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manufactured substitute for butter. It consists of a blend of vegetable oils or meat fats (or a combination of both) mixed with milk and salt. It was developed in the late 1860s by the French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouries in a contest sponsored by Napoleon III for a butter substitute. Beef fat, known as oleo oil, was chiefly used at first, but later was supplemented by pork and other animal fats and by vegetable oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and cottonseed oil. At present, most margarines contain only vegetable oils; the margarine produced in the United States is usually made from corn, cottonseed, or soybean oil. The oils, refined, deodorized, and hydrogenated to the desired consistency, are churned or homogenized, usually with cultured skim milk, then chilled and reworked to incorporate salt and remove excess water. Margarine is similar in composition to butter, yields practically the same number of calories, and is easily digestible. It is commonly fortified with vitamin A and vitamin D. In the 1960s a new type of margarine was developed made of polyunsaturated fats (see cholesterolcholesterol
, fatty lipid found in the body tissues and blood plasma of vertebrates; it is only sparingly soluble in water, but much more soluble in some organic solvents. A steroid, cholesterol can be found in large concentrations in the brain, spinal cord, and liver.
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). Margarine is sometimes called oleomargarine.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a food product made of a mixture of vegetable oils, animal fats, milk, flavoring, and aromatic and other agents. Margarine is similar to butter in physical properties, chemical composition, taste, and nutritional value (see Table 1).

The human body can assimilate various fats to different degrees (margarine, 94-97.6 percent; butter, 93-98.5 percent; lard, 96-98 percent; beef fat, 80-94 percent; sunflower oil, 86-91 per-cent; and olive oil, 90-95 percent). There are three types of margarine: dairy, cooking, and powdered margarines. Dairy margarine is an emulsion of fat and milk used as food and in cooking (cream, table, and lemon margarines and superior-grade margarines). Cooking margarine is a mixture of vegetable oils and animal fats, without added milk and water, used in the food industry and in cooking (confectionery fat and Margaguselin [a Soviet trade name]). Powdered margarine is used in the manufacture of food concentrates and for the preparation of food out-of-doors.

Margarine was first produced in 1869, when a product similar to butter was prepared in Western Europe from a base of animal fat and milk. In prerevolutionary Russia, several attempts to produce margarine proved unsuccessful. The product obtained in prerevolutionary Russia’s inadequately equipped enterprises was of a low grade, and there was no consumer demand. In the USSR margarine production was begun in 1928 at the Fritiur plant in Leningrad and at the Steol plant in Moscow. By 1935 ten plants were turning out a total of 90,000 tons of margarine per year. In 1972, production had reached about 845,000 tons.

The primary raw materials used in margarine production include natural and hydrogenated vegetable oils (sunflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils), animal fats (beef, mutton, pork, bone), and hydrogenated blubber. The fats are refined and deodorized to yield a light-colored product of low acidity, free of the taste and odor characteristic of each type of fat. Milk added to the margarine is completely or partially soured by

Table 1. Chemical composition and caloric value of margarine and butter
 Chemical composition (percent)kcals1 per 100 g
1Kilocalorie = 4.19 Kilojules
Cream and table margarine...............15.70.582.
Unsalted butter...............15.40.582.50.10.10781

lactobacillic cultures to add the necessary flavor and aroma. Emulsifiers are used to form a water-in-oil emulsion. (Dry milk or a phosphatide food concentrate obtained from vegetable oil can serve this purpose.) Table salt (0.2-0.7 percent) and sugar are added to improve the flavor. Cocoa, coffee, vanillin, and lemon extract are often used as additives in special kinds of margarine (chocolate, coffee, and lemon margarines). Natural food colorings, butter, cream, aromatic food substances, and vitamins can also be added to give the margarine the necessary color and aroma and to increase its biological value.

Fats, milk, emulsifier, and aqueous solutions of other ingredients are blended and emulsified during the production of dairy margarine. After cooling, the emulsion solidifies into margarine. The manufacture of cooking margarine involves the preparation, portioning, and blending of the ingredients, followed by the cooling and crystallization of the fatty mixture. Powdered margarine is prepared by atomizing and drying the emulsion in a centrifugal drying tower.


Tekhnologiia pererabotki zhirov, 4th ed. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


[′mär·jə·rən or ′mär·gə·rən]
(food engineering)
An emulsified food fat product composed of processed vegetable oils or animal fats or both, cultured milk, salt, and emulsifiers.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.