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Old 06-22-2014, 05:39 AM   #1
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Butter or margarine?

I am a beginner of cooking. I know there is no clear-cut for this question after research on Google.
I did shopping today at a large local supermarket but shockingly, there are lots of butter/margarine but none of them has the word "butter'' or ''margarine'' on any parts of their box. They use the word ''oil'' instead but I am pretty sure that they are either butter or margarine.

By the way, there are so many choices, what should I pay special attention to on the nutrients labels? Thanks

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Old 06-22-2014, 09:25 AM   #2
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To me there IS a clear-cut choice. I always use real butter. All the rest are laboratory fabrications.
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Old 06-22-2014, 09:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenny1999 View Post
I am a beginner of cooking. I know there is no clear-cut for this question after research on Google.
I did shopping today at a large local supermarket but shockingly, there are lots of butter/margarine but none of them has the word "butter'' or ''margarine'' on any parts of their box. They use the word ''oil'' instead but I am pretty sure that they are either butter or margarine.

By the way, there are so many choices, what should I pay special attention to on the nutrients labels? Thanks
Where are you situated, Kenny?

Butter is made from cream and nothing added except, sometimes, a little salt. If it has any other ingredients or references to preservatives it isn't butter. There are two types of butter - sweet cream and lactic. lactic butter (eg Danish butter) has a small amount of "ripened" butter in it but it may not say this on the ingredients (it doesn't in the UK but it depends on the labelling regulations where you are).

There are other butter substitutes which are a mixture of butter fat and oil and other things, which purport to be "better" for you than butter and in some cases are lower in fat (usually this is achieved by adding water and other things) but, as you say these are not butter and (at least in the UK) they have to be called "spreads".

There have been some recent studies published which claim that butter is not as bad for us as has been painted but I don't know where this originated (it may have been paid for by the dairy industry!). As a non-scientific person I am inclined to believe it (because I can if I want to ) and butter tastes better. To the best of my knowledge British dairy cows can't be given hormones to encourage milk production but I believe this may be allowed in some countries. Depending on where you live, you may choose to eschew butter for that reason.

As regards margarine, you rarely see the word in British shops although it is sold in Britain (eg the product which used to be labelled "Stork Margarine" is now just "Stork" and Tesco own brand Margarine is now just labelled "baking fat" which sounds very unappetising).

Personally, I prefer to stick with my butter and moderate my consumption. I prefer the taste and "feel" of it on my bread and in baking too although I'll use margarine for a strongly flavoured cake such as gingerbread if I'm short of butter. However, if frying with butter it is a good idea to add a little blandly flavoured cooking oil as it tends to make the butter less likely to burn.
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:02 AM   #4
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We have returned to the real things after years

After years of using these laboratory concoctions, we have returned to real unsalted butter. Why? It is a REAL food. It tastes better. It melts better. It combines with other ingredients better. It is reasonably priced. Nuff said?

Our beloved former pastor from Alabama, when he wanted to make a point about something being genuine and valid, used to utter the phrase "Them's home-made biscuits and real butter."
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:17 AM   #5
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I believe that the power that created life did it right. I use real butter. Margarine, or any of the Butter flavored spreads never enter my house. I know what to expect of butter, whether I'm cooking, spreading it on toast, or dressing veggies, or a piece of warm, fresh from the oven bread. It tastes better, and if eaten in moderation, as with all fats, isn't so very bad for you. I mean, the human race survived thousands of years before margarine was ever invented.

And just for the record, lard, or pork fat, has less cholesterol than does butter. So a little bacon grease added to you noodles is healthier than is butter in those same noodles. Try adding melted sausage, or bacon fat, or melted butter to your next batch of pancake batter, rather than cooking oil. Of course you will have to let it cool a little to avoid cooking the batter as the hot fat hits the batter. You will find that the flavor is more complex, and better (IMHO)

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Old 06-22-2014, 10:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kenny1999 View Post
...They use the word ''oil'' instead but I am pretty sure that they are either butter or margarine...

If it's butter, it will say butter on the label. Read the ingredients list. It should be short. Two ingredients is about right. Sweet cream, salt.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:07 PM   #7
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Unless it is unsalted butter in the US then it will often say "sweet cream and natural flavor"

Go with the one that says BUTTER on the label, if it says "buttery" or "spread" or "baking sticks" it's likely margarine.

Margarine can have huge variations in the amount of fat and water and this can really mess with baked goods. Butter is usually much more consistent. Butter is a more natural, better tasting product too.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:44 PM   #8
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I mean , the local margarine/butter does not have any label about whether they are margarine or butter. They simply use the term "oil". I can't distinguish whether they are butter or margarine. I'd like to know what parameters on the nutrient label that I should pay special attention to.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kenny1999 View Post
I mean , the local margarine/butter does not have any label about whether they are margarine or butter. They simply use the term "oil". I can't distinguish whether they are butter or margarine. I'd like to know what parameters on the nutrient label that I should pay special attention to.

The labeling laws in Hong Kong are clearly very different from other parts of the world. I don't think we can help you with this as the labels don't seem to provide enough information to make a decision.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:57 PM   #10
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I think margarine tastes better for making toast & jelly. I think regular butter tastes pretty bad on toast.

Everything else gets butter because it tastes better.
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