Margarines and Spreads

  • Niall Young
  • Paul Wassell

The application margarine and spreads refers to a series of products, which are likened to butter, but have different fat contents. The definition of margarine is rigidly fixed with regards to fat content, a minimum of 80% by weight must be present, but the rheological characteristics of margarine can range from liquid to plastic in nature. Any edible oil or fat source may be used in its manufacture.

The definition of spreads is more ambiguous since they may contain a wide variety of fat contents, thus promoting the low fat, and reduced fat spread concept. This typically refers to anything between 25 and 70% fat content, but today modern demands often exist for even lower fat levels.

Margarine was invented in response to a request from the French Government of Napoleon III for a less expensive, longer life replacement for butter. The invention, credited to Hippolyte Mège-Mouriez, took place around 1860s and focussed on the rendering of tallow fat by artificial gastric juices, a crystallisation step at ambient temperature and extraction under pressure to obtain oleomargarine, a semi-fluid fraction and oleostearine, a hard white fat in the ratio of 60:40 respectively. The softer fraction was noted to have a flavour not dissimilar to butter fat, a similar melting point and a typical pale yellow colour, and the material could easily be plasticised. Thus, it represented a firm foundation material for the production of a butter substitute. The material was thought to contain glycerides of margaric acid, but it is now established that the fatty acid content is made up from palmitic and stearic acids—but nonetheless the name margarine has stuck.


Trans Fatty Acid Ascorbyl Palmitate Cake Batter Puff Pastry Water Droplet Size 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niall Young
    • 1
  • Paul Wassell
    • 2
  1. 1.Food Protection Multiple Food ApplicationsDenmark
  2. 2.Danisco (UK) Ltd.UK

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