Butter is a household staple in most American homes. Its versatility makes it an essential kitchen item, not to mention its flavorful addition to baked and cooked food.
Imagine a buttery bowl of generously buttered mashed potatoes!
However, if you have certain allergies, have a lactose intolerance, or are simply curious about a dairy-free life, you might wonder whether butter contains dairy in its composition.
Well, butter comes from milk and is, therefore, dairy. However, unlike other dairy products, butter contains very minimal amounts of lactose, almost undetectable per serving, and can sometimes be considered lactose free, depending on the amount consumed.
Does Butter Have Dairy?
When milk cream is repeatedly churned and turned, it separates into two parts; solid and liquid. The solid part is what we call butter. It is the fat content in milk.
Although butter separates itself from the liquid part of milk, it still contains traces of milk and thus has dairy.
Further processed butter eliminates ilk solids (more evidence that butter contains dairy) to produce a softer and more refined product called ghee.
What is Considered Dairy?
Dairy is anything produced from mammalian milk.
However, milk is a common additive in many recipes, including pastry, dishes such as pasta, etc. When milk is added to another separate food category, it is simply an ingredient. We do not consider foods such as milk cookies, for example, dairy.
Dairy products must come from milk itself. Most people associate dairy only with cow milk, but goat, sheep, and even camel milk are used to create dairy products.
Some common dairy examples include cheese, yogurt, ice cream, yogurt, milk, cream, milk variations, and butter.
Why is Butter Not Considered Dairy?
Once people learn the making process of butter, they automatically decide that butter is not dairy. After all, it is the milk’s separated fat content, right?
While this argument is somewhat correct, it is only partially true. Dairy is anything that comes from milk, regardless of its final appearance or state.
Butter is indeed separated from the liquid milk, yes, but without the milk in the first place, there would be no butter to be extracted. Get our point?
So butter is dairy, even though, very low in milk content.
Main Ingredients in Butter
Before further processing, butter consists of butterfat, milk proteins, milk sugars, and water. However, butterfat is the main ingredient, with 80-90% total content.
Butter also contains various nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
Carotene, for example, is the reason for the butter’s yellow color.
Types of Butter
Processed butter comes in five main types, namely:
- Salted butter– This is the most common type of butter, especially for household use. Salted butter is preferred for its long shelf life thanks to its salt-preservative nature. It is best used for cooking, baking, and even spreading.
- Unsalted butter– Unsalted butter has gained a larger following than salted butter because, with the former, you can control the saltiness of your recipes. Since salted butter is already fixed in taste, you cannot dilute nor reduce the saltiness. However, unsalted butter has a shorter shelf life and is best stored in the refrigerator after use.
- Whipped Butter– This is mixed with air to give it a softer, fuller feel. Since whipped butter has more air content than regular butter, it cannot be used as a direct substitute. It is used more as a table-topping.
- Sweet Cream Butter– Despite the name, sweet cream butter has no added sweetening. It is butter made from fresh pasteurized cream instead of sour or fermented cream used in normal butter.
- Ghee– Ghee or clarified butter is the most refined type of butter. Ghee is butter further processed to remove the milk solids. It, therefore, has a higher fat content than normal butter. It is also softer and could have a stronger color than normal butter.
So Does Butter Have Lactose or Any Milk Protein?
Generally, any dairy product contains lactose. It is the amount that differs from one dairy product to the other.
Butter contains only trace amounts of lactose and milk proteins that are only significant if you consume a high amount of butter.
For example, a cup of butter, around 230 grams, only contains 0.1 grams of lactose.
Usually, one person consumes only 14 grams of butter per sitting, which has an estimated amount of 0.06 grams of lactose.
Lactose intolerant people normally get symptoms after consuming 12 g> of lactose, similar to taking 27 kilos of butter at once, a probable impossibility.
Therefore, butter is safe for lactose-intolerant people.
With that in mind, please remember that every lactose-intolerant person shows symptoms differently. If you notice any irritation or symptoms after consuming butter, kindly stop using it immediately.
Just like lactose, butter contains only trace amounts of milk proteins. For example, a tablespoon of butter (14g) has virtually no protein content.
Is Butter Healthy?
Butter is a high-fat food. It has low amounts of sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is, however, high in calorie content which experts have historically used as evidence against butter’s nutritional value.
However, recent studies have shown butter, in moderate consumption, is highly beneficial when added to one’s daily diet. Here are a few health advantages of using butter:
Butter has a significant amount of calcium and Vitamin D, which are very important in the growth and development of strong bones. Calcium also helps prevent the chances of developing osteoporosis.
Butter contains vitamin A, which is a great nutrient in improving eyesight.
Lower Cancer Chances
The beta carotene in butter is crucial in helping body cells fight cancerous formations, especially in the liver, lungs, and prostate.
Butter contains a nutrient called butyrate which greatly helps in maintaining gut health. Not only does it help with easy digestion, but it also eases gut inflammation, thus reducing bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and other stomach problems.
Unlike margarine and other synthetic oils and fats, butter is easily broken down by the body. Its high-fat content makes it a good cooking option for people avoiding carbohydrates and sugars. It also helps increase metabolism, which leads to weight loss and maintenance.
Recommended Butter for Baking and Spreading
When you go to the store, you might need help finding the right butter for your spreading and baking needs. Here are a few recommendations to help you with your next trip to the grocery store.
An unsalted butter widely celebrated for its consistency, Land O’ Lakes is a great option, especially for baking. It helps produce soft pastries where preferred and has lower fat content than European Style Butter.
Organic Valley Salted Butter
When it comes to spreading butter, the salted type is the best since it provides more flavor to your toast.
Organic Valley Salted Butter is slightly more expensive than regular table butter but is of high quality and has a significantly longer shelf life.
Ghee is undoubtedly better than normal butter as it is softer, more flavorful, has lower lactose content, and has a higher smoking point; a pro for bakers. Ghee is great both for spreading and baking.