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Butter

The History of Butter

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Butter's origins go back about 10,000 years to the time when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. Today, butter in its many flavourful forms is the world's most popular fat. As a versatile spread, a delicious enhancer for so many foods, and the essential ingredient for baking, butter's simple goodness has no equal...

  • The first reference to butter in our written history was found on a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet illustrating how butter was made.
  • It is generally believed the word butter originates from the bou-tyron, Greek for “cow cheese”, however it may have come from the language of cattle-herding Scythians.
  • Butter was used as food by ancient tribes of Asiatic India, as well as for burning in primitive lamps and smeared on skin to protect from the cold.
  • In early times, unlike today, butter was so costly it was used in religious ceremonies. It still is today in India and Tibet.
  • In ancient Rome, butter was valued cosmetically. Not only was it used as a cream to make skin smooth, but Greeks and Romans massaged it into their hair to make it shine.
  • Much esteemed for its perceived healing properties, butter was also used in poultices to fight skin infections and burns. The ancient Egyptians even valued it as a cure for eye problems.
  • During the T'ang Dynasty in China, clarified butter represented the ultimate development of the Buddha spirit.
  • The ancient Irish, Scots, Norsemen and Finns loved and valued butter so much they were buried with barrels of it.
  • Christian missionaries travelling in central Siberia in 1253 mentioned a traditional fermented drink, kumyss, which was served with generous lumps of butter floating in it.
  • In Northern Europe, in centuries past, butter was credited with helping to prevent kidney and bladder stones as well as eye maladies. (This was probably thanks to butter's vitamin A content.)
  • Sailors in Elizabethan times were guaranteed 1/4 lb of butter a day in their rations, and it was an old English custom to present newlyweds with a pot of this creamy delight as a wish for fertility and prosperity.

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