Dairy Products

Image of different forms of butter included melted butter and cubes of butter

Butter

Natural. Delicious. Nothing added. Butter is completely natural and has been in our diet for thousands of years.

Making butter is a simple process: separate cream from milk, churn the cream until it thickens and add salt. And good cooks know there is no substitute for butter in cooking.

Butter, like all foods, can be incorporated into a healthy balanced diet. One of the key principles of eating well is making sure your diet is balanced with a wide variety of foods. Butter has the unique ability to enhance the flavour of other ingredients. A little butter goes a long way toward enhancing the taste and texture of foods such as wholegrain bread or vegetables, which Australians need to eat more.
The natural flavour of butter is irreplaceable. Whether you’re baking a cake or sautéing vegetables, there’s a type of butter to enhance every food.

Types of butter

Salted Butter

Salted butter is the most common style of butter found in supermarkets.
At most it has 2% salt added after the buttermilk has been drained off.

Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter contains no added salt.
Reduced and low-salt butters have about half the salt you'd expect in regular salted butter.

Cultured Butter

Cultured butter is also known as Danish-style butter.
It has a culture added to the cream before it’s churned and is kept at a controlled temperature (usually overnight) while a slightly acidic flavour develops.
Then, according to European tradition, no salt is added after draining the buttermilk.

Cultured Salted Butter

Cultured salted butter, typically Australian and not European, has salt added with the culture.

Clarified Butter

Clarified butter or ghee, is almost pure milk fat (at least 99.7%) and used mainly in cooking.
This is because it will reach much higher temperatures before it begins to smoke or brown and there's almost no moisture to cause spattering.

Butter Concentrate

Butter concentrate is mostly found in the tropics because of its excellent keeping qualities and high melting point.

Butter Oil

Butter oil is used mainly in the manufacture of ice cream.

Dairy Blends

Dairy blends are a mixture of butter and up to 50% edible vegetable oils, making the mixture spreadable straight from the refrigerator.
Retaining the taste and naturalness of butter, they’re a dairy alternative to margarine.

Reduced-Fat Dairy Spreads

Reduced-fat dairy spreads contain between 30% and 60% in total fat, of which at least half is milk fat.
The remaining ingredients are water, milk proteins, cultures, herbs, spices, gelatin, vitamins, sugar or salt.

Low-Fat Dairy Spreads

Low-fat dairy spreads are table spreads with a total fat and oil level below 30% to which milk, vegetable proteins, flavourings, herbs, spices, vitamins, sugar, gelatin and starter cultures may be added.
These spreads are not recommended for cooking due to their high moisture content.

Nutrition Information

What is in butter?

Butter contains at least 80% milk fat, around 16% water, 1.5–2.0% salt and 2% other milk solids. The fat in butter is approximately 67% saturated, 29% monounsaturated and 4% polyunsaturated. Butter naturally contains a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Emerging research shows CLA may help protect against cancer. 

Butter also contains Vitamins A, D and E, which are essential for healthy eyes (especially night vision), strong bones and healthy skin. 

Artificial colouring is not used in Australia. Salt first found its way into butter as a preservative before refrigeration became an option and is now an accepted flavour in Australian butter.

Part of a balanced diet

Butter, like all foods, can be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet. One of the key principles of eating well is making sure your diet is balanced with a wide variety of foods. Butter has the unique ability to enhance the flavour of other ingredients. A little butter goes a long way toward enhancing the taste and texture of foods such as wholegrain bread or vegetables, which Australians need to eat more. 

Nutrient content

Proximate Composition of Some Australian Butters

Type per 100 g 
Protein 
(g) 
Fat 
(g) 
Carbohydrate 
(g) 
Energy
(kJ) 
Sodium 
(mg) 
Butter Salted   1.1  81.5  0 3036  776 
Reduced salt  1.1  81.5  0 3036  350 
Unsalted  1.1  81.5  0 3036  10 
Dairy Blend  0.5  82.4  0.6 3068  485 
Reduced salt  0.6  82.4  0.6 3068  292 
Reduced fat and
reduced salt 
4.6  44.3  0.1  1713  365 
Source: NUTTAB 2010 - Australian Food Composition Tables: Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Canberra

For more information on the health and nutrition benefits of dairy foods visit our Health pages.

Using butter

All cooks will agree there is no substitute for the unmistakeable flavour and quality of butter. Here are a couple of ideas on using butter. For delicious and easy recipes with butter see The Dairy Kitchen.

Creaming butter and sugar

Soften butter before beginning and beat until smooth and pale before beginning to add sugar. Add the sugar slowly and continue beating until sugar is almost dissolved into the mixture. Beating sugar into butter incorporates and traps air into the cake mixture, the more time and care you take with this the lighter your cake will be!

To evenly distribute spices and flavourings in a cake batter, also cream them with softened butter.

Watch our detailed demonstration.

Baking with Butter

Pastry and scones

Always use chilled butter for making pastry and scones. If it is too soft, the butter will be absorbed by the flour and the crust will be heavy and tough. Butter in pastry not only contributes great taste but it also “waterproofs” the flour particles, which stops the gluten from developing and the mixture becoming tough and elastic. Ensure butter and flour are well combined before adding liquid and you’ll get a crisp and tender result!

Cake making

Use softened unsalted-butter for cake baking. Salted butter can be used but sometimes produces a tougher crumb in a cake.

Ensure all your ingredients (including milk and eggs) are at room temperature before beginning. This ensures even distribution of ingredients and even temperature in the oven.

Butter sauces and cooking tips

Sauté with butter

To sauté with butter, melt butter on a medium heat and only add food items when the butter is frothing, otherwise the butter is absorbed and food becomes soggy rather than crispy.

When sautéing with butter over a high heat, add an equal proportion of oil to the pan to ensure the butterfat does not burn immediately. Otherwise, use clarified butter or ghee which have the milk solids removed.

Steam sauté

Steam sauté to give a burst of buttery flavour to vegetables. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan with vegetables and a small amount of stock, wine or juice. Cover and steam until vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally. Sauces

Red or white wine sauce

For the simplest sauce for meat, add white wine to pan juices after cooking red meat or chicken. Stir over a high heat until reduced to a few tablespoons. Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter to create a rich, buttery taste and glossy appearance.

Brown butter sauce or beurre noisette

Brown butter sauce makes a delicious accompaniment to chicken, fish, vegetables or gnocchi? Simply heat butter gently in a saucepan until it is golden and has a nutty aroma and the solids at the bottom of the pan are golden. Remove from heat immediately and, if desired, add a handful of sage leaves, pine nuts or almonds.

Beurre blanc

Is made by whisking very soft butter into a hot liquid reduction of vinegar and/or wine and even some herbs. Serve immediately so that the butter retains its velvety consistency.

Hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce is typically served on fish and eggs and most famously, Eggs Benedict or Florentine. It is made by whisking a mixture of egg yolks and water with melted butter, over a bain-marie until thickened and creamy, then seasoning with lemon juice.

Bearnaise sauce

Similar to hollandaise sauce but it is made by whisking butter into egg yolks and a reduced mixture of wine, tarragon vinegar, shallots and then seasoning with fresh tarragon. Typically served on steak or fish.

Storing Butter

Always check the use-by date, to ensure natural freshness and quality. Butter is best kept refrigerated at 4˚C, protected from light and sealed in its original container or wrapping until it is used as it readily absorbs odours from other foods.

Butter will keep refrigerated for up to eight weeks, but it is best purchased when required rather than stored.

Butter will soften at 30°C and melt at 35°C. In warmer climates, it is best kept refrigerated. As temperatures rise, the fats in butter slowly oxidise and the butter will become rancid. Properly sealed, butter may be kept frozen for up to 12 months.

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