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Jun 23, 2008 03:45 PM

Salted Butter Confession

I confess that I always use salted butter. I prefer salted butter for the table,and we go through so little butter I can't be bothered to purchase 2 kinds of butter. If the recipe calls for any salt at all, and unsalted butter, I simply reduce the added salt to compensate for having salted butter, usually at a rate of about 1/4 t. per stick of butter when I'm baking and going by measurement. With savory dishes, I always add salt to taste, so I don't worry about it. I generally tend to use start with less salt than recipes call for, and a few tablespoons of salted butter isn't going to rock the boat too badly. Anyone else a renegade about the current insistence on cooking with unsalted butter?

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  1. Nope only use unsalted but not a current thing, it is what my Mom used and grew up eating it...well that and I Cant Believe Its Not Butter, now that I got rid of the day I moved out! But when eating Crab legs, Lobster and Artichokes....has to be salted butter.

    1. We like unsalted, but I did pick up the bulk-store size pack of Salted butter once. I don't think anyone noticed but me. And we use minimal butter as a rule, unless my husband cooks and he thinks everything needs a lump in it. And he butters EACH individual pancake (the little darling!) which I find amusing as well as a tiny bit disgusting (ok, I find it REALLY nasty). I developed an unhealthy habit of cooking many things in both olive oil AND a small lump of butter, but I've toned it down.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Boccone Dolce

        is that strange to butter each individual pancake? How else do you keep that buttery flavor consistent in each bite?

        1. re: hyacinthgirl

          agree, every pancake must be buttered, thoroughly, allowed to melt into the pancake.. and the syrup should go on each pancake as well.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I poke holes in the top of mine to make sure the butter melts INTO the pancake and doesn't get wasted running off the sides!

          2. re: hyacinthgirl

            It's the obscene amount of butter he uses. We aren't frequent pancakers, so when he gets them, he goes for it!

            1. re: Boccone Dolce

              a proper pancake deserves to be treated to at least three pats of butter.

        2. "Current" insistence? It's pretty longstanding for baking.

          In US supermarkets, unsalted butter is generally fresher (it spoils faster, since salt is a preservative, and so it can't be kept on market shelves as long and thus it less likely to pick up off odors from the surrounding goods, et cet). Americans follow the Anglo-Irish preference for using uncultured (aka sweet) cream, which may be too bland for those who prefer the more complex flavor of, let's say, French-style butters.

          I think there are many who only buy unsalted butter and add salt to their taste (adding a nicely textured natural salt is a wonderful compensation for this minimal amount of effort).

          18 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            Unsalted cultured butter for me. I'll actually leave some out at room temp so that it develops a tanginess akin to a ripe brie.

            1. re: mrbozo

              mrbozo, i saw your mention of this on a different thread and am quite intrigued. does this work for salted butters, too? i have to confess that i'm a salted butter fan, as well -- for everything, including baking. i run a fair amount and sweat, so i do love my sodium.

              1. re: cimui

                I don't believe this type of "aging" would work with uncultured or salted butter since it is the bacteria that are encouraged to do their thing.

            2. re: Karl S

              I do that. Buy unsalted butter and add salt if I need to. Good butter with some fleur de sel transforms bread and butter to a new level.

              1. re: Karl S

                "Current" -- I am showing my age, back in the 60's and 70's, you were lucky to find a baking recipe that called for butter at all, usually crisco or margarine was the default fat, and the few recipes that called for butter never specified, but everyone used salted butter back then. Guess I am showing my age!

                1. re: dkenworthy

                  My mother used butter and lard. But then, she and my father were new arrivals to this side of the pond.

                  1. re: dkenworthy

                    Agree with dk that everyone used salted butter in the 60's and 70's, but not that "you were lucky to find a baking recipe that called for butter at all." Pretty much all the butter back then was salted. A quick check of versions of Joy of Cooking and the 1975 edition, when listing butter as an ingredient, just specifies "butter." The next "new and Improved" Joy that came out in the 80's always specifies unsalted butter in baking recipes. I think unsalted butter just became chic in the 80's. I'm willing to bet it was a Martha Stewart thing....

                    So, if you are using an older recipe that just asks for butter, you should use salted.

                    By the way, my name is Clamscasino, and I only buy salted butter. Mr. Clam puts unsalted better in the "pay more, get less" category.

                    1. re: clamscasino

                      unsalted butter costs more in your area?
                      it's the same here, but i prefer the unsalted for taste reasons (and add natural sea salt to my own taste).

                      1. re: dinaofdoom

                        Yeah, it costs more - significantly more, actually. But I admit that I haven't looked lately. But I will.

                        1. re: clamscasino

                          that is so weird...
                          here in austin, when i buy unsalted butter at HEB (big local grocery chain) i could swear it's the same price...

                          1. re: dinaofdoom

                            I just checked online at several of my local supermarkets, and LOL salted/unsalted butter are both the same price, as are their store brands and Cabot brand. I've never heard of unsalted butters being significantly more expensive than salted.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I checked yesterday at the local grocery and, I was wrong, there was no difference....but when unsalted butter first hit the shelves, years ago, it was more expensive.

                              1. re: clamscasino

                                If theywere the same price here (Toronto), I would use more unsalted. But unsalted here is more expensive.

                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                  "But unsalted here is more expensive."
                                  I guess they have to pay someone NOT to put in the salt, hence the additional cost.

                                  1. re: Rmis32

                                    Salted butter is more expensive because they must use better ingredients and move it faster because it doesn't have the salt to cover up off-flavors and act as a preservative.

                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                      I think you mean unsalted, and I don't exactly agree. I find it very hard to believe that any "brand name" butter does anything different in preparing and packaging their salted and unsalted butters other than add salt to the salted one. Granted, salted will keep longer so that may add to the price of the unsalted since there'd be more spoilage, but even that appears to be a limited regional thing these days. I can't recall seeing salted and unsalted of the same brand at different prices in the US in many years.

                                2. re: clamscasino

                                  Yes, when I first started cooking, unsalted butter was more expensive (and usually only came in half-pound packages). But now I think it's almost always the same price.

                                  As for "paying more, getting less" -- when you add salt, that means there's less butter in your pound of butter. Since salt costs less per pound than butter, you're getting less value when you buy salted butter. ;-)

                                  I think the original reason for the price discrepancy was that it was a "specialty" product and it sold more slowly/smaller volume, both of which make a product more expensive (especially since, as noted, unsalted butter spoils more quickly, and thus if it sells slowly, there's going to be more spoilage). Now that more people are buying unsalted butter, I think there's no reason for the differential, and it has for the most part disappeared.

                                  1. re: clamscasino

                                    Unsalted butter is actually *less* expensive from my primary grocery source (in NYC).

                    2. I am. I only buy one kind of salted butter and I use it for everything. I rarely bake, but when I do, I don't even make allowances for the extra salt in the butter like you do. I've never noticed a difference and no one's ever said anything about it...but then, I like salt.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: akq

                        I only use salted butter for cooking, and I have only rarely gone out of my way to purchase unsalted butter for baking. I adjust my recipes by simply using less salt when I add it later on to either season my food, or when it comes time to add the usual teaspoon of butter to the cookie dough I am mixing. I have never noticed a difference. I think it is because you just learn to adjust the seasoning to taste. We don't like using unsalted butter on bread, so it is highly likely to sit unused unless I have gone out of my way to buy it for a recipe and plan to use it all. We are as likely to use a high quality domestic or even European salted butter on bread as we are a grocery quality. It all depends on where I went shopping, and that might be Sam's or Costco if I have holiday cookies to bake. I have never noticed freshness issues, and butter is generally packaged well enough to prevent food odors from entering unopened packages and sticks. I also keep it in the top little drawer in the fridge, away from anything that might impart a bad flavor, like tuna salad (which is always in Tupperware anyway).

                        I realize that all of the television cooks and authors of cookbooks since time began have specified unsalted, but I can't be bothered with the double inventory because the unsalted goes to waste in my house. I think we just don't use enough butter to make a significant difference in the salt required for most recipes.

                      2. I definitely prefer salted.