Q&A (questions and answers) about margarine

Margarine

What is margarine?

Margarine has been around for roughly 150 years. It is made with vegetable oils – most commonly rapeseed (or canola), soybean, sunflower and some tropical oils (mostly palm and coconut oils). It’s a quick and tasty addition to toasts, hot biscuits and fresh muffins. Melted margarine is a yummy and nutritious topping on your steamy vegetables, pasta or freshly popped popcorn. You can also use it for frying, roasting, sautéing, and grilling or as an ingredient for pastries and cookies.

What is so special about margarine?

The secret to great tasting margarine is in the carefully selected mix of different vegetable oils. These oils are sources of good fats (including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) that help to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Most quality margarines also contain vitamins A, D and frequently vitamin E.Margarine comes in 3 forms: soft and spreadable margarines (in tub), liquid cooking blends (in bottle) and hard blocks that are great for baking (in wrapper). Fat levels of margarine vary from 20% to 90%. This makes margarine a truly versatile food for spreading, cooking and baking.

Where does margarine originate from?

Margarine originates from the capital of cuisine: France.

When was the first margarine made?

Margarine and spreads have been staples in family’s kitchens for generations. The first margarine recipe was written down in 1869.

What is margarine made of?

Basically, margarine can be made with three major ingredients:
• a carefully selected blend of vegetable oils – most commonly rapeseed (or canola), soybean, sunflower and linseed oil;
• tropical fats (mostly palm and coconut oil) to give margarine its pleasurable texture;
• and water
Lecithin (also present in egg yolk) is added to help mix the oil and water easily. Depending on taste preferences, the blend is subsequently mixed with citric acid (like in lemon juice) and salt.

How is margarine made?

Margarine is made with a carefully selected blend of vegetable oils. To make the liquid oils spreadable, some tropical fat (mostly palm and coconut oils) is added. The blend of vegetable oils and fats is subsequently mixed with water, citric acid (like in lemon juice) and salt, depending on taste preferences. Lecithin (also present in egg yolk) is added to help mix the oil and water easily. In the final step the oil and water mix is cooled down, while stirring continuously to make it smooth and soft.

What different types of margarine are there?

Margarine comes in 3 forms: soft and spreadable margarines (in tub), liquid cooking blends (in bottle) and hard blocks that are great for baking (in wrapper). Apart from that, it comes in fat levels varying from 20% to 90%. This makes margarine a truly versatile food.

What are the differences between margarine, minarine and reduced fat spreads?

These are all fat spreads made with vegetable oils and fats. The only difference is their fat content. Traditionally, margarine must contain a minimum of 80% fat. Low fat spreads or minarine have a fat content of around 40%, whilst very low fat spreads can have as little as 20% fat.

How to make my own homemade margarine?

Making homemade margarine is a pretty simple five-step process that anyone can do:

–     Melt 20g coconut or palm fat in a bowl using the microwave or au bain marie.
–     Add 3 tablespoons (30g) of vegetable oil (e.g. sunflower oil) to the bowl and put the bowl in ice water.
–     Mix the content of the bowl at the lowest speed of the mixer.
–     Take the bowl out of the ice water and add 2 teaspoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of egg yolk. Start mixing until you have a smooth and soft margarine.
–     Add salt, lemon juice, pepper or herbs to your own liking.

Follow this recipe, and enjoy on a slice of your favourite bread!

Cooking

How can margarine be used?

Margarine is a quick and tasty addition to toasts, hot biscuits and fresh muffins. Melted margarine is a yummy and nutritious topping on your steamy vegetables, pasta or freshly popped popcorn. You can also use it for frying, roasting, sautéing, and grilling or as an ingredient for pastries, cakes, cookies and many desserts.

Can margarine be used to replace butter?

Yes. Margarine is a tasty and healthy alternative in just about every recipe or application that calls for butter. It is a quick and tasty addition to toasts, hot biscuits and fresh muffins. Melted margarine is a yummy and nutritious topping on your steamy vegetables, pasta or freshly popped popcorn. You can also use it for frying, roasting, sautéing, and grilling or as an ingredient for pastries, cakes, cookies and many desserts.

Can margarine be used for baking?

Yes. Margarine is the baker’s best friend. Fat contributes texture and browning properties to foods. This is critical to know when baking. Any of the margarine formats is suitable: liquid margarines (in bottle), hard margarines (in wrapper) and soft margarines (in tub).

Can I make margarine myself at home?

Of course. Making margarine is pretty simple:
– Melt 20g of palm or coconut fat in a bowl using the microwave or au bain marie
– Add 3 table spoons (30g) of vegetable oil (e.g. sunflower oil) to the bowl and put the bowl in ice water.
– Mix the content of the bowl at the lowest speed of the mixer.
– Take the bowl out of the ice water and add 2 tea spoons of milk and 2 tea spoons of egg yolk. Start mixing until you have a smooth and soft margarine.
– Add salt, lemon juice, pepper or herbs to your own liking.

Follow this recipe, and enjoy on a slice of your favourite bread!

Do the good fats in margarine survive cooking and baking?

The vegetable oils and fats in margarine can withstand the heat of cooking and baking. You will still find good fats (including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) in your final recipe.

What makes margarine so appetizing?

The secret to great tasting margarine is in the carefully selected mix of different vegetable oils – most commonly rapeseed (or canola), soybean, sunflower and linseed oil. Tropical fats (mostly palm and coconut oils) give margarine its pleasurable texture. You can enjoy margarine on a slice of fresh artisan bread, hot biscuits or fresh muffins.

Melted margarine is a delicious topping on your steamy vegetables, pasta or freshly popped popcorn. When baking, soft and liquid margarines give good volume and texture to your pastry cakes and cookies. You can also use margarine for a pleasing golden brown color in any frying, roasting, sautéing or grilling.

Healthy

What’s in margarine that makes it so good for us?

Margarine is made with a carefully selected mix of different vegetable oils. These oils are sources of good fats (including omega 3 and 6) that help to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Most quality margarines also contain vitamin A, D and E.

What about margarine and weight gain?

Margarine is made with vegetable oils – most commonly rapeseed (or canola), soybean, sunflower and some tropical oils (mostly palm and coconut oils). Everyone needs a moderate amount of good oils or fats. Fats give energy for the body, provide essential nutrients, satiate our hunger and make food taste delicious! At the same time, fats and oils provide the most concentrated source of calories of any foodstuff. Too much fat in your diet and limited exercise will cause you to gain weight.

To be classified margarine, fat content must be 80% or more, similar to butter. Over the years, margarine makers have reduced the fat & calorie content. These lower fat options officially go by the name “spreads”. Same goes for this document: we refer to margarine because that is the name most people use; however, in most cases, we’re actually referring to spreads.

Are there any trans fats in margarines?

Trans fats are naturally occurring in dairy products and meats from ruminant animals. They are also formed in vegetable oils through partial hydrogenation. In former times, partial hydrogenation of oils has been used to make margarine from vegetable oils. As these trans fats were shown to have a negative effect on blood cholesterol levels, the great majority of margarines today do not contain partially hydrogenated fats anymore, so also no resulting trans fats.

Green

What is sustainable sourcing?

Palm, coconut, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower are crops that are grown and traded all over the world. By sustainable sourcing the oils used in margarine, we can protect the planet’s natural resources and, at the same time, ensure security of supply for the long term

What is the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil?

The Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil enables numerous initiatives to ensure the sustainable sourcing of palm oil. RSPO principlesstipulate a significantly reduced use of pesticides and fires, fair treatment of workers, and the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land. Please visit www.rspo.org to find out more!

What is the Round Table on Responsible Soy?

The Round Table on Sustainable Soy promotes responsible production, processing and trading of soy on a global level – to reduce social environmental impacts, while maintaining or improving the economic status for the producers. Please visit www.responsiblesoy.org to find out more.

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About us

Founded in 1958 and based in Brussels, the International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe (IMACE) represents margarine manufacturers, producing both for retail and business to business (B2B) sectors throughout Europe. IMACE is also the voice of margarine manufacturers to key stakeholders/authorities of the European Union and other international organisations. IMACE and its Member Associations and Companies are members of IFMA, the International Federation of Margarine Associations. IMACE is member of FoodDrinkEurope, the European Food and Drink Industry Federation.

Go to www.imace.org  or contact us