Butter: Salted vs. Unsalted
If you peeked inside my refrigerator on any given day, it would look like an episode of Hoarders: Butter Edition. Just little butter-lined paths through my fridge. It’s true. I have a ridiculous amount of butter on hand at all times. I start to get nervous if my stock drops below four pounds. Which is why I get especially excited for the grocery store sales in November and December. Bring on the sugar and spice and everything nice! Oh, butter. Butter is nice.
So, what is the difference between salted and unsalted butter? The short answer, of course, would be salt. I used to buy salted butter exclusively because it was simple. It worked for everything from spreading on bread to baking in cookies. I mentioned this to my foodie siblings the other day, and they all looked at me like I had three heads. “Unsalted butter is the only way to go.”
In an effort to keep the family peace, I have been making the switch to unsalted. And actually the more I read, the more I was convinced that unsalted is, in fact, the way to go. So, now I use salted butter as a spread and unsalted for everything else.
Now for the longer answer.
Salt is a preservative, which means that salted butter has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter. This is a good thing, right? However, unsalted butter is generally considered to be a fresher product. Either way, butter keeps beautifully in the freezer, so stock up with confidence. $1.50-1.67/pound is my stock-up price.
When it comes to salted butter, I have read different opinions on the amount of salt per stick, anywhere from 1/3 to 3/4 teaspoon (differs slightly by brand). The main benefit of using unsalted butter is the ability to control the amount of salt in any recipe. If a recipe does not specify, assume unsalted butter to get the seasoning level correct.
Here’s a good rule: Use salted butter as you would a condiment like ketchup or mayo. Use unsalted butter for everything else.
Salted, unsalted. It will be a debate for the ages. As long as I have a good stock of both in my refrigerator, I am a happy camper.
I have always loved this Norpro Stoneware Butter Keeper (Amazon). It holds up to one cube of butter in the top and water in the bottom. The water seals out the air to keep the butter soft and spreadable.