French butter

French butter

"White, yellow, soft, creamy, smooth, flavored, iodized, salted... butter takes on different forms, textures, colors, and aromas. It is an essential part of French cuisine. It is the favorite food of the French, who consume up to 7.4 kg per year per person.

But what is its history?

It appeared around 4500 BC among the Sumerians, who learned to churn the cream taken from milk. The Romans, rather disgusted by the product and preferring olive oil, used it as a softening cream for the skin or hair.

During the Middle Ages, butter was much more accessible than olive oil, which could only be harvested once a year. It thus became the fat of the poor.

In the 13th century, the "gabelle," a new tax on salt, was introduced. As the peasant world of the time was very poor, they stopped using salted butter and switched to unsalted butter. Except for Brittany, which was the only region in France exempted from this tax and therefore continued to use salted butter.

From the 15th century, butter became highly appreciated by the nobility and transitioned into a luxury product, a symbol of wealth and refinement. It was accompanied by a new table decoration item: the butter dish.

In France, butter had a strong connection with religion because, until the 20th century, as a product derived from the animal kingdom, it was forbidden to consume it during Lent and lean days. It was consumed very little because these periods of prohibition occupied almost two-thirds of the year. To deviate from this rule, one had to request permission to consume butter in exchange for pious actions, such as the construction of the "Tower of Butter" at Rouen Cathedral.

Sweet, semi-salted, or salted? What's the difference?

Butter can be sweet, semi-salted, or salted. Sweet butter is obtained simply by churning cream. For salted or semi-salted butter, a precise proportion of salt is added. Thus, salted butter contains a minimum of 3% salt, while semi-salted butter must contain between 0.5 and 3% salt. It is usually salted with fine salt, but coarse salt crystals can also be used to give it a bit of crunchiness. It's worth noting that the addition of salt to butter was previously used for preservation purposes. Butter, like all fats, is a fabulous flavor enhancer. Today, it comes in various flavors such as spices, herbs, seaweed, mushrooms, and more.

Fine and extra-fine, what's the difference?

Both fine butter and extra-fine butter are made from pasteurized cream. For extra-fine butter, the manufacturing process must take place within 72 hours after milk collection, and the churning must be done within a maximum of 48 hours. The cream used for extra-fine butter must not have been frozen at all, while for the production of fine butter, up to 30% of the cream may have been frozen.

Clarification, a common method among chefs!

Cooks and culinary professionals sometimes have the habit of clarifying their butter. This practice allows the butter to withstand high cooking temperatures, up to 180°C, without turning black.

The benefits of butter: why should we eat it?

A source of lipids

Butter is composed of 80% fat. It mainly contains saturated fatty acids, naturally occurring trans fatty acids, and cholesterol. The health effects of butter consumption are partly due to the lipids it contains. Although it is considered to raise cholesterol levels, its effects are not always consistent. The results of studies vary depending on the sources of fatty acids it is compared with (oils, soft margarine, hydrogenated margarine, etc.) and the subjects being studied (individuals with normal lipid levels versus those with hypercholesterolemia). Studies have shown that butter consumption may be more beneficial for cardiovascular health than the consumption of hydrogenated margarine. Furthermore, while replacing butter with non-hydrogenated margarine may have some advantages, researchers claim that there is no benefit in replacing it with hydrogenated margarine. Finally, researchers have observed that butter may even contribute to an increase in HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol").

Saturated fatty acids on the menu

Saturated fatty acids represent about 60% to 65% of the fat content in butter. They are known to increase total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"). However, saturated fatty acids may slightly increase or have no effect on HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol"). The effects on blood lipids vary depending on the type of saturated fatty acids (short-chain, medium-chain, or long-chain). Palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids, which are medium-chain fatty acids, have a greater influence on LDL cholesterol levels. These three fatty acids represent about two-thirds of the saturated fatty acids content in butter.

Nutritionists' opinion

The recommended daily amount of this food rich in vitamins A and D is 20 grams per day. And when it is lightened, it loses all its virtues! So go ahead! Consume butter without overdoing it."


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