"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > General Cooking Information > General Cooking
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 02-01-2012, 05:24 PM   #1
Executive Chef
 
Greg Who Cooks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: in my kitchen
Posts: 3,794
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?

__________________

Greg Who Cooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 05:34 PM   #2
Wine Guy
 
Steve Kroll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 6,345
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.
__________________

Steve Kroll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 05:34 PM   #3
Chef Extraordinaire
 
taxlady's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: near Montreal, Quebec
Posts: 22,746
Send a message via Skype™ to taxlady
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.
__________________
May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.
Robert A. Heinlein
taxlady is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
Executive Chef
 
justplainbill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Eastern Long Island, New York
Posts: 4,206
Canned?
I've had some unsalted butter that was quite sweet and went nicely with bread and fruit preserves.
justplainbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 545
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.
Siegal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Cape Coral Florida
Posts: 441
Both. Salted for toast, unsalted for cooking
__________________
Burrowing Owl Brewery----Better things for better living...Through Debauchery and Inebriation
niquejim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 06:24 PM   #7
Head Chef
 
GLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,216
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.
__________________
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
GLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 06:25 PM   #8
Executive Chef
 
Greg Who Cooks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: in my kitchen
Posts: 3,794
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.
Greg Who Cooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 06:30 PM   #9
Head Chef
 
GLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,216
Quote:
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.
__________________
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
GLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
Executive Chef
 
Greg Who Cooks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: in my kitchen
Posts: 3,794
Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
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!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
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.
Greg Who Cooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 07:13 PM   #11
Sous Chef
 
PolishedTopaz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: East End of Long Island
Posts: 915
I am in the salted butter camp myself. I read or saw somewhere {Jacques or one of those other French Chefs} scoff and toss out salted butter when found opting for unsalted, baking and cooking. "Back-in-the-day" it was imperative to salt butter for spoilage reasons. As time went on people just seemed to prefer the taste.
__________________
Just because someone tells you that you can't do something doesn't mean you have to listen.
PolishedTopaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 07:25 PM   #12
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Zhizara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 12,456
I prefer salted butter also.
__________________

If you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.
Zhizara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 07:49 PM   #13
Master Chef
 
DaveSoMD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Maryland
Posts: 7,083
I started buying unsalted for baking and it was just easier and less confusing to keep only one kind in the house so now that is what I use. Although I have been known to buy the salted if no baking is imminent and it is on sale for a really good price (K-Mart had salted butter for $2.00 lb not too long ago.)
__________________
Quoth the chicken, "Fry some more."
AB - Good Eats: Fry Hard II
DaveSoMD is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 08:09 PM   #14
Master Chef
 
FrankZ's Avatar
Site Administrator
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Posts: 9,729
I use unsalted for cooking and baking and usually have one stick (or part thereof) in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.

I keep salted butter in the butter bell for spreading.
__________________
"First you start with a pound of bologna..."
-My Grandmother on how to make ham salad.
FrankZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 08:33 PM   #15
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Katie H's Avatar
Site Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: I live in the Heartland of the United States - Western Kentucky
Posts: 16,015
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
I use unsalted for cooking and baking and usually have one stick (or part thereof) in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.

I keep salted butter in the butter bell for spreading.
Just about exactly what we do. Haven't seen any reason to do any thing any differently.
__________________
"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
This is real inspiration. Look what Julia became!
Katie H is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2012, 09:35 PM   #16
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 46,306
The argument that salt is added to butter as a preservative or to mask off flavors in older cream is an outdated one. With modern manufacturing and supply processes, this is simply not an issue. Dairys deliver cream to butter plants daily. It is processed into butter. Some has salt added and some doesn't. It's shipped out and sold.

For quite a long time recipes were developed using salted butter because that's all there was generally available. Betty Crocker, Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks all used salted butter. Switching to unsalted won't make a recipe better. There isn't a lot of salt in salted butter. It's not what's going to make a difference in your life.
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 12:04 AM   #17
Chef Extraordinaire
 
buckytom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: My mountain
Posts: 21,539
unsalted. i can always add my own salt, and i'd be more apt to taste the salt more that way (still crystallized), therefore in less quantity which s better for my health.

and fresh butter, really fresh, is awesome. no need for salt unless you want it.
.
that's often the case with people who aren't affected cardiovascularly by salt, so they saturate their tastebuds with it. but that's another thread.
__________________
The past is gone it's all been said.
So here's to what the future brings,
I know tomorrow you'll find better things
buckytom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 10:06 AM   #18
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Central Kentucky---Where The Bluegrass Meets The Mountains
Posts: 266
I'd always used unsalted for everything, just cuz that's how I grew up. When I started working with historic foods I began using salted butter. It should be obvious why.

In my experience with the two: When I use salted butter for cooking, I can not tell the difference between it and unsalted. However, if used as a spread on breadstuff, the saltiness comes right through.

FWIW: The salt content of modern butter is there as a flavor element. There's not enough of it to actually serve as a preservation medium.

So, what it boils down to, IMO, is that salted or salted is a matter of personal taste, rather than something that really makes a difference.
__________________
Most people spoil garden things by over-boiling them... if they are overboiled they have neither any sweetness or beauty. Hannah Glasse 1745
HistoricFoodie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2012, 09:28 PM   #19
Chef Extraordinaire
 
taxlady's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: near Montreal, Quebec
Posts: 22,746
Send a message via Skype™ to taxlady
A couple of posts mention that there isn't that much salt in salted butter.

I decided to check the nutrition info. Turns out the salted butter in Canada, or at least in Quebec, is saltier than the US stuff.

10 grams of salted, Canadian butter, ~ 2 teaspoons: 80 mg of sodium
10 grams of salted, US butter: 58 mg of sodium

That could add up really quickly. 100 grams of butter - 800 mg of sodium in Canada, 580 mg of sodium in the US and that's less than a 1/4 pound of butter. It's in a lot of recipes.

2400 mg is the recommended daily amount of sodium.
__________________
May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.
Robert A. Heinlein
taxlady is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2012, 09:40 PM   #20
Executive Chef
 
Greg Who Cooks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: in my kitchen
Posts: 3,794
I did a very rough translation from 2400 mg into teaspoons and got 1/2 a teaspoon as my answer. Note that this included a very iffy conversion from weight to volume measure, arguably flawed at best.

I'm very bothered by the amount of salt people consume (in US, CA, EU or anywhere) but I'm particularly bothered by the amount of salt that I myself consume. Half a teaspoon is getting into the area that I'm very uncomfortable with. I think the 2400 mg RDA is very important, important enough that I think everybody should heed the warning and set that as their maximum.

Only problem is, there's so much salt in everything that it's hard to tell when you're nearing the borderline.
__________________

Greg Who Cooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
butter

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:43 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
×