Celebrating Dairy Month: 8 Fun Butter Facts
June means more than just open pools, long days, and summer fun. Here at Epicurean Butter, we’re excited about all those things—but we also love June because it’s National Dairy Month. Dairy is a staple of diets across the world and has been since the agricultural revolutions that changed human culture. From simple milk to the mighty cheese, dairy is everywhere.
Today we want to shed some, sunny, summer-infused light on what is possibly the most versatile, beloved form of dairy available: butter. Whether you use it to grease a pan or if you simply spread some on a slice of toast, odds are you’ve already eaten butter at least once today already. Here are eight delicious butter facts you might not know.
8 facts about butter
1. Butter has an ancient history
While June was established as National Dairy Month less than a hundred years ago, butter’s roots run much deeper than that. Ancient Egyptian texts indicate butter was a part of their culture, and even the Bible makes references to butter as being a food meant for times of celebration. Butter was even medicinal in ancient Rome—used to rub on aching joints and to swallow for cough remedies. The Scandinavians loved butter so much that Europeans once referred to invading Vikings as “butter-eaters”.
2. It’s sasier to make than you think
What better way to celebrate National Dairy Month than making some butter of your own? In simplest terms, butter is the result of whipping heavy cream until butterfat granules begin to form and straining out the liquid (called “buttermilk”) left behind. If 18th-century farmers could do it in wooden churns, you can absolutely pull it off in your kitchen.
That being said, we’re all about simplicity, convenience, and consistency—which is why we have worked to create the chef’s knife of ingredients. You can whip up your own butter (literally), chop your own herbs, and grind your own spices to create flavored butter to enhance your food. But that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s 2022, and we know what you want: homemade, but make it easy.
3. The cow impacts the color
Without the noble cow, there wouldn’t be any butter to speak of, let alone a dairy month at all. You might be surprised to know that the meals dairy cows eat have a significant effect on the butter produced from their milk. The more Carotene a cow ingests (from foods like hay and grass) the more yellow in color the butter is. However, some butter makers do add a bit of yellow dye to give butter the hue you’re used to seeing.
4. That’s a lot of milk!
A staggering one-third of all milk produced in the world (544 million metric tonnes in 2021 alone!) goes to making butter. This is mainly because butter is highly concentrated—it takes 21 pints of milk to make just one pound of butter.
5. France + butter = amour
Although dairy month may be an American concept, historically speaking, the French have been raving butter fans for much longer. In the 18th and 19th centuries, expensive butter was wildly popular in Paris. One common variant was “perfumed butter,” which was made by layering butter with dried flowers. You could say that was truly the beginning of flavored butter.
In the 1860s, butter had become so popular in France that it was becoming scarce. This matter was so serious for the country that Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte III offered a sum of prize money for anyone who could come up with an inexpensive substitute for the dwindling supply. Thus, in 1869, a French chemist would go on to invent margarine and win the money. Maybe the emperor couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter either!
6. It wasn’t always about cows
As strange as it might seem to us now, butter wasn’t always made from cow’s milk. In fact, the earliest known forms of butter were made from the milk of sheep, goats, and yaks. Even more bizarre by today’s standards, camel milk and mare’s milk were used to make butter dating back thousands of years!
7. The art of butter
Many people may already know that butter sculptures have been a major part of the Minnesota state fair for generations. But did you know that the idea of butter as art has a much longer history than that? Butter carving was an ancient art form in Babylon and Tibet. The oldest properly documented butter sculptures were from 14th century Europe, where they were used as table decorations.
8. Garlic butter: a classic
We might consider garlic butter to be both mostly an Italian invention, and fairly modern at that. However, wooden firkins of garlic butter have been found on archaeological digs in Ireland. It was common to bury casks of garlic butter to age it for increased flavor, and there have been some casks of it found dating back as far as the 11th century.
Celebrate with us
This year, celebrate National Dairy Month by experimenting with all of the amazing flavors and food you can create with this one simple ingredient.
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