Cooking with butter

Cooking with butter
While some housewives make it a practice to use butter in cooking of all kinds, there are uses in which other fats are preferable; or, in case butter is desired, there are certain points to be observed in its use. For instance, butter is rendered less digestible by cooking it at a high temperature, as in frying or sauteing; also, it cannot be used to any extent for the frying of foods, as it burns very readily. If it is used for sauteing, the dish is made much more expensive than is necessary, so that in most cases a cheaper fat should be employed for this purpose. In addition, a point to remember is that this fat should not be used to grease the pans in which cakes and hot breads are baked unless it is first melted, because the milk contained in the butter burns easily; after it is melted, only the top fat should be used. When butter is desired for very rich cakes and for pastry, it is usually washed in cold water to remove the milk. To neutralize the sour milk contained in butter that is used for baking purposes, a little soda is sometimes employed. Further economy can be exercised in the use of butter if a little thought is given to the matter. For instance, when butter is melted and poured over meat or fish that has been broiled or over vegetables that have been cooked in a plain way, much of it usually remains in the dish and is wasted. Such butter can be utilized again. Since butter undergoes a change when it is cooked, it should be mixed with cooked foods to flavor them, rather than be subjected to the temperature necessary for cooking.When butter is used for spreading sandwiches, it usually will be found advisable to soften the butter by creaming it with a spoon, but it should never be melted for this purpose.
SERVING BUTTER: When butter is used for the table, some consideration must be given to the serving of it. Probably the most usual way of serving butter is to place a slice of it on a plate and then pass the plate with a knife to each person at the table. The advantage of this method is that each person can take the amount desired and thus prevent waste. However, a still more desirable way of serving butter that is to be passed is to cut it into small cubes or squares or to shape it into small balls and then serve it with a fork or a butter knife. To prevent the pieces or balls of butter from melting in warm weather, cracked ice may be placed on the butter dish with them. Butter cut into cubes or squares may also be served on an individual butter dish or an individual bread-and-butter plate placed at each person's place before the meal is served. Whichever plan is adopted, any fragments of butter that remain on the plates after a meal should be gathered up and used for cooking purposes.
In about the year 1870, through a desire to procure a cheaper article than butter for the poorer classes of France, came the manufacture of the first substitute for butter. Since that time the use of butter substitutes has gradually increased, until at the present time millions of pounds are consumed every year. A certain amount of prejudice against their use exists, but much of this is unnecessary for they are less likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria than the poorer qualities of butter. Then, too, they do not spoil so readily, and for this reason they can be handled with greater convenience than butter.
OLEOMARGARINE: The best substitute for butter and the one most largely used is called oleomargarine, which in the United States alone constitutes about two and 1/2 per cent. of all the fat used as butter. This fat is called by various other names, such as margarine, and butterine, but oleomargarine is the name by which the United States authorities recognize the product. It is made by churning fats other than butter fat with milk or cream until a butterlike consistency is obtained. Originally, pure beef fat was employed for this purpose, and while beef fat is used to a great extent at present, lard, cottonseed oil, coconut oil, and peanut oil are also used. Whatever fats are selected are churned with milk, cream, and, for the finest grades, a considerable percentage of the very best pure butter. After they are churned, the oleomargarine is worked, salted, and packed in the same manner as butter.
The manufacture and sale of butter substitutes are controlled by laws that, while they do not specify the kind of fat to be used, state that all mixtures of butter with other fats must be sold as oleomargarine. They also require that a tax of 10 cents a pound be paid on all artificially colored oleomargarine; therefore, while coloring matter is used in some cases, this product is usually sold without coloring. In such an event, coloring matter is given with each pound of oleomargarine that is sold. Before using the oleomargarine, this coloring matter is simply worked into the fat until it is evenly colored.
RENOVATED BUTTER: Another substitute that is sometimes used to take the place of the best grades of butter is renovated, or process, butter. This is obtained by purifying butter that is dirty and rancid and that contains all sorts of foreign material and then rechurning it with fresh cream or milk. The purifying process consists in melting the butter, removing the scum from the top, as well as the buttermilk, brine, and foreign materials that settle, and then blowing air through the fat to remove any odors that it might contain. Butter that is thus purified is replaced on the market, but in some states the authorities have seen fit to restrict its sale. While such restrictions are without doubt justifiable, it is possible to buy butter that is more objectionable than renovated, or process, butter, but that has no restriction on it.
METHOD OF TESTING BUTTER SUBSTITUTES: Very often oleomargarine and process butter bear such a close resemblance to genuine butter that it is almost impossible to detect the difference. However, there is a simple test by which these substitutes can always be distinguished from butter, and this should be applied whenever there is any doubt about the matter. To make this test, place the fat in a tablespoon or a small dish and heat it directly over the flame until it boils, stirring it occasionally to assist in the melting. If it is oleomargarine or process butter, it will sputter noisily and take on a curdled appearance; whereas, if it is butter, it will melt and even boil without sputtering although it foams to a certain extent.

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