This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
A number of patents have been taken out for making artificial butter, or imitations. The first was by a French chemist, Ilippolyte Mege, in 1870. He was employed on the Imperial farm at Yincennes, and invented Oleomargarine, which is based on the particular observation that cooked fat is granulated, therefore hard and brittle; butter is not, and therefore butter could be made out of beef fat, not cooked, but worked at the ordinary temperature of the cow's body. That is what oleomargarine is yet. The fat is made warm in steam tanks, pressed by hydraulic pressure which divides it into stearine, which remains in the sacks, and butter oil, which is pressed out, and this is churned either with milk for present use, the milk improving the flavor, or with water if long keeping is the object in view. There are various details, such as the dividing the butter oil into fine particles ready for the churning with milk, but in substance that is all there is in oleomargarine. If cleanly made it is as good as ordinary butter. The outcry against it has been from the makers of real butter.
The only objection really sound was the selling a cheaply produced article at the high price of best butter by passing it off as butter; but that has been pretty effectually stopped, and "margarine," as the name now is, goes on its own merits, and the trade in it is constantly increasing. Butterine was different, being a mixture of lard and butter; ostensibly, but extreme uncertainty may well be supposed to exist in the composition of it when the following patents are consid-dered.
A patent was taken out in 1876 for making artificial butter from oleine, margarine from fruit and vegetable nuts, lactic acid and loppered milk. "Edible Fat," with chemicals; patent 1877. Heating suet at 140, with salt, saltpeter, borax, boracic acid, salycilic acids, withdrawing the separated fat and incorporating therewith a second and smaller charge of the above chemicals, with the addition of benzoic acid. Patent for Preserving Real Butter (i880) by incorporating with it meta-phosphoric acid.
Patent 1881 for adding alkali to oleomargarine, "agitating the mixture until partial saponification ensues, then adding butyric acid".
Patent 1882 for combination of beef-suet oil, cotton-seed oil, beef-stearine and slippery elm bark.
Patent 1882 for combination of lard oil and cotton-seed oil, "deodorized and purified by slippery elm bark and beef stearine".
Patent 1882 for combination of vegetable stearine from nut or cotton oil pressed cold, with oleomargarine, and churning.
Patent 1882 for combination of oleomargarine and leaf lard, subjected to washing action in water, borax and nitric acid;then re-washed andchurned.
Patent 1882 for artificial butter made by minutely dividing leaf lard, melting, covering, salting down for 3 days, mixing it with lukewarm buttermilk, clarified tallow and little pepsin; adding half its weight of real butter, and working in cold water.
Patent 1886 for putting into a churn 8 lbs. butter, 1 gallon sweet milk, 1 oz. liquid rennet, 25 grains (troy) of nitrate of potash, 1 oz. sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of butter-coloring; churning all, and working.
Milk and butter warm can be mingled by stirring together gradually; the additions specified are to make the combination hold when cold. - Notwithstanding the possibilities outlined in these patents, there is very little more than a local practice of the methods. Oleomargarine is the same as Mege invented in 1870, viz.: beef fat melted or cooked at 150 degrees; the oil pressed out and churned with milk. Butterine is a mixture of the above with leaf lard salted, colored and churned, the milk it is churned with giving the butter flavor. State commissioners have reported favorably upon the products of the large factories where fresh fat from the slaughter-houses is of necessity the material used.
The following simple method has been suggested for approximately judging of the purity of a specimen of butter: Melt the butter, and then cool it as rapidly as possible by means of some ice-cylinder put into it. Lard, which is a copious constituent of butterine, will sink to the bottom, and any genuine butter will rise, while there will be a distinctly visible zone or line of contact between the two.
Washing in cold water till free from buttermilk, salt and sugar added in equal quantities, and packed in jars and kept cold it will keep fresh for a year.
There is a qual -itative test for butter so simple that any housewife can put it into successful practice. A clean piece of white paper is smeared with the suspected butter. The paper is then rolled up and set on fire. If the butter is pure the smell of the burning paper is rather pleasant; but the odor is distinctly tallow if the "butter" is made up wholly or in part of animal fats.