Food Guide

Butter Woes: The Surprising Reason Behind Its Increased Hardness

Have you ever noticed that butter isn’t as soft as it used to be? You’re not alone.

In fact, hard butter has become such a common complaint that some manufacturers have taken to adding a little more salt to their products to make them softer.

But why is butter harder than it used to be? The answer lies in the way it’s produced.

1. Changes in farming methods

The simple answer is that there are changes in farming methods.

First, modern dairies tend to milk their cows less often.

In the old days, dairies milked their cows twice a day.

Now, most dairies milk their cows three or even four times a day.

This means that the cows are producing more milk.

Second, modern dairies are also using more automation.

They are using robots to milk the cows, and they are using machines to process the milk.

This means that they are able to produce more milk, and they are able to process the milk faster.

Third, modern dairies are also using different types of feed for their cows.

In the old days, dairies used to feed their cows mostly on grass.

Now, most dairies use a mix of grass and grain for their cows.

This means that the cows are getting more nutrients, and they are producing more milk.

2. Changes in cow genetics

The main reason why butter is harder than it used to be is because of changes in cow genetics.

Cows have been bred to produce more milk, and as a result, they have become less fatty.

This means that the butter produced from their milk is also less fatty.

In addition, the way that butter is produced has changed over time.

Many companies now use a process called “ultra-high temperature pasteurization” to kill any bacteria in the milk.

This means that the milk is heated to a very high temperature (around 300 degrees Fahrenheit) for a short period of time.

This kills any bacteria, but it also changes the flavor of the milk, making it taste more like cardboard.

3. Changes in milk production methods

Cows were mostly kept indoors, in large sheds, and fed a diet high in protein, fat, and sugar.

This diet was designed to make the cows produce very large quantities of milk.

Milk production was measured in “perceived” or “adjusted” milk, which is the amount of milk produced by a cow after allowing for the amount of milk the cow would produce if she were not being milked.

The goal was to get cows to produce as close to their perceived maximum as possible.

This intensive system of milk production is not sustainable in the long term.

Cows’ bodies were not designed to produce such large quantities of milk, and the nutritional demands of producing so much milk every day are huge.

Over time, the “high-yielding” cows used in this system would inevitably become “unbalanced”, meaning that their nutritional needs would no longer be met by the feed they were getting.

4. Changes in butter making methods

Have you ever noticed that butter is a harder consistency than it used to be? There are a few reasons for this.

One is that the butter making process has changed over the years.

Gone are the days of churning butter by hand – today, it’s made by machines that can produce a higher volume and more consistent product.

This means that the butter you buy at the store is likely to be harder than the butter your grandparents may have made at home.

Another reason butter is harder than it used to be is that the milk used to make it is often pasteurized, which means it’s heated to a high temperature to remove any bacteria.

This process can change the consistency of the milk and make it harder to churn into butter.

Finally, the type of butter making equipment used can also affect the consistency of the final product.

Some machines, for example, may produce a thicker butter than others.

5. Changes in packaging and storage methods

Have you ever noticed that butter is sometimes harder than it used to be? This is because butter is made from cream, and cream is a complex emulsion that can easily break down.

The fat content of cream is very high, so it is easily oxidized and goes rancid.

The fat globules in cream are also prone to coalescing into larger globules, which makes the cream hard and grainy.

In the past, cream was often left to sit for a few days to let the globules coalesce and harden before being churned into butter.

Today, butter is made from cream that has been pasteurized and homogenized.

This process breaks down the fat globules in the cream and distributes them evenly throughout the liquid.

The butter is then cooled and packaged for sale.

The butter you buy at the store is often quite hard, because it has been sitting in the refrigerator case for a while.

The butter will soften as it comes to room temperature, but if you want to use it in a recipe that calls for softened butter, you may need to take it out of the refrigerator a few hours in advance.


So, why is butter harder than it used to be? Changes in farming methods, changes in cow genetics, and changes in milk production methods all have something to do with it.

But the biggest reason is that the USDA doesn’t want your butter to be soft and spreadable.

They want it to be hard, so that when you buy it from the store, you have to leave it on the counter to soften up before you can use it.

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Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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