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Does anyone else use salted butter when cooking?

RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 07:24 AM

Yes, I know that they are some recipes that just require unsalted butter, but I buy mostly salted and don't find that I need unsalted nearly as much, so I have pretty much standardized on salted. For me, it is just more convenient to use. In spite of this, I almost always have to season my food, the notable exception being fresh vegetables sauteed in butter. If you watch cooking shows, you would think I was committing some kind of sin. Does anyone else use salted butter as a first choice?

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  1. wolfe RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 07:32 AM

    All the time. I am so ashamed.

    1. s
      swsidejim RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 07:34 AM

      I used to, and would reduce the salt from the recipe if needed.

      However I switched to unsalted butter for cooking and the table. God knows us overweight Americans get too much salt in our diets. ;-D

      1. jsummers RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 07:37 AM

        If I'm using butter, its salted. If it ain't salted butter it soon will be! It's just my opinion but I think people are WAY more afraid of salt than they need to be. Granted, too much sodium in the one's diet may lead to problems, but won't beer help keep that flushed out? Anyway, I suppose thats a good reason to keep tabs on the ol' BP.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jsummers
          RGC1982 RE: jsummers Sep 25, 2008 08:04 AM

          All butter that is used on corn, bread, etc. is salted in my house, and I find it a nuisance to keep both on hand, so I just gave it. I guess I must just be adjusting when I am cooking and adding less salt.

        2. Morganna RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:10 AM

          Unsalted butter goes bad far too quickly, even if you store it in the fridge (forget about keeping it on the counter!). I have a box of it in my freezer for recipes where it really really matters, and I find, at least to my taste, those recipes are very few. I'll adjust the amount of salt down a little bit if I think it matters, but really, most of the time, I don't think it matters all that much. Alton would be so disappointed in me. ;)

          1. Candy RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:17 AM

            Butter was traditionally salted to disguise lack of freshness and it does act as a preservative. I have both on hand at all times. Butter freezes well so if you are just keeping unsalted butter on hand for cooking keep it in your freezer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy
              Caroline1 RE: Candy Sep 26, 2008 06:04 AM

              `Actually, there was a time in America (in my lifetime, no less) when butter went to the stores unsalted from local dairies, then after so many days (don't remember how many) the distributor (aka "dairy") collected what was unsold and added salt to it and back on the shelf it went.

              I don't have ANY trouble storing unsalted butter in the refrigerator. Should any of it be so lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be) to last long enough to gain that outer layer of semi-transparent fat (oxygenated), I just cut that off. You can always add more salt to a dish or sprinkle a buttered English muffin with a light dusting of sea salt, but it's not easy taking salt out!

            2. q
              queencru RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:45 AM

              I can't say I have ever willingly bought unsalted butter. I don't like to use unsalted butter at the table, and since I live alone it would take me ages to use unsalted just in my cooking. I don't typically add much salt to my cooking otherwise, so I don't see it as much of a problem.

              1. alanbarnes RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:46 AM

                I always use salted butter and just adjust salt levels in the finished dishes to compensate for the salt in the butter. Different butters have different amounts of salt, though, so you have to keep an eye on that, especially when you're baking and don't have an opportunity to taste and correct seasonings as you go.

                Some folks claim that because salt is a preservative, you might be getting butter that isn't as fresh if you buy it salted. My take is that unsalted butter isn't going to stay fresh nearly as long, so all things being equal salted butter will have superior flavor. And since we always have a stick out on the counter, the salt provides a little insurance against rancidity.

                1. FoodChic RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:49 AM

                  I use nothing but unsalted butter. I want to control how much, and what kind of salt, is in my foods. I have nothing against salt, I need tons of it, but I want to determine where and how it enters my food.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: FoodChic
                    s0m3f00l RE: FoodChic Sep 25, 2008 09:01 AM

                    I have to agree.. when cooking a meal it's hard to regulate just how much salt is getting dumped in when you use salted... Forget about baking with it... your cake could end up tasting like warm seawater, SICK.... I like unsalted , If I need to add salt I do so on my terms, IN MY OWN WAY!! You hear that you giant manufactures!?!

                    ::edited for piss poor spelling

                    1. re: s0m3f00l
                      Hungry Celeste RE: s0m3f00l Sep 25, 2008 12:11 PM

                      I bake all the time with salted butter--it makes sweet dishes even better. All salted butters are labeled with the amount of sodium on the ingredients panel. If you regularly buy the same brand, it's easy enough to know exactly how much salt is in your food. Salted butter works especially well in shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies.

                      Like other posters, I buy salted because it keeps longer.

                    2. re: FoodChic
                      mmuch RE: FoodChic Sep 25, 2008 03:58 PM

                      I'm with you FoodChic. Unsalted butter only when cooking to control the salt/flavors of the dish. I do buy salted for those wonderful simple occasions to enjoy butter on toast and that sort of thing. My favorite LURPAK.

                      1. re: mmuch
                        alkapal RE: mmuch Sep 29, 2008 05:29 AM

                        lurpak on a hot english muffin. nothing better in the world!

                    3. alwayscooking RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 09:01 AM

                      Definately unsalted. I want to control when and how much seasoning is added to my meals. For baking it's essential since using the right amount of salt is critical to the final product. Also, unsalted tastes better and creamier to me - but I also only use locally made double cream butter - yum.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: alwayscooking
                        Sooeygun RE: alwayscooking Sep 25, 2008 09:15 AM

                        I generally only buy salted butter. I use it for baking a lot. Other than in yeast products, where is is used to control the growth rate of the yeast, the exact amount of salt isn't that critical. I never measure the salt in recipes anyway, I just eyeball it. And adjust it up or down based on flavour. But then, I play with the amounts in most of my baking recipes based on humidity, etc.

                      2. JungMann RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 09:08 AM

                        The American palate is too used to oversalted food, in my opinion. We could stand to remove some salt where we can, espeially in our homemade foods. I keep nothing but unsalted butter, particularly because I use butter mainly for baking, but also so I can control my sodium intake. It was not always that way and it did take some getting used to. But having aclimated to a lowered sodium diet, I don't miss the salt because I can appreciate the other flavors in my food.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JungMann
                          Hungry Celeste RE: JungMann Sep 25, 2008 12:13 PM

                          Why remove salt from your diet if you're not sodium sensitive? Less than 10% of the population reacts to sodium with increased blood pressure. To each his own--salt as you like it, not because some nutritionists decided that "less salt is good for you" without any good science to support it.

                          As for Americans eating too much salt, the fish sauces & soy sauces of Asia are super-salty, as are the salted & cured meats of much of Europe.

                          1. re: Hungry Celeste
                            JungMann RE: Hungry Celeste Sep 25, 2008 12:49 PM

                            I didn't totally remove salt from my diet, but made a conscientious effort to reduce it because of my blood pressure. And even if I didn't have that problem, I don't need to eat as much salt as I possibly can. Everything in moderation.

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste
                              jsummers RE: Hungry Celeste Sep 26, 2008 08:36 AM

                              We eat too much everything

                          2. j
                            janniecooks RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 11:59 AM

                            I prefer the sweet taste of unsalted butter and use it exclusively, unless a recipe specificies salted butter. My spouse prefers his butter salted so we always have both, always kept refrigerated. It's not a sodium avoidance thing, I just really prefer unsalted butter. When hubby uses my unsalted butter on toast or the like, he always sprinkles salt on it!

                            1. b
                              bnemes3343 RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 12:55 PM

                              Never when baking or making desserts (e.g. mousse). Otherwise, yes, of course. There's nothing wrong with frying an egg in salted butter.

                              1. l
                                LJS RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 01:18 PM

                                What a relief to find out I am not alone-I only EVER use salted butter and I thought I was going to have to start a support group for one salty sinner!

                                I don't like the taste or even the smell of unsalted butter (yes, I know, you can't smell it, but really, really I CAN tell the difference). I adjust if I am baking, but lets face it, very few recipes are THAT sensitive. And I have lived to a good age now without high blood pressure or other problems. So has my husband.

                                1. k
                                  kshrimp RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 02:48 PM

                                  Judging by the responses, this has been as good as group therapy!

                                  Count me in as one who typically just uses salted butter. One exception I can think of was RLB's croissants - when I make them again I'll be sure to get unsalted, and probably at least spring for brand name if not super-premium, butter. I made them with salted, store-brand butter the first time and won't do it again. Really, not terrible - my husband thought I was nuts to go on about it - but for the time involved, it'll be worth it. Otherwise, I count salt in butter towards its necessary use in baking.

                                  And from the "pinches" of salt that are used on cooking shows vs. what I probably use, I think I'm more than making up for the extra sodium in my butter.

                                  1. MMRuth RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 02:56 PM

                                    I only use unsalted, because, over the years, it seems that's what recipes call for. I don't eat butter 'straight' on anything, though I sometimes buy 'artisanal' butters for my husband - haven't noticed if they are salted or not.

                                    1. l
                                      laliz RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 03:22 PM

                                      salted butter only here too.

                                      unsalted just tastes like grease or crisco or something.

                                      1. BamiaWruz RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 03:31 PM

                                        Yes, it's cheaper and I can adjust the salt because I know I put salted butter in, no problem.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: BamiaWruz
                                          brendastarlet RE: BamiaWruz Sep 25, 2008 03:37 PM

                                          Here's what I was taught in a baking class. Salt is an ingredient added to cause a chemical reaction. Baking is a more precise art than just cooking. So bakers prefer unsalted butter because they want to add an exact amount of salt. If the butter is salted, they have no idea how much it might contain, and that could screw up the process.

                                          I have both on hand, and once in a while I forget and use the salted butter. Nothing is ever ruined.

                                          1. re: brendastarlet
                                            alanbarnes RE: brendastarlet Sep 25, 2008 05:42 PM

                                            "If the butter is salted, they have no idea how much it might contain"

                                            Only if they don't read the nutritional information panel on the side of the butter package...

                                            1. re: brendastarlet
                                              Sooeygun RE: brendastarlet Sep 26, 2008 05:35 AM

                                              Salt's primary function in baking is flavour. Other functions, controlling growth of yeast, strengthen gluten, improve crust colour on bread. (I have my cooking school notes out today). So unless you are making bread, the amount of salt doesn't need to be so precise. None of us in the pastry kitchen where I worked measured salt in the recipes...just eyeballed it, and the recipes didn't suffer.

                                          2. alwayscooking RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 03:35 PM

                                            Based on some of the comments about bland or greasy tasting unsalted butter, I wonder if they've tried real creamery butter (unsalted). The amount of flavor is amazing and vastly different than the normal grocery store offering. I would strongly urge those who haven't tasted it to try a french, swiss, italian or local fresh made butter. I served it to my SIL who asked what kind of cheese it was - it was so sweet!

                                            I'll never go back to salted!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: alwayscooking
                                              wolfe RE: alwayscooking Sep 25, 2008 03:50 PM

                                              Sodium in one tablespoon of salted butter 90 mg approximately 4% of recommended daily intake. Sodium in one teaspoon table salt about 2000 mg.

                                            2. Lindseyup67 RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 04:34 PM

                                              It is my understand that most cooking/baking recipes are refering to salted butter when it calls for butter............I think it is only a personal preference, but I am ALL about salt!!!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Lindseyup67
                                                MMRuth RE: Lindseyup67 Sep 25, 2008 04:38 PM

                                                I'd say that 95% of the recipes I use specifically call for unsalted butter. That said, when I've had to use salted butter instead, I've not noticed a difference.

                                              2. j
                                                jencounter RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 04:54 PM

                                                My dirty secret is out, dangit.

                                                1. o
                                                  oryza RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 04:54 PM

                                                  I buy what's on sale; sometimes it's salted, sometimes it's not. I haven't had any bad experience from using salted butter even in baking (though I then will cut out additional salt by half)

                                                  1. 2
                                                    2chez mike RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 04:57 PM

                                                    I switched to unsalted a few years ago. Not for health reasons, just for the taste and I prefer having control over how salty I want something. I always use unsalted canned tomatoes and tomato sauce when cooking, as well.

                                                    1. g
                                                      gfr1111 RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 05:47 PM

                                                      Unsalted picks up 'refrigerator" flavors very quickly. If a recipe specifically calls for unsalted, I'll make an effort to go to the store, buy it, and use it within a day or two for the recipe. Otherwise, I use salted. It's just easier and it tastes the same to me, except that I do sometimes notice that unsalted tastes slightly better on muffins or bread, if it is very fresh. So, the bottomm line: salted, when cooking, except on rare occasions.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: gfr1111
                                                        2chez mike RE: gfr1111 Sep 26, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                        It usually takes me at least a couple of weeks to go through half a pound. So I keep it wrapped in foil or plastic inside a zip lock bag, and then put that in an airtight plastic container. It keeps its fresh taste fine that way.

                                                      2. Will Owen RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 05:52 PM

                                                        Had my first taste of unsalted butter at breakfast in Italy, and just about fell off my chair. SO good. Have barely looked back since. However, as has been noted, you either have to freeze it or use it quickly, and we're very slow at getting through a pound of butter nowadays, so Yeah, I do keep a stick or two of salted for things like very special scrambled eggs, or for making biscuits (equal parts with lard), or just a batch of buttered crumbs. I put some on the occasional piece of really good bread once in a great while, and wish it were unsalted...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Will Owen
                                                          alkapal RE: Will Owen Sep 29, 2008 05:33 AM

                                                          the butter in italy on those heavenly breakfast "rosetta" rolls is an awesome taste experience. too too addictive. (something about hot, yeasty bread with fresh unsalted butter....)

                                                          go there in your own kitchen! here's a recipe: http://viewitaly.blogspot.com/2006/10...

                                                        2. p
                                                          Potomac Bob RE: RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 06:37 PM

                                                          I use whipped salted butter to serve with hot corn on the cob. Elsewhere I use unsalted; tastes fresher to me.

                                                          1. jsummers RE: RGC1982 Sep 26, 2008 07:15 AM

                                                            How much salt (not sodium, but salt) is in a tablespoon of salted butter? I'm coming up with around 237mg using land-o-lakes nutritional information. Aint that about 1/20th of a teaspoon? Although that may impact the flavor of butter spread on bread or whatever, I'm sure in most cases that would be an acceptable tolerance when cooking. Of course my math may be flawed...

                                                            1. danna RE: RGC1982 Sep 26, 2008 07:16 AM

                                                              Thanks for posting this! I say screw 'em and their edict about unsalted butter. I ALWAYS used salted butter. Baking, cooking, whatever. Why keep two different butters around? I certainly don't want to put unsalted butter on my bread, corn, etc. and it makes no damn difference in baking. Most baked goods add salt anyway.

                                                              The ONLY time I have ever realized that the salted butter made a difference was in a recipe that had a very large percentage of butter to other ingredients. It was a martha stewart cheese shortbread cookie...they turned out a bit salty and I should have adjusted the recipe. Normally however, I don't eat things that have so much butter in them that it would make a difference!

                                                              AND... salted butter lovers, try the Vermont Butter and Cheese co. buter w/ Sea salt (fleur de sel, I can't rememer?) that comes in a tiny basket. Delicious butter w/ crunchy salt bits.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: danna
                                                                Morganna RE: danna Sep 26, 2008 09:57 AM

                                                                Mmmmmm Vermont Butter and Cheese... Try ALL their butters. :)

                                                                1. re: danna
                                                                  foiegras RE: danna Jan 13, 2010 07:02 PM

                                                                  Ooh, fleur de sel butter sounds fantastic!!!

                                                                2. f
                                                                  FrankJBN RE: RGC1982 Sep 26, 2008 11:24 AM

                                                                  For those who like to control the salt in their cooking, when you eliminate that 15 thousandths of a tablespoon of salt contained in your tablespoon of butter, how do you measure to put it in if you want?

                                                                  (Salted Butter containing on average 1.5-1.8 % salt.)

                                                                  1. Caitlin McGrath RE: RGC1982 Sep 26, 2008 12:20 PM

                                                                    I only buy unsalted butter. I vastly prefer its flavor, whether on bread or for cooking. I keep it in the freezer, and only thaw what I need.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                      joyjoy RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 28, 2008 10:54 PM

                                                                      I grew up in Ireland where salted butter is the norm, I only use unsalted in baking such as buttercream frosting etc. I really love Kerrygold Irish butter and highly recommend it. I have converted all my friends over here it is available in most supermarkets. Trader Joe's is the cheapest.

                                                                    2. g
                                                                      goldendawn7 RE: RGC1982 Sep 29, 2008 08:42 PM

                                                                      I don't, because I'm pretty sure the salt they put in salted butter is the iodized stuff that has a slightly metallic taste (I prefer to use sea salt). My general rule is if your cooking with it, stick to unsalted. If you're using it mostly for spreading on your English muffin, go for the salted.
                                                                      Just whatever you do, for the love of god, never use salted butter for a hollandaise, beurre blanc, etc. The end result will be too salty to eat.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: goldendawn7
                                                                        Sooeygun RE: goldendawn7 Sep 30, 2008 05:47 AM

                                                                        I disagree about the hollandaise. I have used salted butter both at work and home for hollandaise. A lot of the salt separates out when you clarify it. Never had a problem with the hollandaise being too salty.

                                                                      2. k
                                                                        Kelli2006 RE: RGC1982 Sep 29, 2008 08:55 PM

                                                                        I prefer to use unsalted, but if the kitchen only has salted butter on hand I can adapt any recipe to work. I freeze all my butter at home, and only thaw enough to accomplish the job at hand.

                                                                        1. l
                                                                          LadyCook61 RE: RGC1982 Jan 13, 2010 04:56 PM

                                                                          I use both salted and unsalted. I buy them on sale then I vacuum pack it with food saver and freeze the extra butter.

                                                                          1. f
                                                                            foiegras RE: RGC1982 Jan 13, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                                            Oh yes ... I used to stock both types, and it meant my butter was only half as fresh on average as it is now. Now I buy unsalted when I'm planning a big baking extravaganza. I prefer salted for the table--it just has more flavor, and that & freshness became my priorities.

                                                                            1. r
                                                                              rainey RE: RGC1982 Jan 13, 2010 07:12 PM

                                                                              Almost ALWAYS. Sweet butter tastes far too flat to me.

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