Can I make margarine myself at home?
Of course! Follow this easy recipe, and enjoy!
- Melt 20g of solid vegetable fat in a bowl using the microwave or au bain marie (it can be coconut fat or palm fat - Palmaline, you can buy in organic food shops).
- 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 (raw or pasteurized). Start mixing until you have a smooth and soft margarine.
- Add salt, lemon juice, pepper or herbs to your own liking.
How close is this recipe from the recipe used in the factory?
This recipe respects the basic principles of margarine making: a mix of oils, fat and water. In the factory, we can better control temperature and mixing conditions, so the blend of oils can be optimized.
In addition, in the factory, we add valuable ingredients to the vegetable oils. Certain vitamins can only be carried by fat, as they are fat soluble. Vitamins A, D and E are fat soluble vitamins. Many vegetable oils, of which margarine is made, are naturally rich in vitamin E. In addition, food legislators in many countries ask us to fortify our margarines with vitamins A and D, because they are a simple and healthy daily food source.
Carotenoids, known as the components that give colour to carrots, tomatoes and pumpkin, are added to give margarine its yellow colour. Flavour gives margarine its subtle, pleasant taste and to ensure freshness, a commonly used food preservative (potassium sorbate) is sometimes added.
How many calories do margarines contain?
The caloric content of margarine depends on how much oil is in the margarine. Typically, a 80% fat margarine contains about 720kcal/100g, a 60% fat margarine contains about 634 kcal/100g and a light margarine with 40% fat contains about 364kcal/100g. The respective calorie amount of these different margarines for an average daily intake of 20g is thus 144kcal, 126 and 72kcal. (source: Voeding Centrum)
Does margarine contain cholesterol?
No, all vegetable oils and fats are cholesterol free. As margarine is made from these vegetable oils and fats, it does not contain cholesterol.
On my margarine pack, I sometimes read minarine or reduced fat spread. What are the differences and what does it mean?
These are all fat spreads made with vegetable oils. The only difference is their fat content which can range from 10 to 90% of the final product. The denomination you see on the pack of your favourite product is actually regulated by the EU since 1994. You can see here the different legal denominations according to the fat content of the final product.
I heard trans fatty acids are very detrimental to your health. Are there some in margarines?
Scientific studies have shown that trans fatty acids (TFA) intake has adverse effects on cardiovascular diseases and international nutrition recommendations suggest limiting the daily intake of TFAs to 1% of dietary energy.
TFAs are naturally occurring in dairy products and meats from ruminant animals through the bio-hydrogenation of fats in their rumen. They are also formed in vegetable oils through partial hydrogenation, deodorisation during oil refining, heating and frying of oils at extreme temperature. Associating unconditionally the hydrogenation process with TFA is misleading as only partially hydrogenated oils and fats could contain substantial amounts of TFA. Today, the majority of hydrogenated oils and fats undergo the full hydrogenation process which does not lead to production of TFA.
This reformulation process is followed by the margarine industry for the past 15 years. Led by the IMACE Code of Practice, retail margarines are now below 2% TFA on a fat basis, equivalent to no more than 1% TFA of dietary energy on a product basis, in line with the international nutrition recommendations. IMACE B2B members surveyed in 2010 showed that they too are close to reaching the IMACE Code of Practice’s target of no more than 2% on a fat basis. EFSA recognized in its 2004 opinion that intake of TFA in European countries decreased thanks to reformulation of the margarine industry.
Thus, you can safely consume margarine without raising your TFA intake.
What is hydrogenation?
The process of full or partial hydrogenation is used to solidify oils and add texture to the final food product. Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen on double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids, making them saturated. A hydrogenated fat is therefore simply a liquid oil made solid through a special process.
Only partially hydrogenated oils and fats could contain trans fatty acids. Today, the majority of hydrogenated oils and fats undergo the full hydrogenation process and thus do not contain any trans fatty acids, as all the fatty acids are fully saturated. Nowadays, retail margarine no longer use partial hydrogenation in Europe.
Do margarine manufacturers use palm oil in their products?
Palm oil has specific functional properties that make this fat an important ingredient in food manufacturing, as it can provide taste and texture, in particular hardness, to a whole range of food products i.e. from fat spreads and margarine products to bakery and chocolate confectionary products.
In margarines, only a very small fraction of palm oil can be used and will always be blended with unsaturated fats like sunflower or rapeseed oil for an end nutritional composition high in unsaturated fats (healthy fats) and lower in saturated and trans fatty acids.
IMACE-IFMA members have joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and IMACE itself is an affiliate member. Our industry is committed to support the production of sustainable palm oil and contributes to raising awareness on this topic.
I read that margarine is only one molecule away from plastic. Is this true?
Made from the finest vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed (canola) and olive, margarine spread is an easily digested food that provides the body with essential nutrients.
Plastics are composed of long molecules called polymers, while margarine is made with only natural products, such as vegetable oils and water. There is no chemical similarity between the two.
In general, the expression “one molecule away” is misleading as the atoms forming molecules of all substances can dramatically change the properties of it. It would be like saying that hydrogen peroxide, H2O2 is one molecule away from water, H20. You may easily see that the two substances could not be more different.
Margarine is a product made with natural products and absolutely safe, healthy and tasty to eat, which is why it is recommended as part of a healthy diet by many health authoritative bodies (for example in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK).