A Background Check for: Butter

Food & Business Tips

Butter has been around for at least the last 4000 years. The word butter comes from the Greek word “bou-tyron” meaning cow’s cheese. In the ancient world, butter may have come from the milk of many different animals including yaks and camels.It is believed the origin of butter may come from someone having filled an animal skin with milk before a journey and agitating the skin so much along the way that by the time the traveler had reached his destination he discovered a skin full of butter. This practice is still in use in some parts of the world; skins are filled with milk and swung on tent poles until the butter is churned.

We find references to butter throughout history including ancient Egyptian artifacts and throughout the Bible. While we may associate garlic butter with the cuisine of Italy, one of the most common archeological finds throughout Ireland are barrels of ancient garlic butter buried in peat bogs. Some of these ancient barrels go back over ten centuries and could weigh as much as a hundred pounds.

Even in this country the standards were set for butter by congress in 1886 and have not changed much since. Although the making of butter was looked upon as a process taking place in most homes, around 1860 machines were put in place to industrialize the butter industry. France had a reputation for its fine butter especially from Normandy and Brittany. In the 1860’s the demand was so high Napoleon III offered a reward for a butter substitute to make up for the short fall. This led to the invention of margarine which was originally beef tallow flavored with milk, but that is another story……

Robert Stegall-Smith; CEC, ACC

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