Cattle herding people around the world have been producing butter for much longer than you may have thought.

Ricetta_grana

The oldest “written” evidence dates back 4500 years, to the Sumerian era, and is engraved on a tablet of limestone, preserved in the museum of Baghdad. The scene depicts cows being milked by workers on a large estate and butter being produced in a primitive “churn“. This is nothing more than a large jar containing milk, in which the liquid is made to swirl to the right and the left.

A recipe from Maestro Martino da Como in Il Libro de arte coquinaria (The Book of Culinary Art), a fifteenth century cookbook written in the vernacular, can be dated to around 1460:

“In like manner, as said above, take a pound of cleaned and very well minced almonds, and you shall use the cloth to press them tightly adding half a glass of rose water; and in order to press them tightly, you shall add a bit of starch flour, or, even better, half a glass of pike broth along with four ounces of sugar and just a little bit of saffron, to make it yellow, pressing it all, as I have said, as tightly as possible. Then, you shall give it the shape like that of a pat of butter; you shall put it to rest in a very cool place from the evening to the following morning”.