If you are in charge of doing the grocery, you’ll notice an ever-growing selection of butter and margarine while walking down the dairy aisle. Most people have strong opinion about which one they prefer.
However, do you know the difference between butter and margarine?
Butter is a milk commodity produced by churning milk or butter. The churning cycle splits the butterfat from the buttermilk. Although typically light yellow in color, butter can vary from white to dark yellow based on the diet of the species. And because, at its heart, butter is made from a single ingredient, it can be produced at home.
Margarine is a non-dairy food used as a butter replacement. While initially manufactured from animal fat in the 1800s, today the main ingredients include vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifiers, and some also contain milk. It’s necessary to realize that not all margarine is fair. There are differences between the manufacturer and the standard, and it’s essential to read the mark. Like butter, margarine is not anything that can be made at home.
Unlike butter, standard margarine must also have a minimum fat content of 80% by regulation. Anything less is known to be “spread.” Margarine and spreads sold in the dairy aisle will vary from 10 to 90 per cent of fat. Based on the fat content, the amounts of vegetable oil and water can differ, with those with a greater fat content getting a higher proportion of water. Since the primary component of margarine is vegetable oil, it appears to lack the cholesterol and saturated fat present in butter and has a higher percentage of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. It may, however, include trans fat — although many manufacturers have minimized or completely eliminated this from the product list by using palm oil and palm kernel oil instead.
As far as substituting one for the other is concerned, it is best to follow the recipe, especially when it comes to baking. Margarines with a lower fat content contain more water, which can contribute to stiffer baked goods. So far as the one is better, the best choice is to use anything you want with moderation.