Butter, Butter, Which Is The Better Butter?


Country MoonButter

As you know, I come from a long line of farmers and farmers tend to promote and use their own products. Many of our friends and family either have been or still are dairy farmers so, naturally, we are accustomed to farm-fresh milk and dairy products. Like most everyone I still run the gamut of which is better, natural butter or manufactured margarine. The debate goes on.

Even though they taste very similar, they are very different nutritionally. The main difference is the type of fat in the two. Here is how it breaks down.

Butter is all natural. It is made from milk from cows and consists of butterfat, water and proteins. Although it is pure in form, sometimes preservatives and salts are added to increase the shelf life. Butter is churned from cream until it reaches its solid state. This fact I know firsthand. Whenever I beat pure whip cream I like to get it as thick as possible. One time I pushed my limit a little too far and the whip cream turned to butter right before my eyes. I made butter without even trying. I soon learned that butter is soft at room temperature, liquid at higher temperatures and solidifies in the refrigerator.

Margarine, on the other hand, originated in 1869 as a manufactured substitute for butter. It is prepared from vegetable oils by passing hydrogen gas through the oils to solidify them. Vitamins A and D are added to enhance the nutritional value. Salts, preservatives and artificial color are also added. Margarine has no cholesterol and the saturated fats are less than what is in butter.

Although both are used in cooking, butter usually gets more votes for the better flavor. There is just nothing like good old butter melted on top of popcorn. However, margarine has a longer shelf life. The dairy alternative is also better for baking because of its higher fat content which yields better results such as more tenderness and flakiness in muffins, cookies and other baked goods. One word of caution here, though, whipped butter will not give the same results as regular butter for baking.

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