When To Use Salted Or Unsalted Butter
Does it make a difference?
You already know the difference between salted and unsalted butter: salt! You would be wrong to think, however, that the only difference salt would make is that one is more salty than the other. There are other reasons that make salted butter and unsalted butter distinctly different that make each kind of butter better for certain uses.
The main difference between the two types of butter, of course, is the lack of salt. This means two things:
1 Using Unsalted Butter Means You Control The Salt
The amount of salt used in salted butter differs from brand to brand so you would not be sure just how much salt is going into your recipe. If you start with unsalted butter though, this will give you a much clearer picture of just how much salt it is going in. This is vital in having full control of your recipe's flavor when you're baking or if you're health conscious.
This is especially important when it comes to baking, especially if you're trying a recipe for the first time. You won't be able to taste your batter until it's done baking, and by then, it'll be too late to adjust anything, especially if it's too salty or too bland. Hence, unless specified, always use unsalted butter for baking.
2 Salted Butter Lasts Longer
Salt isn't just a flavor enhancer; it's also a preservative. Hence, your unsalted butter will go bad twice as fast as salted butter. It's good to keep this in mind when stocking up on butter. This also means that grocery stores will generally keep salted butter on their shelves for longer as well compared to unsalted butter.
If you're still unsure about butter and its uses, here are the answers to the questions you might ask yourself when you find yourself with a butter question:
What do you do if you run out of unsalted butter?
If you bought too much unsalted butter and find out too late that your butter has gone bad, don't worry! You can still use salted butter, but with a little adjustment. Simply half the salt indicated in your recipe.
What do I use when it doesn't say which butter to use?
As with all recipes, adding salt later is easier to do while taking out added salt is impossible. That's what makes unsalted butter such a great ingredient. Unsalted butter is the safest bet when the type of butter is unspecified.
What's the best butter to use for popcorn?
Use unsalted butter for your popcorn! Once salted butter is melted, it loses some of its water content, making its saltiness more concentrated. It's better if you season your popcorn bit by bit until you hit the right amount of saltiness instead.
What butter is best to use on a daily basis?
When you're cooking though, using salted butter instead is not much of an issue because you can easily adjust flavors later on. When thickening with a butter-based roux or finishing a soup with a cold cube of butter, the amount used is usually in small enough increments to not make a big difference in saltiness. Just make sure to taste as you cook, as a common practice.
What butter is best for toast?
Salted butter is also wonderful to use for your toast. If you want to use a finishing salt like fleur de sel, though, you might want to go for unsalted butter instead. You can also use salted butter for a compound butter, but make sure to take out the salt in the recipe. The advantage to this is that the salt is well incorporated into the butter, so you won't run the danger of salty or bland spots.
Have we answered all your butter questions? Let us know if you have other questions about butter that we didn't tackle.