How to distinguish natural butter from spread

How to identify real butter Products

Butter, despite the high percentage of fat content and animal origin, is a useful product in limited quantities. It maintains cell integrity, reduces inflammation, improves mood, etc. However, the product is expensive: a minimum of 20 liters of cow's milk is required to produce 1 kg. For this reason, in the case of butter, fakes are especially common.

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Natural butter is good for health.

The main features of natural butter

The main features of natural butter from cream depend on its type and variety. The highest grade is considered to be of higher quality, so it is taken as a standard. In the case of the first, slight deviations are permissible.

Feature name Characteristics of the indicator
Smell and taste Pronounced creamy taste, there may be notes of pasteurization. Foreign odors and tastes are absent. For the first grade, a slightly fodder or slightly burnt aftertaste is allowed.
Appearance and texture For the highest grade - plastic, dense, uniform. The surface on the cut is slightly matte, slightly shiny or shiny. In the first grade oil, the consistency may be mealy, layered, friable or slightly crumbly. The presence of small drops of moisture on the surface is allowed
Color From light yellow to yellow. Uniform shade preferred, but slight variation allowed for Class I

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The manufacturer independently determines how to produce products: according to GOST or TU. However, it must be borne in mind that the requirements for GOST are most often stricter. Technical specifications can be changed by the manufacturer at his request, because of which product quality often suffers.

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Butter is a good source of iodine. When choosing products, you must pay attention to GOST. Butter GOST number - R 52969-2008. There is also an interstate standard GOST 32261-2013.

Other GOST figures are also allowed, for example, the presence of the inscription R 52253-2004 on the product packaging indicates that the product was produced at the Vologda plant. However, if GOST R 52178-2003 is present on the package, you should not purchase it. This number is the state standard for margarine. The inclusion of vegetable fats in the composition of the product: palm, coconut and other GOST is prohibited.

Some manufacturers make oil according to specifications. In this case, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with what ingredients are included in the product.

Read also: how to check red caviar for naturalness?

GOST natural butter


In the manufacture of butter, the manufacturer must use pasteurized cream. According to the requirements of GOST, this product should not contain:

  • refined deodorized, modified oil;
  • milk fat substitute;
  • flavors;
  • preservatives;
  • dyes.

The presence of chemical components in the composition contributes to an increase in the level of cholesterol in the blood or the occurrence of an allergic reaction.

The product should contain a sufficient amount of vitamins A, B, E and D, as well as proteins, carbohydrates, sodium, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium.

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The most preferred composition is "cream" or "cow's milk cream" without additives. However, products with such a concise list of ingredients are rare. GOST allows the presence of other dairy products in the composition.

Most often, manufacturers use whey. It remains after the manufacture of cheese and cottage cheese. Whey contains a small amount of fat, which is separated during the production of butter.

Additionally, the composition may contain milk powder. For salty varieties, the presence of salt is allowed, for sour cream - sourdough. Chocolate butter contains cocoa. Of the extraneous additives, only E-160, beta-carotene, is allowed. It is a natural dye found in fruits and vegetables.

It is advisable to avoid products with flavors, preservatives and other chemical additives in the composition. Such substances can irritate the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. They can provoke the development of allergies or pathologies of the stomach and intestines. The presence of other fats in the composition is not allowed. A product to which coconut or palm oil or chicken fat has been added is classified as a spread.

Read also: how to distinguish lavazza coffee from forgery

Memo for determining the naturalness of butter

fat content

According to the technical documentation, the permissible fat content of butter is 50-85%, melted butter is 99-99.8%. For a product with the designation "peasant" in the name, the indicator must be at least 72.5%, for an amateur - at least 80%.

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There is an erroneous opinion that the fat content of real oil is necessarily 82.5%. In fact, this myth is associated only with different standards in different countries.

In the EU countries, the most common product with a fat content of 82.5%. It's more expensive. However, its cost is associated not so much with high quality as with the cost of transportation and the presence of sourdough in the composition.

In the EU, there is no category "Peasant", but this is due only to historical features. For this reason, you should not pay too much attention to the manufacturer, fat content and category.

Fat content of natural butter

The main differences between butter and spread and margarine

The main difference between butter and spread and margarine is the type of fat used. The latter varieties allow the presence of vegetable lipids in the composition.

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Spread is a combination option, and margarine consists almost entirely of vegetable raw materials. According to state standards, trans fats, dyes, flavor enhancers, etc. can be added to it.

Ways to check a quality product

Conventionally, the methods of checking products can be divided into 2 large groups. The first is a visual inspection and assessment of qualities. The second includes conducting tests and analyses. The latter are feasible only after purchase. Visual inspection sometimes helps to identify low-quality goods even before they are purchased.

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Definition by appearance

During visual inspection, the following criteria are evaluated:

  • color;
  • smell;
  • texture;
  • shape stability.

Additionally, taste is evaluated after consumption. Conclusions are made on the basis of a combination of factors, since deviations from the norm are sometimes allowed. For example, chocolate butter may be brown. A good product does not always crumble: in an unfrozen state it is plastic.

natural butter


You can check the authenticity of the product by the shade of the bar. The color of natural products is close to a fawn shade. This color is due to the presence of beta-carotene, which the cow receives by eating plant foods. If the product is made in the summer, then the shade will be yellowish. But not intense yellow. Natural products from winter oil are pale. This is due to the fact that there is not enough carotene in the feed during this period. Hence the color.

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An oil that is too saturated in color indicates the presence of artificial dyes in the composition or that industrial components were added to the feed for cows.

Any light yellow shades are allowed. The product may be yellowish, but not bright yellow.

When the product is white or bright yellow, it indicates a fake.

White color, regardless of the variety, is not included in the list of acceptable. A bright yellow product without carotene in the composition should be especially alert.


Real oil cannot have a bright yellow tint. When using vegetable fats, the natural color is white. Since this is a clear sign of a fake, manufacturers add carotene and other dyes. Including artificial additives.

Due to such deceptions, when the presence of a dye in the composition is not indicated, one has to pay attention to other signs.

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Taste and smell

Natural oil has almost no smell. This oil has a not very pronounced creamy taste and, moreover, no pungent odors.

A light creamy aroma is allowed. The taste is pleasant, sweet and milky, sour or salty notes may be present depending on the type of product. An unpleasant odor and taste indicate the presence of plant lipids.

Natural butter and spread


Still natural butter solid. When unfolding the package, it will not remain on the material, nor will it stick to the knife when cutting. The surface will be smooth, shiny and even.

If you have already bought the product, or you are buying by weight, ask to cut off a piece. Now look how the cut came out.

With high-quality production from natural components, cracks will not appear on the cut, as well as voids and some inclusions.

As for the consistency, genuine products are easily spread on bread. If the crumbling process begins under the knife, then the composition contains water, vegetable fats. Most likely it is margarine.

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In general, the melting point of milk fat is about 30-32 degrees Celsius. If you put natural butter in the freezer, it will almost turn into stone. Before you can easily spread on bread, you will have to wait for defrosting for at least 30 minutes.

The spread behaves completely differently. The inclusion of vegetable fat in the composition affects the consistency. Does not harden in the freezer. You can get it out of the freezer, and in just 10 minutes it will be calmly spread on bread.

After freezing, the product is difficult to cut, it may crumble.

Lack of effort when cutting and brittleness, obtaining an even cut is more typical for margarine or spread.

Frozen butter will crumble when cut.

Shape stability

Good butter retains its shape at any temperature. Even in the room for an hour, it will not melt completely, unlike the spread, which can spread over the plate. The product will just become soft.

Testing at home

Several tests can be done at home. However, only an official examination will give reliable results. Home checks are designed to help you understand whether it is worth buying such a product in the future or it is better to find another option.

Natural butter and spread in hot water

boiling water

The easiest way to distinguish butter from margarine and spread is to pour boiling water over it. A small piece is placed in a glass and hot water is poured into it. The normal result is a rapid dissolution of the mass.

Yellow greasy spots should float on the surface. Spread and margarine do not melt well. They remain almost unchanged and float on the surface. When you try to stir the water with a spoon, the mass will separate into separate components.

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If lumps remain on the surface or the oil has not completely dissolved, then it contains palm oil. Particular attention should be paid to the color of the water in the glass. It shouldn't be too cloudy.

In boiling water

The oil dissolves in hot water.

On a taunt

To check, you need to freeze the product. Keep it in the freezer for 3-4 hours. The refrigerator compartment for vegetables is not suitable: the temperature is too high there.

Take out the bar and try to cut off a small piece with a knife. Good butter will be hard and start to crumble. Poor quality imitation will remain soft, the blade will easily go into it.

Texture of frozen butter.

On the ability to melt

A piece of butter is cooled and left indoors at room temperature for half an hour.

At room temperature, a real creamy product will begin to thaw, the butter will become softer.

But margarine has a much higher melting point, so it does not melt at room temperature.

For the presence of dyes

Check the mass for the presence of dyes will help vodka. It is heated and a small piece of oil is thrown into the container, then mixed. The solution should be light. A bright yellow color indicates the presence of dyes. However, if the manufacturer honestly reports the presence of carotene in the composition, there is nothing to worry about.

color oil
If the oil is too yellow, then there is a large amount of dye.

At the appearance of dew

This test can be carried out at the same time as the melting test. When the mass becomes soft, inspect it. There should be no large drops of moisture. For Class I, small particles of water are allowed.

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in a frying pan

If you turn on a low heat and put a piece of butter on a preheated pan, it should melt without hissing and smoke. The appearance of burning, dark sediment and a sharp unpleasant odor is not allowed. This is possible only if water enters the pan or a contaminated surface. If the dishes are clean, and smoke and burning have appeared, then you have a spread or margarine in front of you.

If everything is good with the composition, then the melting process will be uniform. A white film will appear, as well as a characteristic pleasant creamy aroma. Heating the spread leads to the appearance of a transparent liquid. The smell is not very pleasant. But due to flavorings, it can resemble real butter from cream.

in a frying pan
The oil is heated without burning and dark spots.

With the help of iodine

Iodine helps determine the presence of starch. This method is good, for example, for checking cottage cheese or sour cream. Starch is sometimes added to milk to thicken it. However, the ingredient is not used to falsify the oil, so checking with iodine will be uninformative.

With the help of potassium permanganate

A simple but visual quality test. It is necessary to make a solution of potassium permanganate. Then add some oil to it. If the liquid clears up, that's a good sign. When vegetable fat enters, no changes occur.

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Vodka will help determine not only the presence of dyes, but also the overall quality of the product. The liquid is heated and a piece of oil is lowered, mixed. The quality is judged by the resulting film. It must be even. Deformations indicate the presence of plant impurities.

You can also take a container, pour vodka into it, and then add oil. Detects dyes. If the vodka starts to turn yellow, then there are dyes in the composition. With a constant color in the hands of a natural quality product.

Oil in vodka
Oil and spread in vodka.


After freezing, lightly press on the oil with your finger. A quality product does not change shape, remains solid. Indentations remain on the surface of margarine or spread.

When placing a briquette for 3-4 hours in the freezer, the butter will not be cut. It will start to break into pieces. If this is a mixture based on palm, vegetable fat, then even frosts are easy to spread on bread

The time test is an elementary test, but it takes time. Remove food from the freezer or refrigerator. Leave at room temperature conditions. Counterfeit will have drops of moisture on the surface.

Natural butter after freezing

Determination of counterfeit in the store

You can distinguish the original from the imitation even in the store, if you examine the packaging. You need to pay attention to additional inscriptions and expiration dates. Indirectly, the quality is indicated by the cost of the mass.

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Do you like pancakes with natural butter?

Labels on the packaging

Due to the peculiarities of the law, counterfeit butter cannot be called simply butter. Because manufacturers come up with all sorts of names.

If you cannot find the word “oil” on the package, it is better to refuse this purchase. This is already 100% fake.

The main difference between natural oil and counterfeit lies in the composition.

In the case of a natural product, everything is simple. There is a cow. She gives milk. Cream is made from full-fat milk, and the cream is already churned into butter. Everything. This is a manufacturing chain that is not subject to any changes.

Therefore, in this product there will be no vegetable fats and other strange additives. The correct composition includes only cream and milk. It is desirable that only well-known names of categories appear in the title, i.e. "peasant", "creamy", "amateur".

The word “oil” must be on the packaging.

Vague statements such as "cream product" or "cream based product" should not be present. Fat content is acceptable from 50%, but it is better to give preference to a product with an indicator higher than 70-72%.

The packaging should indicate that it is definitely oil.

Packaged butter is produced in bars with a net weight of 100, 200, 250 and 500 g, which are wrapped in laminated aluminum foil material on thin parchment.

Important! Packing of briquettes is carried out by the manufacturer, which is engaged in the manufacture of the product.

Best before date

Read the storage conditions indicated on the packaging.

The natural product has a short shelf life. In general, according to the rules, storage is carried out in the freezer. This increases the shelf life.

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In a conventional refrigerator, the terms are several times shorter.

The temperature and shelf life of the oil are given in the table

Variety Shelf life at t -12°C

Shelf life at t from 0 to +5°C

in parchment in foil
Unsalted sweet cream 9 months 10 days 20 days
Salty 6 months 10 days 20 days
Peasant 6 months 10 days 20 days
sandwich 2 months 10 days 20 days
Margarine 3 months 2 months 2 months

The longer the manufacturer indicates the shelf life, the more preservatives and herbal additives in the composition. This is a bad sign.

For clarity, bulk butter, made only from milk from cream, can be stored for only 10 days.

The shelf life of high-quality oil is 30-35 days.

Higher values indicate the presence of preservatives in the composition.


A natural product cannot be cheap. To produce 1 kg of mass, 20 liters of milk are required to be processed. If we are talking about whey, then even more raw materials will be needed.

Other products are also obtained from skimmed milk, but the price of butter is still high: from 100-120 rubles. for a small bar weighing 180 g.

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Suspiciously cheap products are most likely made with the addition of inexpensive vegetable fats. To reduce the cost of production, vegetable fat is added to the composition. Compare prices in the store for little, spread and margarine. Feel the difference.

If they try to sell you supposedly oil at a price that is more reminiscent of the cost of margarine, refuse. It's a fake.

Additional factors

When choosing, give preference to a product packed in foil or parchment paper. Take bars without defects. Avoid knocked down corners and dents - such imperfections may indicate a repeated freezing of the mass.

Do not buy oil that is slightly pressed by your fingers when touched. If dents remain on the pack, even when you just get acquainted with the composition or put the product in the basket, consider other options.

Excessive softness indicates either improper storage or plant impurities in the composition.

Actions if you sold a low-quality product

If you doubt the quality of the product, contact the seller and try to resolve the conflict by compromise. State your complaints politely. Already at this stage, you must enlist the results of the examination: the seller will take into account only objective evidence. If the store does not want to take the product back, ask for a written refusal.

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Make a claim in 2 copies. Give one to the seller, keep the other. The seller must sign the document stating that he has read the text.

If the official refuses to accept the complaint, indicate this fact. After a repeated rejection, you have the right to contact Rospotrebnadzor, the prosecutor's office and the internal affairs bodies responsible for combating the spread of counterfeit products.

At the same time, you can send a request for a refund for the goods to the importer and the manufacturer, since the manufacturer indicated incorrect data in the composition.

When submitting claims, please note that you can only return products that do not match the information provided by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer honestly writes that vegetable fats are present in the composition, you will rightly be refused.

What is your favorite dish with butter added?
homemade baking
Potato dumplings
I'm on a diet
Voted: 44

Where to go if you sold a fake?


Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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Add a comment

  1. Alexey

    Real oil is now very difficult to find, and sometimes almost impossible. I think it is better to take oil by weight on the market with the opportunity to try it when buying. So you can tell by taste whether it is real or not!

  2. Konstantin

    Extremely up to date information. Now there are so many palm oil spreads trying to pass off as butter that it already looks like a global scam. I hope that with the help of these recommendations I will be able to find natural butter.

  3. Alexey

    it is important to buy natural oil so as not to get poisoned by all sorts of chemical additives

  4. Rail

    Now, in pursuit of profit, some manufacturers do not hesitate to fake this or that product. Here, under the pretext of butter, they are pushing (selling) different shit, sorry. But we need to try to find a quality product. But I myself and many others buy butter at wholesale from two manufacturers, while the quality is good, apparently they value their reputation.

  5. Anna Krupskaya

    It was very useful to know the whole truth about the oil

  6. Andrey

    I found a very good tip for myself here!

  7. Hastasiay

    Now there is a huge selection of oils in stores of various brands. And even among them comes across something “not right” to taste. There used to be Butter and there was no doubt about it.

  8. Olga

    At present, there are many varieties of butter and at the same time more fakes. After reading the article, you can perfectly understand where the fake is and where the real oil is.

  9. Sasha Gaiduk

    The article is very interesting about how to determine the quality of butter, which I did not know about. Fakes are very common and now it is problematic to buy natural butter. My wife found a way out. She buys natural village cream from one grandmother and makes butter herself. The result is amazing and I don’t buy store-bought butter.

  10. Sergei

    I remember that under the Soviet Union, butter, despite its great shortage, was considered of high quality, but at the same time it crumbled, and was not in the form of a paste ... I don’t understand why yellow butter cannot be of high quality if homemade is yellow like wax.

  11. Aytac

    Thanks for the article! I couldn’t even imagine that people can’t distinguish butter from spreads and margarine ... everything is elementary right there .. PRICE + composition. We generally sell spreads but from butter.