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Butter was originally used as a medicine, not as a food, and was eaten by neither the Greeks nor Romans - they used it as a laxative, and a remedy for skin injuries!

Indeed, without the benefit off refrigeration it would have been hard to stop butter becoming rancid, particularly during the summer months. To help delay this, if it was to be used for cooking, it would have been clarified, put into pots and kept away from the air; or if to be used fresh - heavily salted (according to a record of 1305 one pound of salt was required for every ten pounds of butter or cheese) - in the case of butter, it was customary to wash out most of the salt in water before the butter was used. In the middle ages, the poor ate butter with bread and herbs, but the well-to-do viewed it more cautiously, in the belief that it lingered at the top of the stomach "as the fatness doth swim above in a boiling pot".; they tended to use butter made from almonds instead.

It should be remembered that in medieval times cows produced much less milk than those of today - an animal did well to give enough milk in one week to make a single pound of butter.

It was probably the Scandinavians who first developed a taste for butter, and introduced it as a food to the rest of Europe.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.

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