How to tell if your butter comes from a cow

You would think that if something is labelled butter, then it would be just that, but it seems that a margarine has been misrepresented as butter.

Author : Jane F. Ragavan 

So how do you tell if that pack in your shopping basket is real butter? Here’s a rough guide.


1. First, butter is made from cow’s milk. (Butter can also be made from yak, buffalo and camel milk, but we’re focusing on your everyday butter here!)

Read the ingredients on a pack of natural butter and the list will be short – it should simply say cultured cream or milk (sometimes, though, salt is included).

If that familiar block you find in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket says “butter” but you find “vegetable oil(s)” in the list of ingredients, what you’re holding is probably margarine.

2. A good indicator is often the price: pure cream or milk will be more expensive than substitutes.


3. “Real butter products” or “butter blends” contain cream but other ingredients as well. Packaging with Malay words will often be labelled as “lepa susu”. Included in this category are products such as light butter, which often has only half the calories of butter and contains stuff like water, buttermilk (the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream), and food starch, plus a host of food additives and stabilisers such as tapioca maltodextrin (processed from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat), lactic acid and xanthan gum (both chemically produced).

4. The colour of butter is pale yellow, which is caused by the natural pigment carotene and comes from the cow’s natural diet. Real butter is not bright yellow or intensely white.

5. Butter shouldn’t have a very long shelf life – if it does, that’s probably because it contains preservatives. Salted butter will last a little longer than unsalted. Over here in Malaysia, it’s best to keep butter chilled. It will usually keep for a month after the “sell by” date stored in the refrigerator in its insulated wrapper or a covered butter dish. Unwrapped blocks of butter can also be frozen for up to nine months. Place them in a heavy-duty plastic bag or wrap in cling film before putting them the freezer.

6. Texture: While still cold, butter should be firm when pressed. After a few minutes out of the fridge, the butter will be softer and more pliable – you could make a dent in the surface with your thumb – but not so soft that you could scoop it with a spoon.

7. When cut, butter (straight from the fridge) should come off in clean slices and not be crumbly. Frozen butter will still be hard, however, so let it rest at room temperature for a little while. Or you could leave it in the fridge overnight before using.

8. Real butter melts evenly. There should not be droplets of water on the surface.

9. Cakes that are made with butter will harden when they’re stored in the fridge, but will soften after resting at room temperature. On the other hand, cakes that contain margarine tend to remain soft even when chilled.

Source : Star2.com