Butter in German Supermarkets

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Understanding different types of Butter and Spreads In German Supermarkets. 

The variety available in German Supermarkets when it comes to spreads and butter can confuse someone new in Germany. Through this article, I aim to remove much of this confusion by explaining ten of the most commonly available spreads and butter available in German supermarkets so that you, as a consumer, can make an informed choice.

So, let’s start.

To understand the different types of butter available in German supermarkets, one should first understand the general process of making butter. 

You can check my article on Ghee, which explains in detail how cream, butter, and ghee can be extracted from milk at home. The article also covers how you can source ghee in Germany. 

However, I will share, in brief, the 4-step process used commercially for extracting butter from milk. 

1: Boil and cool the milk.

2: Separate the layer of cream that forms on its surface. 

3: Allow the cream to age for a few hours.

4: Churn the cream till the butter separates from the residual milky liquid. 

Now let us understand the different types of butter in German Supermarkets.

  1. Sauerrahmbutter

    Sauer means Sour, Rahm means cream, and Butter is butter. As the name says, this butter is sour. After extracting the cream ( Step 2) and before it is kept for aging ( Step 3), it is acidified with lactic acid to initiate the fermentation process. Then the cream is churned ( Step 4) to extract the butter. Due to the addition of lactic acid, this butter has a longer shelf life and its typical aroma, and of course, a bit sour.
  2. Süßrahmbutter

    Süß means sweet, Rahm means cream, and Butter is butter. The process of extracting this butter is the same as what we follow at home ( Refer to this article). Steps 1 to 4 are followed, and the cream is not treated with lactic acid culture. This butter tastes slightly sweet and has a mild aroma.
  3. mildgesäuerter Butter 

    Mild means Mild, gesäuert comes from ansäueren, which means to make sour/acidify, and of course, Butter is butter. As the name says, it is mildly acidified butter. In the production of this butter, the acids are added after the butter is made, i.e., after Step 4. Since the cream doesn’t get fermented with the help of acid, the taste of this butter is milder than Sauerrahmbutter.
  4. Butterschmalz/geklärte Butter 

    This is translated to clarified butter. While it is very close to ghee, it is not the same. After Step 4 ( mentioned above), the butter is slowly cooked till it clarifies. The residue( which is light brown) is separated, and the clear liquid that you get is called clarified butter ( geklärte Butter/Butterschmalz).

    The difference between Butterschmalz and ghee is that the cooking process takes longer to obtain ghee. It stops when the residue becomes brown. The clear liquid then extracted is called ghee.
  5. Spreads made from butter and oil

    This is a combination of butter and oil. Because oil melts at a lower temperature than butter, these spreads never harden completely. Even after immediately taking them out of the fridge, they are easy to spread on bread. Different names are used on these products, such as Streichzart ( which means ‘Spreadable’), Streichfett, etc.
  6. Joghurt Butter

    This is low-fat butter. It is made by combining butter with low-fat yogurt and vegetable oils (soy, palm, palm, canola) and water. This also is easy to spread because of the presence of oil. It is slightly sour.
  7. Fassbutter

    Fass means barrel. Fassbutter means butter made in a barrel. In the olden times, the cream was whipped in a barrel, and hence butter was manufactured in batches. This process was tedious. In the modern butter-making process, this method is not used. However, if someone fancies butter made by the traditional, slow-churning method, they can buy Fassbutter. It is easily identifiable by its typical cylindrical shape, which distinguishes it from regular butter.
  8. Kräuterbutter

    This is butter mixed with herbs and salt. It’s ideal to use as a spread on bread. Different brands use these herbs in different proportions. Even the salt content varies.
  9. Margarine

    Margarine is an emulsion made through intensive processing of refined vegetable oil and water. While butter is yellowish, this has a whitish colour. Although earlier, margarine used to be made with animal fat, most of them available in german supermarkets these days are made of vegetable oils like sunflower oil, olive oil, rape seeds oil, etc.
  10. Irische Butter

    This butter comes from Ireland. Although butter from other countries are also available in supermarkets, I am making a special mention of Irish butter because it is most commonly available. This butter has a deeper yellow color and is said to have a better taste because of the quality of the grass the cows feed on. This also comes in all variants- salted/unsalted/mixed with oil, etc. I have made mentioned it in my article on Ghee too. It is the ideal butter if you want to make ghee at home.

In addition to these six types mentioned above, you might have noticed butter packs with the label Deutsche Markenbutter and Molkereibutter. Let us understand them now:

These represent the quality of the butter. The various types of butter sold in the market are tested on qualities such as appearance, smell, taste, texture, water distribution, and how well they spread. There is a point system based on which these are evaluated.  

  1. Marken Butter

    To call a butter Marken Butter, it must obtain at least 4 out of 5 points on each of the above-mentioned qualities. The mention of ‘Marken Butter’ on the pack means that it is of the highest quality and made from pasteurized cream from cow’s milk. 
  2. Molkerei Butter

    Molkerei means dairy; hence Molkerei Butter means butter from a dairy. To call a butter Molkereibutter, it must obtain at least 3 out of 5 points on each of the above-mentioned qualities. This butter may be obtained from cream obtained from pasteurized milk or whey cream ( which is a by-product of cheese making) and must be made in a dairy.

All the above-mentioned types of butter are available in salted (gesalzene) and unsalted (ungesalzene Butter) )forms. You can buy salted or unsalted butter as per your requirement but remember that because salt acts as a preservative, salted butter has a longer shelf life ( 3 months) than unsalted butter (2-3 weeks). So, plan to buy accordingly.  

I hope that with this article, I have brought some clarity and that it will help you choose the right product according to your need.

To read about other products in German Supermarkets, click here.

Using these ingredients from supermarkets, I try out different recipes in my kitchen. Do have a look at that too.

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