The History of Butter
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.