The Unexpected Origin Of Butter

Butter, a spread at the top of its league, is slathered on toast, cooked into sauces, and beaten into pastries with nary a thought of its origins.

Where does it originate? Probably France, right? After all, they are the number one consumer of the luxurious paste in the world (per World Atlas) with their croissants, breakfast baguettes, and everything else that is not allowed to be anything less than decadent.

As deeply entrenched as butter is in French fare, it does not hail from this country. Neither does it hail from the early Romans, who apparently used it to treat coughs and sore joints, nor from India, where the Hindus designed to appease Krishna with a steady supply of it in its clarified form (for three centuries), per Butter Journal. Apparently, it does not hail from culinary Europe, Asia, or the Americas either, but rather somewhere on the same continent as the cradle of humankind, at least according to Elaine Khosrova (Via Food Network).

Butter's accidental beginnings

Some of the greatest inventions are accidental, and butter is no exception. According to former pastry chef, food journalist, and author Elaine Khosrova, it hails from Africa 10,000 years ago courtesy of the herders of that era when they stored milk in skins and carried them on the backs of animals, per National Public Radio.

It took a while for our primordial ancestors to figure out that the solidification of butter had less to do with the animals' backs and more with movement. When they eventually connected the dots, they hung the milk skins from trees and churned there, per Khosrova (via National Public Radio).

The earliest forms of butter came from the milk of sheep, goats, and yaks, as they were the first to be domesticated, claimed Khosrova. Cardiff University cites research that suggests sheep and goats were domesticated over 10,000 years ago, and humans started milking them around the same time. Here is the twist: Cows were domesticated 6,000 years ago, and the first to milk them were Northern European farmers, per Encyclopaedia Britannica. What does this say of the origins of cow-milk butter?