Cooking milk, Butter and butter substitutes



Butter and butter substitutes
BUTTER is the fatty constituent of milk. It is obtained by skimming or separating the cream from milk and churning it in order to make the particles of fat adhere to one another. Butter is used largely in the household as an article of food, for it is one of the most appetizing and digestible forms of fat. To supply the demand for butter, it is produced domestically in the home and on farms and commercially in dairies and large establishments. The principle of all churns used for butter making is practically the same. They simply agitate the cream so that the butter-fat globules in it are brought together in masses of such size as to enable the butter maker to separate them from the buttermilk. Butter is seasoned, or salted, to give it a desirable flavor and to improve its keeping qualities; it is washed, or worked, in order to distribute the salt evenly, to separate from it as much of the curd and other non-fatty constituents of the cream as can be conveniently removed, to bring it into a compact, waxy mass, and to give it texture.
ECONOMICAL USE OF BUTTER: In the home, butter is used on the table and in the cooking of many foods. Hardly any article of food has such general use as this one; in fact, a meal is usually considered to be incomplete without it, both as an accompaniment to bread, rolls, biscuits, or whatever variety of these is used, and as an ingredient in the cooking of some foods that require fat. But butter is not cheap, so that the wise and economical use of this food in the home is a point that should not be overlooked by the housewife. This precaution is very important, it having been determined that butter, as well as other fats, is wasted to a great extent; and still it is true that no other material can be so economically utilized. The very smallest amount of any kind of fat should be carefully saved, for there are numerous uses to which it can be put. Even though it is mixed with other food, it can always be melted out, clarified--that is, freed from foreign substances--and then used for some purpose in cooking. The chief way in which butter is wasted is in the unnecessary and improper use of it, points that a little careful thought will do much to remedy.
FLAVOR AND COMPOSITION OF BUTTER: That the housewife may have an understanding of the food substances found in butter and also learn how to determine the quantity of butter needed for her family, she should become familiar with the composition of this food. The flavor of butter depends to a great extent on the kind of cream from which it is made, both sweet and sour cream being used for this purpose. Of these two kinds, sour cream is the preferable one, because it gives to the butter a desirable flavor. Still, the unsalted butter that is made from sweet cream is apparently growing in favor, although it is usually more expensive than salted butter. The difference in price is due to the fact that unsalted butter spoils readily.
So far as its food substances are concerned, butter is composed largely of fat, but it also contains water, protein in the form of casein, and mineral matter. The quantity of water contained in butter determines to a large extent the weight of butter, since water is heavier than fat; but as only 16 per cent, of water is allowed, butter that contains more water than this is considered to be adulterated. As very little milk is retained in butter, only a small percentage of protein is found in this food. However, a considerable quantity of mineral salts are present, and these make it more valuable than most of the other fats. Because of the nature of its composition--a very high percentage of fat and a low percentage of protein--butter is distinctly a fuel food, that is, a heat-producing food. Of course, there are cheaper fats, some of which are even better heat-producing foods than butter, but as their flavor is not especially agreeable to some persons, they are not used so extensively. In view of the nature of the composition of this food, an ounce of butter a day is the average allowance for each person when the diet of a family contains meat and such other fats as lard, olive oil, etc. At the most, 1/2 pound of butter should be purchased each week for each member of the family for table use, and fats cheaper than butter should be used for cooking purposes.
PURCHASING BUTTER. As in the case of milk, in order that the housewife may judge the quality of the butter she purchases, she will do well to look into the cleanliness and sanitary condition of the dairy that produces it. Too much attention cannot be given to this matter, for if cream becomes contaminated from careless handling, the same contamination is liable to occur in the butter made from it. Butter that is produced in dairies that make large quantities of it usually has not much opportunity to become contaminated before it reaches the consumer, for it is generally pressed into 1-pound prints, and each one of these is then wrapped and placed in a paper carton. On the other hand, the farmer and the dairyman doing a small business do not find it profitable to install the equipment required to put up butter in this way, so they usually pack their butter into firkins or crocks or make it into rolls. When such butter goes to market, it is generally placed in a refrigerator with more butter of the same sort, some of which is good and some bad. As butter absorbs any strong odor present in the refrigerator and is perhaps cut and weighed in a most unsanitary manner, the good becomes contaminated with the bad. While butter of this kind is perhaps a few cents cheaper than that which is handled in a more sanitary way, it is less desirable, and if possible should be avoided by the housewife. In case butter is obtained from a certain farm, the conditions on that farm should be looked into for the same reason that the conditions in a dairy are investigated.
To be able to select good butter, the housewife should also be familiar with its characteristics. In color, butter to be good should be an even yellow, neither too pale nor too bright, and should contain no streaks. The light streaks that are sometimes found in butter indicate insufficient working. As to odor, butter should be pleasing and appetizing, any foreign or strong, disagreeable odor being extremely objectionable. Stale butter or that which is improperly kept develops an acid called butyric acid, which gives a disagreeable odor and flavor to butter and often renders it unfit for use.
CARE OF BUTTER: The precautions that the farmer and dairyman are called on to observe in the making and handling of butter should be continued by the housewife after she purchases butter for home use. The chief point for her to remember is that butter should be kept as cold as possible, because a low temperature prevents it from spoiling, whereas a high one causes it to become soft and less appetizing. The most satisfactory place in which to keep butter is the refrigerator, where it should be placed in the compartment located directly under the ice and in which the milk is kept, for here it will not come in contact with foods that might impart their flavors to it. Should no refrigerator be available, some other means of keeping butter cold must be resorted to, such as a cool cellar or basement or a window box. The way in which butter is bought determines to a certain extent the method of caring for it. If it is bought in paper cartons, it should be rewrapped and replaced in the carton each time some is cut off for use. In case it is bought in bulk, it should never be allowed to remain in the wooden dish in which it is often sold; rather, it should be put into a crock or a jar that can be tightly covered.
Attention should also be given to butter that is cut from the supply for the table or for cooking purposes and that is not entirely used. Such butter should never be returned to the original supply, but should be kept in a separate receptacle and used for cooking. If it contains foreign material, it can be clarified by allowing it to stand after it has melted until this has settled and then dipping or pouring the clear fat from the top. Butter that has become rancid or has developed a bad flavor need not be wasted either, for it can be made ready for use in cooking simply by pouring boiling water over it, allowing it to cool, and then removing the layer of fat that comes to the top. Such butter, of course, cannot be used for serving on the table. Still, consideration on the part of the housewife to just such matters as these will prevent much of the waste that prevails in the household in the use of this food.

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