Butter must be kept in a cool place, between 41˚F/6˚C and 50˚F/10˚C, to prevent it from going rancid. It usually has a dedicated space in the fridge door. It is best to leave it in its original packaging or in an air-tight butter dish. Butter tends to capture smells from other foods in the refrigerator. It is recommended to take butter out of the fridge several minutes before using it, so that it is not too cold. It is also recommended to consume it within 3 weeks, to benefit from all its organoleptic qualities. Butter can be frozen at 0˚F/-18˚C.
Be it yellow or white, butter contains 82% of fat. The yellow color is the result of beta-carotene, which is naturally found in milk and transforms into vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is found in grass fed to cows: the more the cow eats the grass, the more the butter will be yellow. Consequently, butter has a golden hue in the spring, during which cows eat new grass. Summer butter is also richer in vitamin D: it is synthesized by the cow when it is exposed to the sun, which in turn is found in the milk and the butter.
The term “light butter” is regulated by law. Since butter is 82% fat, light butters must contain 41% and 62% fat. The fatty material stems from the milk alone. Below 41% of fat, the product is no longer considered butter.
Brown butter, or beurre noisette is regular butter that has been cooked long enough to toast the milk solids, turning them brown, while cooking out any water present in the butter. Brown butter has a deeply nutty, toasted, rich flavor. It can be used in both sweet and savory applications.
One must simply melt it in a pot, whisking from time to time: the water naturally contained in the butter will evaporate and the caseins (milk proteins) and the lactose (milk sugar) will then react. This is known as the Maillard reaction.
As for “double brown” butter, it is prepared using whey from clarified butter: reduce this whey filled with caseins and lactose that will react after the water has evaporated, then lower the cooking temperature using cold butter and a little bit of water to make an exquisite sauce with concentrated flavors, and even a froth of double brown butter.
When the temperature exceeds 122F˚/50˚C, butter becomes completely liquid and it starts to color at 212˚F/100˚C. Beyond that, its color changes depending on the cooking time, the quantity and the type of products added to the pan.
Butter and margarine have the same fat content: 82%. However, margarine contain trans-fats, which raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
A simple and natural ingredient, butter is made from the fat of the milk, the cream. So, what gives it such a unique texture? It takes 22 liters of full-fat milk to produce one kilo of butter, and the production method has barely changed since 4500 BC. The cream is churned and then beaten until its fat globules collect to form small yellow grains, which naturally separate from the buttermilk. The grains of butter are washed in pure water to remove the buttermilk, then kneaded to create an emulsion (a mixture of two or more liquids), which produces a smooth and consistent butter. French butter's texture and low water content make it perfect for baking.
Yes, butter is not the same color in winter and spring. This is related to the fodder given to cows. If they graze fresh grass, the milk will have a high carotene content and will have a distinctive yellow color.
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