( from the Net)
" The Case for Butter
by Trauger Groh, Farmer and Lecturer
Butter and Honey shall He eat that He may know to
refuse the evil and choose the good
-- Isaiah 7:15
The use of butter for human nutrition and the processing of milk
into cream and then butter is as old as the keeping of cattle as
domestic animals. It goes back to prehistoric times. The process is
simple and has been in use for thousands of years. Raw milk is put
into vats and placed in a cool place. After twenty-four hours, most
of the cream rises to the surface and can be skimmed off with a flat
spoon,owing to the fact that the fat globules are the lighter part
of the milk. Traditionally, the cream is then fermented by acid
producing germs. This process takes about 24 to 36 hours in the summer.
When it is completed, the sour cream is mechanically beaten with
wooden tools until the butterfat globules stick together and the
protein-carrying liquid -- the buttermilk -- is released. Then the but-
ter is washed thoroughly to get out all remaining protein particles.
Finally, the butter is kneaded to get out as much water as possible,
salted and formed.
Since man began to make and use butter, he made it from ripened
matured cream -- sour cream. A change to unsoured or sweet cream butter
came only in the forties of this century. The reasons for the change
were purely technical. Machines work most economically and profitably
when they run permanently. Buttering machines were constructed that
transformed sweet cream endlessly into butter. Sour cream at this time
resisted this process. You had to fill the churn with one batch of
sour cream, finish buttering, clean the churn and start again. Thus
for purely technical reasons, people became used to sweet cream butter.
The standard book about butter making from 1915, Principles and
Practise of Butter Making by McKay and Larson, does not even mention
sweet cream butter. Here is what the authors say about making butter:
To Produce Flavor and Aroma: The chief object of cream-ripening
is to secure the desirable and delicate flavor and aroma which are so
characteristic of good butter. These flavoring substances, so far as
known, can only be produced by a process of fermentation. It is a well
known fact that the best flavor in butter is obtained when the cream]
assumes a clean, pure, acid taste during the ripening. For this reason,
it is essential to have the acid-producing germs predominate during the
cream ripening; all other germs should if possible be excluded or sup-
pressed. ... When cream has been properly ripened, it is practically a
pure culture of lactic-acid-producing germs, while sweet unpasteurized
cream contains a bacterial flora, consisting of a great many types
of desirable and undesirable germs.
Here a very important point is touched on: lacto-acid-producing
-- very helpful for our digestion -- are able to suppress all other
unwanted, even pathogenic, germs. Lactic acid fermentation is far super-
ior to the heating of milk (pasteurization) in suppressing pathogenic
germs. The pasteurization of the milk dramatically changes the fine
composition of the raw milk. Even warming to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
alters this fine composition that includes various proteins, vitamins,
sugars and enzymes.
Homogenization destroys the butterfat globules so much that the cream
can no longer rise in the milk. The milk is denaturalized.
Buttering cream is, as we have seen, a purely mechanical process.
The quality of the cream is the deciding factor, and this means that the
cream should be properly ripened and contain a preponderance of lactic-
acid producing germs. The cream ripening is usually achieved with the
help of a starter. Besides a pure culture obtained by a laboratory, we
can use as a natural starter a great many dairy products which are
supposed to contain a preponderance of those germs which are involved
in producing the desirable flavor in butter: buttermilk, sour cream,
whey, sour whole or skimmed milk. A great advantage of sour cream
buttering is that it produces, besides the butter, the refreshing and
highly digestible buttermilk. The buttermilk coming out of modern sweet
cream buttering tastes, like the butter, flat and cannot be used for
human consumption. True buttermilk is no longer on the market. What is
on the market under this name is not the result of the buttering process
of sour cream. It is usually pasteurized skimmed milk, fermented with
a laboratory culture.
At the beginning of this century we still had experienced old country
medical doctors. When they were called to a baby that had an intolerance
of cow’s milk, they often gave the farmers the advice to separate a cow
from the herd and to feed her only good hay -- no grain, no silage
(which was not in use anyway), no mangels or rutabagas -- and feed the
child with the milk of this cow. Most babies then could digest this milk
. If in some cases the child could not take this milk, it was recommend-
ed to feed the child buttermilk from farm-produced butter. I experienced
such a case in my youth where a starving child was helped that way.
The point I want to make here is that the quality of the butter depends
on the quality of the cream and its proper fermentation. The quality of
our cream depends on the quality of the milk and the quality of the milk
depends on the way the animals are fed on the farm. As it is usual in
this country, cows that are fed with concentrates containing grain and
soy, in addition to large amounts of corn silage and with only a little
hay, produce large amounts of milk -- 20,000 pounds and more per year.
But they have constant light diarrhea and often have diseased livers,
a fact that shows up only in the slaughterhouse. Their milk is of a
totally different quality than the milk of a cow fed with grass and hay.
Their lives are ended on the average within five or six years instead
of twelve to fifteen years that a properly fed cow can reach. After the
suffering of the cow comes the suffering of the milk. The milk has to be
deep cooled on the farm because the milk truck comes only two or three
times a week (energy use). In the factory, it has to be warmed up for
the separator that separates the cream out (energy use). Then the cream
and the de-creamed milk have to be pasteurized with another high use of
energy. Then cream and skimmed milk have to be united again into
“whole milk.” Part of the cream goes into butter. Everything then has to
be deep cooled, transported and deep cooled again before it comes into
the hands of the consumer (more energy use). In the whole process,
many vitamins are lost. Who expects this white liquid or this
whitish, tasteless butterfat to have any life-giving properties?
In addition to all that is mentioned, the milk has to be pushed and
sucked through miles of pipes that have to be chemically cleaned.
Here -- more often than you think -- a late new germ infection is
happening in the pasteurized matter. Farm or close-to-farm processing
saves huge amounts of energy and leaves the life forces of the milk
intact. The consumers have to fight for the right to choose raw milk
and raw milk products from farms they know and they can trust and
that underlie certain hygienic controls. They have to fight for their
rights against the close cooperation of dairy industry and state veter-
This country was based on a concept of freedom. We have to fight
to re-establish the freedom of choice on all levels. The right to
choose the medication I trust, the right to choose the school I trust
for my children and the right to choose the food I trust from the
sources I know and can trust. "
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