History of Butter - A Brief Journey

Butter has been part of our diet for a long time and we wouldn't trade it for anything, much less when on toast or hot bread. Essential element for cooking food and for baking cakes and sweets, butter is a part of us and our daily diet.

We consume it daily and it tastes so good.

We live in a global era in which consumption and easy access to things is fostered, in which to obtain any product or food we desire we only need access to a commercial area, where a wide range of products is available at any time. There is no need to think about things and how they are produced, what is their source or how they were found. The products exist and are accessible.

However, this has not always been the case and history reminds us of this.

How was butter invented? Where does butter come from? When did we start using butter? 

The answer to the question of where it comes from is obvious: it is a by-product of milk, mainly cow's milk. It appears to have been discovered shortly after the domestication of livestock animals and the use of their milk for human consumptions, still in prehistory.

The butter was discovered by a mere accident that revealed its existence.

One of the hypotheses that is speculate is that the milk has been preserved for too long, long enough to create a cream that, when beaten, culminated in a creamy texture that we call butter.

Another hypothesis, also likely to have contributed to the emergence of butter, tell us about the preservation of milk in a bag of animal skin and its transport in very long distances, which eventually transformed into the cream that we all know.

Whatever the way that allowed its discovery, the reality is that we never stopped using it.

In fact, the first reference to butter dates back about 4500 years and is evidenced by the discovery of a Sumerian board in the ancient Mesopotamia, where the steps for its manufacture are ilustrated. Another example of this ancient practice was the discovery of 3500 years old butter, found in Ireland, buried and preserved in pead marshes.

The Bible itself contains numerous references to butter. At the beginning of the christian age, butter was produced mostly in India and transported to the Middle East.

As far as butter production in Europe is concerned, it is believed that it started in the Nordic countries. Around the XII century. Scandinavian butter was seen by other people as a high value product, making it highly valuable in the commercial market.

Its production was mainly artisanal until the XIX century.

After the advent of the industry, with the emergence of factories and equipment that made it possible to separate the cream from the milk quickly and efficiently, the butter began to be produced on a large scale, Portugal was one of the main importers of Irish butter, a relationship that lasted from the XII to XVIII century, with the Portuguese supplying salt for butter production to the largest European producers. Portuguese industrial production of butter developed mainly during the XX century.

Esta produção continua a desenvolver-se até hoje agora com a aposta em mercados de diferentes tipos de manteigas como a manteiga ghee. A AzorGhee é um exemplo de produtores de manteiga ghee, sendo o primeiro a produzi-la em Portugal, mais especificamente nos Açores.

Butter has been a part of our diet for a long time, and we won't trade it for anything. An ancient and lasting relationship with something that is part of peoples, their culture, their ways of life and their nourishment.

We consume it daily and it tastes so good.

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