilla, and sugar (chocolate butter); natural fruit and berry juices and sugar (fruit butter); and honey (honey butter). Canned butter is produced by the special processing of creamery butter or fresh high-fat cream. Clarified butter is butterfat that has been clarified from creamery butter and that has had the impurities removed. Creamery butter is produced basically by two methods: by churning 30-45-percent creams and by converting high-fat creams.

The quality of butter is judged on the basis of composition and organoleptic indexes (taste and consistency). The evaluation of organoleptic indexes is done on a 100-point system. Depending on the number of points, the butter is classified as top or prime grade.

Some countries produce not only cow butter but also butter made from yaks’ milk (the Mongolian People’s Republic) or zebu milk (India, Africa).


Sink, V. I. Proizvodstvo masla. Moscow, 1969.
Spravochnik po molochnomu delu. Moscow, 1968.
GOST37-55—Maslo korov’e..



(food engineering)
A fatty food product made from milk or cream or both and consisting of a solid emulsion of fat globules, air, and water.


1. To smooth on plastic roofing cement or roofing adhesive with a trowel, as on a flashing.
2. To apply mortar as to a masonry unit, with a trowel.
References in classic literature ?
Medlock had bought a lunchbasket at one of the stations and they had some chicken and cold beef and bread and butter and some hot tea.
Put a piece of butter the size of your thumb into the frying-pan.
Then she took some butter (not too much) on a knife and spread it on the loaf, in an apothecary kind of way, as if she were making a plaister - using both sides of the knife with a slapping dexterity, and trimming and moulding the butter off round the crust.
It was the BEST butter,' the March Hare meekly replied.
Now this Mussulman was employed by the Sultan, and furnished his table with oil and butter.
The manner of their swearing is this: they set a sheep in the midst of them, and rub it over with butter, the heads of families who are the chief in the nation lay their hands upon the head of the sheep, and swear to observe their promise.
Mother, Mother, there has been an old man rat in the dairy--a dreadful 'normous big rat, Mother; and he's stolen a pat of butter and the rolling-pin.
For a hundred francs a year, she cooked and did the housework, washed, ironed, mended, harnessed the horse, fattened the poultry, made the butter and remained faithful to her mistress--although the latter was by no means an agreeable person.
But one gets only a confused notion of these details when they surround a distractingly pretty girl of seventeen, standing on little pattens and rounding her dimpled arm to lift a pound of butter out of the scale.
Sylvie coloured crimson, as she shook off the butter from her frock: but she kept her lips tight shut, and walked away to the window, where she stood looking out and trying to recover her temper.
One can walk along at one's leisure behind that cow--keep good company, and have milk, butter, and cheese, every day, into the bargain.
The churn revolved as usual, but the butter would not come.