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Butter is a food product, which is made exclusively from milk, cream or both, with or without common salt, and containing at least 80 percent milkfat by weight.
There are two main types of butter produced in the U.S. – sweet cream butter and cultured cream butter. The United States primarily produces sweet cream butter, which includes lightly salted, unsalted and whipped butter.
Salt acts as a preservative and adds flavor to butter. Lightly salted butter is sometimes called "sweet cream butter," and is best used as a table butter and for general cooking needs. Unsalted butter, too, is "sweet butter," but is used mainly for baking. Although unsalted and salted butter may be specifically recommended for cooking or baking particular items, they can generally be substituted for one another.
At Darigold, the quality of our products, and the health and safety of our dairy farmers, employees and consumers, is always our very highest priority.
We are aware of the recent questions that have been raised about the food additive diacetyl. In December of 2007, the Seattle Post Intelligencer tested several products including Darigold butter and this test showed a small amount of diacetyl. Darigold does not add diacetyl to our salted sweet cream butter. The amount found is naturally occurring. Salted butter represents the majority -- more than 80% -- of our consumer butter sales.
Darigold does add a very tiny amount of naturally produced diacetyl in our unsalted butter to preserve freshness and flavor. Experts have reassured us that this does not pose any safety risk.
Nonetheless, we are monitoring the ongoing scientific studies very closely, and are engaged in industry dialogue about diacetyl. Additionally, we are exploring alternative ingredients, should it be determined that diacetyl is not an appropriate product for certain uses.
There is approximately ½ teaspoon of salt in a stick of butter.
Butter is a natural dairy product made by churning or shaking cream until it reaches a semisolid state. Margarine is made from a single oil, or blend of oils, including animal and vegetable fats.
Because butter is a natural product, its performance in cooking and baking is unduplicated, naturally enhancing food flavor and providing a creamy texture.
Clarified butter is a purified, thicker form of butter that’s been melted and has had the water and milk solids separated from the clarified or clear part. Because the water has been extracted, clarified butter will not burn at high temperatures, and therefore is most commonly used as a fat for cooking, or as a base for sauces like Hollandaise and Béarnaise.
To make one pound of clarified butter, you will need about 1 1/4 lbs. of unsalted butter. Melt butter over moderate heat. Stir butter but don’t let it boil; this allows the milk solids to separate from the liquid butter. Upon heating, butter will separate into three distinct layers: foamy milk solids on top, clarified butter in the middle and milk solids on the bottom. As the butter continues to warm, skim froth from the surface and discard. When froth is eliminated, carefully pour off clear, melted clarified butter into another container, leaving the milk solids at the bottom of the saucepan. Discard milk solids. Clarified butter can be used immediately or kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three or four weeks. Re-melt to use.
While unopened butter cartons can be kept at room temperature (about 65°) with controlled humidity (80-85%) for a short time, the American Butter Institute recommends always storing butter in the refrigerator at or below 40°F, or in the freezer, to ensure maximum quality and guard against spoiling.
You can store butter (opened or unopened) up to one month in a refrigerator set at 40° F or colder. Opened butter cartons or unwrapped sticks should always be put in a separate refrigerator compartment or in a covered butter dish to prevent them from absorbing other food odors.
For long-term storage, butter (in any form) can be frozen for up to four months at 20° to 30° F, or up to one year at -10°F. Keep in mind that freezing for longer periods of time may affect the quality of flavor and texture. To freeze, place butter carton or sticks in a plastic freezer bag or wrap tightly with heavy-duty foil. If you’re unsure about whether to use butter that’s been stored, check the coding date marked on each butter container. This represents four months after production, so for best quality, butter should be used by that date.
To thaw butter, place unopened cartons or sticks in the refrigerator. Be sure to thaw only enough for immediate use, or for use within one month. For table butter that’s been stored in the refrigerator, take it out approximately 30 minutes prior to serving for best results.
Today’s creameries use highly controlled production methods. First, fresh, sweet milk is inspected for quality, milkfat content and weight. The cream is then separated and prepared for pasteurization. To pasteurize the cream, it’s heated to at least 161°F for 15 seconds. Ultra-pasteurized milk and ultra-high temperature processed milk are heated to 280°F for at least two seconds. The extreme heat reduces levels of bacteria that can cause cream to spoil and, in turn, increases the refrigerated shelf life of butter.
Once pasteurization is complete, the cream is churned until it becomes solid. The butter is then packaged and ready for distribution to your local supermarket.
Yes. Butter is all-natural and is made by churning, or shaking, cream until it solidifies, but there are many factors to consider when producing butter. Quality standards are high for American creameries, and the U.S. produces one billion pounds of butter annually, making it the world leader in butter production. So, while you can make butter at home in small quantities, for maximum quality and consistency, we recommend looking for your favorite butter in your local supermarket.
Butter has a narrow melting range, 82.4°F to 96.8°F, so it will melt quickly even at low temperatures. To avoid burning, melt butter on low temperature settings and watch carefully.
First, the best way to thaw or soften butter is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator, or remove it from the refrigerator to let it soften at room temperature. But if you put it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften and it over melts, use it for something else such as flavoring vegetables, as a dip, or try whipping it once it re-solidifies to use as a table spread, then refrigerate it immediately and use promptly. Make sure to soften a fresh stick of butter for baking to achieve the right texture.
Printed measurements on sticks of butter make measuring easy and convenient.
Good-to-know butter equivalents are:
Whipped butter contains between 30 and 45 percent air, and should be measured by weight.