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Old 02-01-2012, 05:24 PM   #1
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Butter: salted or unsalted?

I've always used unsalted butter for two reasons: you can always add salt but can hardly take it away, and it seems to me that too many of our foods have salt added so I get better control by not using salted butter.

About the only thing I was able to discover by Googling my question is that some people think unsalted butter is likely to be fresher, presumably because salt can be used to extend the shelf life of butter.

I have my reasons for using unsalted butter, but I'm having difficulty finding reasons why anybody would want to use unsalted. The only idea I've been able to come up with is possibly when butter is used as a spread (like on toast) people like a little salt taste and it's convenient to not have to sprinkle salt as an extra step.

So I give up. Why use salted butter?

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Old 02-01-2012, 05:34 PM   #2
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I suppose it's a matter of personal choice.

The only kind of butter I buy is something called pasture butter, which is cultured and lightly salted. I find unsalted butter to be distinctly lacking in flavor, and since I use butter more as a spread or food flavoring agent than for cooking, I prefer it to be lightly salted.
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Old 02-01-2012, 05:34 PM   #3
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I leave butter out, so it will be spreadable. If I do that with unsalted butter, it goes off quicker. I also like the taste of salted butter. I like the taste of unsalted butter too. Now that I have started watching my salt intake, I will probably switch to unsalted.

BTW, did you know that unsalted butter keeps longer in the freezer than salted butter. I imagine it is because salt lowers the freezing point of water.
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Old 02-01-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
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I've had some unsalted butter that was quite sweet and went nicely with bread and fruit preserves.
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Old 02-01-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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I think your right it depends how you use it. I almost never use butter as a spread on bread. I usually use it in baking or for cooking. So I usually buy the unsalted. Sometimes salt added to things can throw a recipe off - I made a cake and could only find salted pistachios and between that and the salted butter I used (brought it home from parent's restaurant and we use salted there) it was not the ideal situation. So I agree - you can always add - never take away.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
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Both. Salted for toast, unsalted for cooking
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:24 PM   #7
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You may want to buy salted butter if it's a longer keeping time matters, but you can freeze it if that's a problem. I seriously doubt distributors are keeping butter around for different amounts of time according to whether it's salted or not. In spite of the common claim, I can find no authority claiming actual knowledge of it. They don't have to do that. They have control of production. And think about it. Salting retards spoilage. Is there any difference between unspoiled unsalted butter and salted butter. And if they wanted a sure fire way to keep it for a long time, they'd just freeze it or freeze the milk supply until needed.

I buy and use unsalted for two reasons. I try when possible to cultivate a lesser taste for salt. I like salty - a lot. So I try to do with less and learn to like it. It's not a health thing. My kidneys work just fine, thank you, meaning they do their job of managing salt. But there are purer and subtle flavors that I think too much salt masks. Plus, salted butter calls too strongly to me, and by keeping nothing but unsalted, I'm less likely to smear butter or smear it so heavily on something.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
I leave butter out, so it will be spreadable. If I do that with unsalted butter, it goes off quicker. I also like the taste of salted butter. I like the taste of unsalted butter too. Now that I have started watching my salt intake, I will probably switch to unsalted.
I guess I'm beginning to understand, and it looks like my conjecture that salted butter is often preferred for a "better" (saltier) taste when using it as a spread. I often use margarine rather than butter as a spread.

And oddly, when making bread I probably use more salt than some folks (or prefer making salty breads, particularly focaccia with sea salt sprinkled on top). Maybe I'm just putting my salt into my bread instead of into my butter.

Like Siegal I use butter more often in cooking and baking. I use unsalted and then just salt to taste separately. I also often put butter over hot vegetables, and again salt it as a separate step.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
BTW, did you know that unsalted butter keeps longer in the freezer than salted butter. I imagine it is because salt lowers the freezing point of water.
I didn't know that, but partly because 3/4 a pound of butter lasts me forever in the freezer (one in the refrigerator and the other three in the freezer). I don't use a lot because I tend to use vegetable oils in cooking and often reserve butter for the recipes where it is ideally suited.

I don't know about the conjecture but of course salt does lower the FP of water. However I believe salt extends the shelf life of butter even in refrigeration or apparently even at room temperature.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
And oddly, when making bread I probably use more salt than some folks (or prefer making salty breads, particularly focaccia with sea salt sprinkled on top).
I do too. Probably a bad habit, but it's sure good. I suppose I should make some effort to reduce it and get closer to the flavor of the bread.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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I seriously doubt distributors are keeping butter around for different amounts of time according to whether it's salted or not. In spite of the common claim, I can find no authority claiming actual knowledge of it. They don't have to do that. They have control of production. And think about it. Salting retards spoilage. Is there any difference between unspoiled unsalted butter and salted butter. And if they wanted a sure fire way to keep it for a long time, they'd just freeze it or freeze the milk supply until needed.
I'm not sure if it came out in my OP but I too was scoffing the idea that there would be any different supply chain for salted vs. unsalted butter.

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I buy and use unsalted for two reasons. I try when possible to cultivate a lesser taste for salt. I like salty - a lot. So I try to do with less and learn to like it. It's not a health thing. My kidneys work just fine, thank you, meaning they do their job of managing salt. But there are purer and subtle flavors that I think too much salt masks. Plus, salted butter calls too strongly to me, and by keeping nothing but unsalted, I'm less likely to smear butter or smear it so heavily on something.
I too have been focusing for years on decreasing my taste for salt. In fact I've taken it too fat (perhaps) in that I've reached the point where many foods (particularly convenience foods) taste so overly salted to me that I dislike their taste. I'm taking this as an indication of how the public has been gotten used to ever larger doses of salt, to the point that these salt lovers sway the producers into making saltier foods. I forgot the statistic but it's disgusting when you look up modern per capita use of salt.

Salt was a great idea a thousand or two thousand years ago. It was often hard to get enough. In modern times it seems to have shifted to being difficult to not get too much!

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I do too. Probably a bad habit, but it's sure good. I suppose I should make some effort to reduce it and get closer to the flavor of the bread.
Nah! Salty bread is good! But too much bread is bad for you (refined carbohydrates). Just eat reasonable portions when you serve bread.

I wonder how many DC members are like me: I tend to limit my baking of bread because home made bread is so good that I eat too much unless I bake only rarely.
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