Renovated butter is a product made from butter that either has gone rancid, or that was impure. The purpose is to end up with a butter that is usable for human consumption.
The butter is melted. The butterfat is collected from the resultant liquid and any foreign material filtered out. Air might be forced through it as well if needed to remove any undesirable odours.
The butterfat is then mixed with water (usually at least 16%), some good milk, cream or skimmed-milk for flavour, then churned, and made back into butter, then packaged for sale.
Strict conditions are attached to its sale everywhere. Typically, Renovated Butter has to be sold clearly labelled “Renovated Butter”, and the word “renovated” has to be at least as big as the word “butter.” In some places, sale to consumers is not permitted at all.
Renovated Butter was particularly popular in America at the turn of the 1900s. It was a form of butter that could come closer to competing price-wise with margarine. At the turn of the 1900s, the largest producer of renovated butter was the “Illinois Creamery” (established 1896 in Elgin, Illinois), which had 30 workers (it was sold in 1906 to the “American Farm Products Company”). As margarine got cheaper Renovated Butter faded as a viable competitor altogether.
Renovated Butters were generally not considered a person’s first choice as a dairy spread. Some were the consistency of axle grease. It was included in soldiers’ rations during the first world war. A lot of it came from Australia. Some soldiers said that it didn’t taste of much; other said it was better than having nothing to spread on their bread at all. For a time, a good deal of Renovated Butter was sold by Americans to the UK. This eventually opened the door for sales of Canadian butter to the UK, because Renovated Butter gave all American butter a bad name.
Renovated Butter is also called “Process Butter.”