Difference Between Butter And Margarine

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What is Margarine?

Margarine is a spread or butter substitute that is made from a blend of vegetable oils, water, emulsifiers, and sometimes other ingredients like salt and artificial flavors. Some margarines may also contain small amounts of dairy-derived ingredients, but many are entirely plant-based. It was originally developed in the 19th century as a less expensive alternative to butter. Margarine can be used in cooking, baking, and as a spread for bread and other foods.

Other ingredients commonly added to margarine include vitamin A, vitamin D, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, anti-spattering agents, preservatives, antioxidants, edible colorants, acidulants, alkalizers, flavorants, and sometimes vitamin E.

Margarine is often formulated to be soft and spreadable at room temperature, making it easy to use as a spread for bread and other baked goods. The flavor of margarine can vary depending on the brand and formulation. Some margarines aim to mimic the taste of butter, while others have a milder, more neutral flavor.

Many modern margarines are designed to have a lower saturated fat content compared to butter. Some are even trans fat-free, depending on their formulation. Margarine can be suitable for people who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, as it is typically free of animal products. It is also an option for those who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.

Margarine can be used in a variety of cooking and baking applications, such as frying, sautéing, and as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, and pastries.

In many parts of the world, margarine has become the best-selling table spread, although butter and olive oil also command large market shares. Margarine is an ingredient in the preparation of many other foods.

What is Butter?

Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and buttermilk. The fat is compressed and chilled into blocks of butter. It can be used directly as a condiment or melted for frying or coating. Butter is also used in baking, such as in classic sponges and pastries, or for enriching sauces.

Butter can be bought salted or unsalted. Salt is used for preservation and flavour, but varies according to the breed of cow and its feed. Butter is one of the most highly concentrated forms of fluid milk. Twenty litres of whole milk are needed to produce one kilogram of butter.

Butter has a rich, creamy, and slightly salty flavor. It has a solid texture at room temperature and becomes soft and spreadable when slightly warmed. It is a source of several vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. It also contains butyric acid, which is believed to have some health benefits.

While butter is primarily composed of fat, it does contain trace amounts of lactose and milk proteins, which may be a concern for individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.

Butter vs Margarine: Key Difference

AspectButterMargarine
SourceDairy product made from creamPlant-based spread made from vegetable oils
FlavorRich, creamy, and slightly saltyMild, sometimes artificial or buttery flavor
TextureSolid at room temperatureUsually soft or spreadable at room temperature
Saturated Fat ContentHighVariable, can be lower if specifically formulated
Trans Fat ContentNaturally occurring in small amountsCan contain trans fats if partially hydrogenated
Cholesterol ContentHighTypically low or zero
Nutritional ProfileRich in vitamins A, D, and E; good source of butyric acidFortified with vitamins A and D; varies by brand
Melting PointAround body temperature (98.6°F or 37°C)Varies depending on formulation
Cooking ApplicationsGreat for baking, sautéing, and fryingSuitable for baking, sautéing, and frying
Flavor EnhancementEnhances the flavor of dishesMay not enhance flavors as effectively
Shelf LifeShorter shelf life due to dairy contentLonger shelf life due to processing
PriceTypically more expensiveGenerally more affordable

Key Takeaways

  • Butter is the dairy product made from churning milk or cream.
  • Margarine is a non-dairy product created as a substitute for butter.
  • Nearly all margarine is salted.
  • Butter is predominantly composed of milk fat, typically containing around 80% fat by weight. The remaining components include water, milk solids, and a small amount of salt in salted butter varieties.
  • Some margarines are fortified with vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, to provide added nutritional value.
  • Manufacturers make margarine from plant-based oils, such as canola oil, palm fruit oil, and soybean oil.
  • Butter is a versatile ingredient and is commonly used in cooking for sautéing, frying, and as a flavor enhancer in various dishes. It is also a fundamental ingredient in baking, where it adds moisture, flavor, and richness to baked goods.
  • While butter is made from the butterfat of milk, modern margarine is made through a more intensive processing of refined vegetable oil and water.
  • Butter comes in two forms salted and unsalted.
  • Most butter sold today is from cow’s milk but butter can also be produced from the milk of buffalo, camel, goat, ewe, and mares.