Picture this (we’ve all been there) you’re in our store picking up the essentials. You head to the dairy section to mark butter off of your list, you stop and stare at the selection – margarine, unsalted, salted, Kerrygold, ghee…on and on (and on!) the options go. Did you even notice if you chose salted vs. unsalted butter? Now is the time to understand the difference!
Back in the day, salted butter was actually VERY salty. We’re talking ten times as salty. Why? Salt is the world’s oldest preservative. Before the days of refrigeration, salt was the only way to keep butter in the winter months when farmers couldn’t get fresh dairy from their livestock. As such, unsalted, fresh butter was considered a delicacy. Additionally, salt covers up a plethora of impurities and off-flavors in butter, so companies that produced butter without the use of salt could boast of the purity and sweetness of their product.
So, when do you use salted butter and when do you grab the unsalted variety?
- Unsalted butter gives you complete control of the overall flavor of your recipe. This is especially important in certain baked goods where the pure, sweet cream flavor of butter is key (like when making pound cake). In cooking, unsalted butter lets the real, natural flavor of your foods come through. Have you ever noticed that some recipes call for using unsalted butter and then to add salt? Without the added salt in the unsalted butter, the pure sweet cream taste comes through and you can add the exact amount of salt you want in the recipe.
- Salted butter is all-purpose. It’s the ideal choice for spreading on bread, melting on veggies, and swirling into pasta. Use salted butter in recipes where you’re not looking to have so much control over the amount of salt in a recipe. For many of us, our taste buds won’t notice the difference. and choosing unsalted is only truly important when cooking on a mass scale, like at a restaurant.
Looking for a recipe to showcase the sweet, creamy flavor of butter? Try out this mouth watering Butter Cookie recipe from The Preppy Kitchen for your next treat! We’re adding these crowd pleasing bites to our Halloween festivities, holiday menus, and more.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (yes, we mean unsalted)
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sanding sugar
- Cream the butter, salt, and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks while mixing. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add 2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Pour in the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Roll the dough into a log. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Once the dough is chilled, sprinkle sanding sugar on a clean surface. Unwrap the dough and roll in the sugar.
- Use a sharp knife to cut dough into slices of even thickness.
- Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are JUST turning golden brown.