Making Margarine

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The gross composition of margarine is the same as butter’s: a minimum of 80% fat, a maximum of 16% water. The water phase is either fresh or cultured skim milk, or skim milk reconstituted from powder. Salt is added for flavor, to reduce spattering during frying, and as an antimicrobial agent. In the United States, the fat phase is blended from soybean, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, canola, and other oils. In Europe, lard and refined fish oils are also used. The emulsifier lecithin is added (0.2%) to stabilize the water droplets and reduce spattering in the frying pan; coloring agents, flavor extracts, and vitamins A and D are also incorporated. Nitrogen gas may be pumped in to make a whipped, softer spread.