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Old 12-20-2005, 07:54 AM   #1
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Unsalted butter vs. salted butter?

Happy Holidays everyone. My question is whether it is necessary to use unsalted butter for cookies (as often mentioned on Food Network shows) vs. using regular salted butter. None of my cookbooks say that it is necessary to use unsalted butter and I don't keep it in the house, but they will go on and on about it on the cooking shows. What do you all use and/or prefer for your cookies? Thanks.

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Old 12-20-2005, 08:58 AM   #2
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We always use unsalted butter, partly because that IS the regular version of butter sold in Italy, not the salted version, but particularly for baking sweets, we WOULD use the unsalted even if we would have to specifically look for it in the shop. Additional salt in the butter DOES affect the flavour.
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Old 12-20-2005, 09:40 AM   #3
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I use both. It may make a bit of difference, but not enough to run to the store. Salted butter keeps longer, but I use mine up so that doesn't matter with me. If a recipe calls for unsalted butter and then calls for salt in the recipe, I just cut back a bit if salted butter is what I have on hand.
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Old 12-20-2005, 03:11 PM   #4
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I'd bet either will work. My mom never used unsalted butter (she didn't know it existed) and her cookies were great.
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Old 12-20-2005, 03:26 PM   #5
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Since salt is a natural preservative, I think the main reason for using unsalted butter (other than controlling the exact amound of salt in a recipe and the fact that most iodized salt is highly processed) would be that you also know the freshness of the ingredient. I cook with whole foods, so this is very important to me.
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Old 12-20-2005, 03:50 PM   #6
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Back in the "Good Old Days" salt was added to butter as a preservative. With modern transportation, manufacturing and refrigeration, the freshness of butter is not a real issue.

Over the years, the addition of salt has become an issue of taste. There is no indication that butter manufacturers use iodized salt in their butter.
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
With modern transportation, manufacturing and refrigeration, the freshness of butter is not a real issue.
The only issue might be that since salt acts as a preservative, the salted butter you buy could be older than the non salted since it lasts longer.
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:19 PM   #8
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As salted butter probably outsells the unsalted by a factor of 5 or 6 to one, I don't think it stays around too much. Butter manufacturers make what they need. The need for butter is fairly steady for most of the year except for the holidays. I'd guess that, from the arrival of the cream at the factory to stacking of the butter on the supermarket shelves, no more than a few days elapses.
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:44 PM   #9
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There is a code on all boxes of butter indicating the date of manufacture.


There is also a code indicating the dairy that manufactures milk. The Stop and Shop milk is .20 less per quart than the Garleick (or Hood ... I can't remember) despite the fact that it comes from the very same spout.
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Old 12-20-2005, 06:00 PM   #10
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I think American butter is far more heavily salted than elsewhere. And most American recipes call for added salt, even to cookie recipes. Here in Australia, I use salted butter because it's cheaper than unsalted butter, but I NEVER add more salt to any recipe. If you're frying in salted butter, the butter will burn - that's the salt - but the problem can be reduced by adding a little oil to the butter.
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