The art of butter making dates back to times immemorial. Reference to the use of butter for sacrificial worship, for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, and as a human food may be found long before the Christian era. Documents indicate that, at least in the Old World, the taming and domestication of animals constituted the earliest beginnings of human civilization and culture. There is good reason to believe, therefore, that the milking of animals and the origin of butter making aforedate the beginning of organized and permanent recording of human activities.
The evolution of the art of butter making has been intimately associated with the development and use of equipment. With the close of the eighteenth century the construction and use of creaming and butter-making equipment, other than that made of wood, began to receive consideration, and the barrel churn made its appearance.
By the middle of the nineteenth century attention was given to improvement in methods of creaming. These efforts gave birth to the deep-setting system. Up to that time, creaming was done by a method called shallow pan. The deep-setting system shortened the time for creaming and produced a better-quality cream. An inventive Bavarian brewer in 1864 conceived the idea of adapting the principle of the laboratory centrifuge. In 1877 a German engineer succeeded in designing a machine that, although primitive, was usable as a batch-type apparatus. In 1879 engineers in Sweden, Denmark, and Germany succeeded in the construction of cream separators for fully continuous operation (1).
In 1870, the last year before introduction of factory butter making, butter production in the United States was 514 million lb, practically all farm made. Authentic records concerning the beginning of factory butter making are meager. It appears that the first butter factory was built in Iowa in 1871. This beginning also introduced the pooling system of creamery operation (1).
Other inventions that assisted the development of the butter industry included the Babcock test (1890), which accurately determines the percentage of fat in milk and cream, the use of pasteurization to maintain milk and cream quality; and the use of pure cultures of lactic acid bacteria and refrigeration to help preserve cream quality.
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