Butterfat or milkfat is the fatty portion of milk. Milk and cream are often sold according to the amount of butterfat they contain.



The fatty acids of butterfat are typically composed as follows (by mass fraction):[1]

U.S. Standards

In the U.S., there are federal standards[2] for butterfat content of dairy products.[3][4][5][6] Commercial products generally contain the minimum legal amount of fat.

  • Milks
    • skim milk contains less than 0.5% fat, typically 0.1%
    • lowfat milk contains between 0.5–2% fat; 1% and 2% varieties are widely marketed
    • whole milk contains at least 3.25% fat
  • Cheeses
    • dry curd and nonfat cottage cheese contain less than 0.5% fat
    • cottage cheese contains at least 4% fat
    • lowfat cottage cheese contains 0.5–2% fat
    • Cheddar cheese contains at least 50% fat relative to the total solids
    • Swiss cheese contains at least 43% fat relative to the total solids
  • Frozen desserts
    • ice cream contains at least 10% fat
    • lowfat ice cream, also called ice milk, contains not more than 2.6% fat
    • sherbet contains 1–2% fat
  • Creams
    • half and half contains 10.5–18% fat
    • light cream and sour cream contain 18–30% fat
    • light whipping cream (often called simply "whipping cream") contains 30–36% fat
    • heavy cream contains a minimum of 36% fat
    • manufacturer's cream (not federally regulated) contains 40% fat
  • Butter (including whipped butter) contains at least 80% fat

See also


  1. ^ National Research Council, 1976, online edition Fat Content and Composition of Animal Products, Printing and Publishing Office, National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C., ISBN 0-309-02440-4; p. 203
  2. ^ United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service
  3. ^ USDA Commercial Item Description: Milks, Fluid (2001).
  4. ^ USDA Specifications for Cream Cheese, Cream Cheese with other Foods, and Related Products (1994).
  5. ^ United States Department of Agriculture Standard for Ice Cream (1977).
  6. ^ USDA Commercial Item Description: Cream, Eggnog, Half-and-half, and Sour Cream (2002).

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • butterfat — utterfat n. the fatty substance of milk from which butter is made. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • butterfat — ► NOUN ▪ the natural fat contained in milk and dairy products …   English terms dictionary

  • butterfat — [but′ərfat΄] n. the fatty part of milk, from which butter is made: it consists mainly of the glycerides of oleic, stearic, palmitic, and butyric acids …   English World dictionary

  • butterfat — /but euhr fat /, n. butter; milk fat; a mixture of glycerides, mainly butyrin, olein, and palmitin. [1885 90; BUTTER + FAT] * * * ▪ food also called  Milk Fat,         natural fatty constituent of cows milk and the chief component of butter.… …   Universalium

  • butterfat — noun Date: 1889 the natural fat of milk and chief constituent of butter consisting essentially of a mixture of glycerides (as those derived from butyric, capric, caproic, and caprylic acids) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • butterfat — noun the fatty components of butter …   Wiktionary

  • butterfat — but·ter·fat .fat n the natural fat of milk and chief constituent of butter consisting essentially of a mixture of glycerides (as butyrin, olein, and palmitin) * * * but·ter·fat (butґər fat″) the fat content of milk and the major… …   Medical dictionary

  • butterfat — but|ter|fat [ˈbʌtəfæt US ər ] n [U] the natural fat in milk …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • butterfat — but|ter|fat [ bʌtər,fæt ] noun uncount the fat in milk …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • butterfat — n. fat from milk; butter …   English contemporary dictionary

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