Butter is commonly sold in sticks (pictured
4 oz/110 g) or blocks, and frequently served
with the use of a butter knife.
Butter is a dairy product made by churning
fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is gener-
ally used as a spread and a condiment, as
well as in cooking applications such as bak-
ing, sauce making, and frying. Butter consists
of butterfat, water and milk proteins.
Most frequently made from cows’ milk,
butter can also be manufactured from that of
other mammals, including sheep, goats, buf-
falo, and yaks. Salt, flavorings and preservat-
ives are sometimes added to butter. Render-
ing butter produces clarified butter or ghee,
which is almost entirely butterfat.
Butter is an emulsion which remains a sol-
id when refrigerated, but softens to a spread-
able consistency at room temperature, and
melts to a thin liquid consistency at 32–35 °C
911 kg/m3 (1535.5 lb/yd3).
It generally has a pale yellow color, but
varies from deep yellow to nearly white. Its
color is dependent on the animal’s feed and
is commonly manipulated with food colorings
in the commercial manufacturing process,
most commonly annatto or carotene.
The word butter derives (via Germanic lan-
guages) from the Latin butyrum, which is
borrowed from the Greek boutyron. This may
have been a construction meaning "cow-
cheese" (bous "ox, cow" + tyros "cheese"), or
the word may have been borrowed from
another language, possibly Scythian. The
root word persists in the name butyric acid, a
compound found in rancid butter and dairy
products such as Parmesan cheese.
In general use, the term "butter" refers to
the spread dairy product when unqualified by
other descriptors. The word commonly is
used to describe puréed vegetable or nut
products such as peanut butter and almond
butter. It is often applied to spread fruit
products such as apple butter. Fats such as
cocoa butter and shea butter that remain sol-
id at room temperature are also known as
"butters". In addition to the act of applying