You’re going to see an array of ingredients on label of commercially prepared margarine, and you might be surprised to know that it basically made of just three materials. This simple margarine recipe courtesy of Margie Turner from askville.amazon.com is a proof.
Gather the following ingredients: 1 cup sunflower oil, 1 tsp liquid lecithin and 1 cup cold water. Then, pour a little of the water into a blender, then add oil and lecithin. Blend briefly on high speed while adding the rest of the water. Store in refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks.
According to European Union, margarine is a water-in-oil emulsion derived from vegetable/animal fats, with a fat content of at least 80% but less than 90%. It remain solid at a temperature of 20°C and are suitable as spread. It may not have milk fat content of more than 3%. Blends and blended spreads may have milk fat between 10% and 80%.
The original raw material is beef fat. Animal fat supply was short however, so hydrogenated vegetable oils were introduced in the process, replacing or adding to animal fat, and eventually replaced it in most brands. Development continues, prominent companies made their own variations. The 80% fat Krona, blend of dairy cream and vegetable oil. The Clover, blend of cream and vegetable oil.
Lecithin is an emulsifier that hold the water phase evenly thru the oil. If only H20 molecule can hold itself to oil without a mediator, then only two ingredients would be needed.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are often constituents of shelf stable margarine – a hard and long lasting margarine under ambient condition. They are fat soluble but are not really part of. Added to for health reasons and to serve the primary purpose – product marketing.
Addition of antioxidant, preservatives and stabilizers significantly extend its shelf life to the extent that it can be placed at room temperature for long period. Most often than not, increase of raw materials is due to inclusion of most effective preservative combination.
Due to increasing awareness to healthy diet, manufacturers switched to use of trans fat free oil.
Margarine of different flavors exist but I could not remember of one that dominated the populace.
For personal use, the simple recipe often suffice. Prepare it as needed.