Celebrate National Butter Day

Spend a hearty slice of bread through the toaster today, spread it over a generous chunk of butter, and enjoy it melting. Mmmm. Take a hot drink and enjoy. It’s National Butter Day!

Yes, butter finally has its own national recognition day, thanks to the Associated Milk Producers Inc. dairy cooperative in New Ulm, Minn. There have been many self-proclaimed Butter Days in the past, but they have been temporary and regional.

BUTTER BUTTER: Butter consumption in the United States has been on the rise for over a decade. (Courtesy of Dairy Management Inc.)

Sarah Schmidt, vice president of public affairs at AMPI, said the co-op realized the lack of national celebration as it worked on marketing plans last summer for its Dinner Bell-branded butter products Creamery. Staff members searched on Google and found occasional statements for butter, and they also came across other important dairy-related days. June 1 is World Milk Day. Cheese is celebrated on June 4. And the entire month of July is National Ice Cream Month. AMPI also checked the National Day calendar online and nothing was listed.

To clarify further, Butter – no pun intended, they checked with the ultimate source.

“We contacted the American Butter Institute and they confirmed: there was no official National Butter Day recorded,” Schmidt said.

Armed with this knowledge, AMPI staff reached out to people on the National Day calendar and worked with them to establish an official National Butter Day list. You can see it here.

AMPI has chosen November 17 as National Butter Day to mark the upcoming holiday season.

“We thought celebrating butter at the start of the holiday baking and baking season would be fun and very appropriate,” Schmidt said. “Butter is a key ingredient in so many popular dishes and desserts this time of year.”

November 17 is also National Homemade Bread Day.

butter sales graphCOVID-19 IMPACT: The pandemic has forced consumers to hide in their homes and, as a result, cook and bake more. Butter sales benefited from this forced isolation. (Courtesy of Dairy Management Inc.)

“Nothing goes better with bread than butter!” Schmidt adds.

In recognition of National Butter Day, AMPI encourages everyone to celebrate by purchasing butter made in the United States, using it in cooking and baking, and buying candy-rich treats. You can add to the celebration today by posting on social media the hashtag: #NationalButterDay.

Fun facts about butter

Here are several interesting stories and facts about butter, collected from AMPI, the American Butter Institute, and the Butter Journal.

• According to legend, butter was discovered by accident around 9,000 years ago, when a Persian goat herder was carrying milk in animal skin bags along a bumpy road. As the milk slid back and forth it turned into butter. When the goatherd discovered the churned milk, he considered that the milk was wasted. A taste test quickly dispelled that thought.

• Butter was the fat of choice for the tribes of northern Europe. The Greek poet Anaxandrides called the barbarians of the north “butter eaters”.

• Climate likely played a role in regional tastes, as cooler weather in northern latitudes allowed people to keep butter longer.

• In the 12th century, the butter trade was booming in northern Europe. Records show that Scandinavian merchants exported huge amounts each year, making spread a central part of their economy, according to the Butter Journal. Butter was so essential to life in Norway, for example, that the king demanded a full bucket every year as a tax.

• Until the 1600s, the consumption of butter was prohibited during Lent. Without access to cooking oils, preparing meals in the weeks leading up to Easter was a struggle for Christians in northern Europe. Rich people often paid the church a large tithe for permission to eat butter during the month of self-denial. These tithes made it possible to finance the construction of the third tower of the cathedral of Rouen in France – the Tour de Beurre – or the “Tour du Beurre” in French.

• Butter contains up to 80% fat. It is made by churning cream or fresh or fermented milk to separate the fat from the buttermilk. Butter is made up of fat, milk protein and water.

• There are several types of butter. Unsalted butter is good for cooking and baking. Clarified butter, obtained by melting and discarding milk solids and water, is often served as a dip for shellfish and other seafood. Clarified butter does not burn at high temperatures, so it is also a good choice for frying and stir-frying. Cultured butter, made from cultured cream, offers a rich and complex flavor. It is ideal for baking as the low moisture content produces flakier pastries and softer cakes. European-style butter is made from cream that is churned slower and longer. It has a fat content of at least 82%. Whipped butter contains nitrogen gas to create a smooth spread.

• Many recipes recommend bringing the butter to room temperature first so it can mix better with other ingredients. The exception is the pie crust. You need cold butter to make a flaky pie crust.

• Today, the average American consumes 6.3 pounds, or 25 sticks, of butter from cow’s milk annually.

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