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


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”.