unsalted butter or not

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nicole

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If a recipe calls for unsalted butter. do you actually have to put in unsalted butter. what is the differ between salted and unsalted butter (I do know that one is salted and ones not)? A differ taste? Don't get it. :oops:
 

GB

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If you are baking than it might make a difference. If you are just cooking then they are pretty much interchangeable. Salted butter is usually a lower quality butter. The salt acts as a preservative so the manufacturer can use a lower quality butter and it will last just as long as a higher quality unsalted butter. Other than quality and obviously salt, they are the same thing.
 

nicole

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Thanks GB. I was just sitting here and thinking if there was a differ.
 

GB

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I personally always use unsalted. I like to be able to control the exact amount of salt I put in things. Honestly though, the amount of salt in salted butter would be hard to detect in most dishes in which you are adding salt anyway. At least that is my humble opinion ;)
 

Michael in FtW

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Normally, unsalted butter is specified so that you can control the amount of salt in the recipe. This probably wouldn't make as much difference in cooking as it could in baking and some sauces.

This example is a little extreme - but kind of the same idea ... say a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt, and you use 1 tablespoon garlic salt a 1 teaspoon salt. Yuck! :(

Since the amount of salt can vary from one producer to the next, unsalted sets a baseline of 0% salt and works from there with the rest of the recipe.

Yes, there is a flavor difference ... for things like buttering my pancakes, toast and biscuits I use salted butter. For everything else, I use unsalted.
 

ironchef

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Unsalted butter will give you a better overall flavor, especially when finishing off a sauce. Keep in mind that they do not use a high quality salt in salted butter, so the flavor tends to have that bite that regular table salt can sometimes have.

For those who haven't already done so, I highly recommend switching to Kosher salt for your everyday use. The flavor is much more pure than regular table salt, and brings out more flavor in foods.
 

Claire

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I tend to buy unsalted, but sometimes do buy salted and haven't noticed that much difference. The latter has a longer shelf life (why they do it to begin with), and if I baked a lot, I'd stick to unsalted period. But, in fact, probably like most of us here, I grew up on margarine and it didn't kill me or my taste buds, and it took awhile to learn to like the real thing (and much of my family still prefer margarine). I also chime in with preferring salted when I'm just "buttering" something (as opposed to cooking with it). I guess I'm not a super-taster, because I can buy butter fresh from the dairy (I live in cheese-land, spitting distance to WI, but NO IL has a lot of dairies and cheese factories as well, and most of the latter sell fresh from the farm butter), and still haven't noticed such a huge difference in flavor. Butter also freezes very, very well (there are only two of us, so usually I buy a pound and three sticks go into the freezer right away).
 

norgeskog

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ironchef said:
Unsalted butter will give you a better overall flavor, especially when finishing off a sauce. Keep in mind that they do not use a high quality salt in salted butter, so the flavor tends to have that bite that regular table salt can sometimes have.

For those who haven't already done so, I highly recommend switching to Kosher salt for your everyday use. The flavor is much more pure than regular table salt, and brings out more flavor in foods.

I prefer Kosher salt, but cannot find a good grinder for it. Had a pepper grinder that got all bummed up with the salt. Now I only use a fine grade sea salt. As for salted vs unsalted butter, I use salted (have unsalted on hand for baking) as I do not use much salt in cooking. I only salt potatoes and eggs (unless I make a fritata or strata).
 

amber

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GB said:
If you are baking than it might make a difference. If you are just cooking then they are pretty much interchangeable. Salted butter is usually a lower quality butter. The salt acts as a preservative so the manufacturer can use a lower quality butter and it will last just as long as a higher quality unsalted butter. Other than quality and obviously salt, they are the same thing.

Thanks GB, I didnt know that salted butter was of lesser quality. I typically buy unsalted, and add salt to my recipes as needed.
 

Darkstream

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Pretty well covered allready.

I would only add that if you are into french food and make deglaze sauces that are thickened with butter at the end, unsalted gives a purer, creamier finish.

The best way to appreciate unsalted butter is on fresh , crisp crust rolls with appricot conserve and coffee as a continental breakfast. Any lapse in quality will be immediately apparent, and the pure creamy flavour comes shining through.

But I prefer some breads with salted butter. Salted butter is normally coloured with carrotene or similar to give it the "Rich" yellow quality. Not a big deal, but unsalted is the original white of concentrated cream.

If I were only going to stock one kind, it would be unsalted.

Unfortunately, butter is on the banned list.
 

Andy M.

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I don't often disagree with GB. But I do on the subject of butter quality.

Historically, salt was added to butter to retard spoilage when there was little or no refrigeration. In more recent times, salt is added to provide consumers with the taste they have become accustomed to.

With modern manufacturing, distribution and refrigeration, there is absolutely no need to preserve butter with salt or use it to mask an inferior product.

I don't imagine butter makers have two separate vats, one with good cream and the other with inferior cream. I expect they make a big batch of butter and put salt on half of it and leave it out of the other half.

It's strictly a matter of taste.
 

GB

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After reading Andys comment I have to say they make a lot of sense. I knew the salt covered the quality issues at one point, but I guess that these days that really wouldn't be an issue. Thanks for clearing that up Andy. I am constantly learning new things from you :)
 

Caine

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FYI, if you take a look at the list of ingredients, and quantities, on a package of butter, then do the calculations, you will realize that one stick (1/4 pound) of butter has approximately 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Do you really think you are going to taste the difference, either in the butter itself or in whatever recipe you use the butter in?
 

ironchef

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Caine said:
FYI, if you take a look at the list of ingredients, and quantities, on a package of butter, then do the calculations, you will realize that one stick (1/4 pound) of butter has approximately 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Do you really think you are going to taste the difference, either in the butter itself or in whatever recipe you use the butter in?

Yes. That's my job.
 

auntdot

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As far as butter goes, we use both.

On toast, muffins (English or otherwise), corn, or on any food where you will taste the butter and the only source of salt is the butter, yes, I sure do know which type is there. Salted wins hands down.

Normally we do not use a lot of salt in cooking, just a preference, not for health reasons.

For cooking, we usually use the unsalted because we have been told it is of better quality and flavor. And having tasted both many times, I agree with that assessment. Could I tell the difference between a dish cooked with salted or unsalted butter? I don't know. Have never done the experiment but my guess is no, at least if it is a minor ingredient.

Still we do it.

As Gene Wilder said in the movie the Producers, it is a minor compulsion and I can deal with it if I want to.

If we do not have unsalted, will just toss salted into the dish and not worry about it.

Now I am going to end this and rub my face with my little blue blanket.
 

luvs

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hi, nicole.
if the recipe specifies, follow that guideline.
sodium can affect the outcome of a recipe on a chemical basis.
if it doesn't specify, use salted butter.
 

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