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Butter: salted v. unsalted

 
 
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:07 pm
I have always bought unsalted butter but lately I have become addicted to this Irish butter that is salted.

Because this butter is a bit more expensive than regular butter I usually use it in recipes where the butter is uncooked -- on bread, tossed with pasta, that sort of thing.

Since my addiction began I noted that most recipes don't specify which kind of butter to use and I'm wondering if it makes a difference.

If I was making something really special and wanted to use the "good" butter would I need to adjust any salt added to the recipe?

Thanks!
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:09 pm
@boomerang,
Huh.

I always buy salted butter and use it in baking. I've never noticed that things taste saltier than I'd expect.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:11 pm
I don't know the answers, but myself, I use unsalted organic butter, and then add sea salt if I want any.
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:11 pm
i always use unsalted butter, i find it tastes sweeter, that might be just an imagination but that's the way i see it
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:14 pm
I have both - the Irish one is really good and I like it on bread and for cooking.
Sometimes I have a taste for sweet butter then I use that one....

I never use margarine or any other substitute to butter.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  3  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:14 pm
@boomerang,
I buy UNsalted Irish or New Zealand butter, so I don't know why you are only finding salted. I think using salted butter can cause a recipe to become too salty. It's fine for popcorn, frying eggs and maybe sauteing vegetables and fish, but I would never use it in baking. You could look for American grass-fed cow butters, most are unsalted, but they are even more expensive than the imported.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:15 pm
In think "regular" butter refers to sweet creamery butter that is lightly salted. Unsalted butter is a separate thing and is specified in some baking recipes or sauces.

I use unsalted butter for drawn butter for seafood.

If you use unsalted butter in a recipe that doesn't call for it you could always salt it to taste.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:15 pm
@djjd62,
i should add, when i use butter, which isn't often
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:16 pm
I'm reporting you-all for assaulting your mother!
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:22 pm
Margarine is not found in my house. I have never seen the need to have unsalted butter around, if the recipe calls for unsalted then i use the salted and cut back on the salt until I taste test. I have had people go Dick Cheney on me about how it has to be UNSALTED....I ignore them and have never regretted doing so.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:25 pm
@boomerang,
I won't use salted butter for baking, unless the recipe specifically calls for it (which is very rare).

I generally don't like salted butter on/with anything - makes things taste, well, too salty for me. One big exception - air-popped popcorn. It needs salted butter and Paul Prudhomme's unsalted seasoning.

In terms of recipes, my experience through Taunton is that American recipes tend to expect you're using salted (regular) butter, while European recipes expect that you're using unsalted/sweet butter. The American recipes then add more salt again on top of the salted butter.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:34 pm
@boomerang,
Agreeing with ehbeth re recipe expectations.

The Land 'o Lakes folks say it doesn't matter which you use.

Quote:
Description

* Butter tenderizes a baked product. It also adds color and flavor that is impossible to replicate.

* Butter is available lightly salted (salt acts as a preservative) or unsalted. Unsalted butter offers a delicate, cultured flavor.

...

Substitutions

* Unsalted butter may be substituted for salted butter or vice versa. It is not necessary to alter the amount of salt in the recipe.


source
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:35 pm
Interesting responses! Thanks! I've never given much thought to the matter and it is interesting to see what people choose and why they do so.

I don't use that much butter either, which is why I'm willing to splurge and break my "shop local" rule about this Irish butter. (I usually use Tillimook dairy products since it is a "local" company as it is in this state, and it's good).

I was thinking maybe it was just the salt that got me addicted to this other butter but I bought some Tillimook salted butter and it didn't woo me. It was good but it wasn't wow good. So yeah... I see where eBeth is coming from -- maybe it is the amount of salt used.

I typically don't use salt either though, because I like Tabasco sauce and it has a lot of salt. Tabasco takes the place of pepper for me too because I like red pepper better than black pepper.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:36 pm
Here is a cut and past from the on-line version of The Joy of Cooking:

Quote:
Butter is made from churned sweet cream and in the United States must contain at least 80 percent butterfat. Butter also contains water and milk solids. Sometimes a coloring agent (Annatto) is added to salted butter to give it a deep yellow color. In the U.S. butter is graded by letter code according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body. AA, A, and B are the letter codes used. Grade AA (I use Land O Lakes brand) will give you maximum results in your baking because of its sweet aroma and flavor as well as its smooth creamy texture.

Butter comes in two forms salted and unsalted. Salt is added to butter for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a longer shelf life. However, salt can overpower the sweet flavor of the butter and can also mask any odors. Salted butter also contains higher water content.

I prefer to use unsalted butter because of its taste (fresher and more delicate flavor). Also, the amount of salt added to salted butter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and it is hard to know how much extra salt to add to your recipe. The rule of thumb is that if you are substituting salted for unsalted butter in a recipe, omit the extra salt in the recipe (i.e. Omit ¼ teaspoon of salt per ½ cup of butter). Unsalted butter has a short shelf life because it contains no preservatives. Most butter has an expiry date on it. However, if you buy unsalted butter and do not use it right away, it is best to freeze it. You can freeze butter for around six months if it is well wrapped so that it will not pick up odors. Just make sure you defrost the butter overnight in the refrigerator before using it.

Never use whipped butter in baking as it has air whipped into it that changes the volume of the butter.

Butter adds flavor and texture to your baking and helps to keep it fresh. It is used as an ingredient in baking but can also be melted and brushed on baking pans to prevent sticking. The temperature of the butter is very important in baking. When room temperature butter is used in your recipe this means your butter should be between 65 and 70 degrees F. This temperature allows the maximum amount of air to be beaten into your batter. This creaming or beating of your butter or butter and sugar creates air bubbles that your leavener (baking powder or baking soda) will enlarge during baking. Most experts recommend 4 to 5 minutes of creaming the butter.

Cold butter is used in some baking (pie crusts). With this method the butter is not absorbed as much by the starch in the flour and layers result when baked thus creating flakiness.

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:43 pm
@ehBeth,
I used to use unsalted butter (my local creameries have salted and unsalted) for just about everything. Recently, due to cutting my grocery spending, I buy salted - but, but, but, I use way less salt in my cooking than most recipes call for, in baking or otherwise, and usually at least halve the sugar. In making soups, etc., it depends on what I'm adding. If I add anything that has come in a can or package then even with rinsing it will have a lot of salt to start with - I usually don't add any at all.

I tried an irish butter years ago that was delicious; forget the name. I tried some irish butter more recently, perhaps four years ago, and ... eh! But I don't think the brand name was the same as I've been seeing in some posts here, so I suppose there is some out there that I need to try. Probably at Whole Foods, or TJs, but I never get to either of those. I guess there is nothing like real butter from your own grass fed cow..
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:52 pm
@ossobuco,
The butter I've gotten hooked on is sold, for some reason, in the cheese section, not in the butter section of my regular grocery (but it's a good grocery with a big selection).

I don't have a new slab of it here so I can't tell you the name but I do know it is in a gold wrapper and says "pure Irish butter" in green. The ingredients are "cream, salt".
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:57 pm
@boomerang,
Hmmm, maybe they have it at Sunflower. Time for an expedition (I like their olive oil too - tasty enough and I can buy it by the near-gallon).
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:57 pm
@boomerang,
Probably Kerrygold:

http://www.epicurious.com/promo/gourmetinstitute/images/johnny2.jpg
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:49 pm
@Green Witch,
That's the one I've seen mentioned recently, that I want to try.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 11:24 pm
Alton Brown's show on butter. Lots of good content including salt vs. unsalted, fat content, packaging, storage, etc. Worth watching the whole episode.


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