If you’ve looked at the butter options available at your grocery store, you may have noticed packaging for unsalted butter next to one marked salted butter. Most days, it’s not something you think about. You just head to that section and pick up your usual butter and move on to more exciting products but what is salted butter?
What is Salted Butter Made Of?
Many recipes call for unsalted butter. This is a way of controlling the amount of salt used in the recipe overall. The majority of butter in your grocer’s refrigerated section, however, contains salt. So, what is salted butter exactly?
Salted butter, simply put, is a butter with salt added to it during the manufacturing process. Once the cream is separated from the milk, the salt is added to the cream. This additive is usually in the form of dairy salt or salt slurry.
Dairy salt is a pure, finely ground salt, free of starch or iodine. As its granules are small, dairy salt will dissolve much faster and more completely than coarser types of salt.
Salt slurry is a combination of salt and water, with somewhere around 55% salt and 45% water.
Salt as a Preservative
Historically, salt was added to butter as a natural preservative. This was long before we had electricity and refrigeration. The salt was needed to preserve the butter for use, extending its shelf life.
Today, salted butter can stay in your refrigerator for up to five months, while unsalted butter can only last for approximately three months.
How much Salt is in it?
Health concerns these days prompt warnings to limit the amount of salt in your diet. Rarely is butter thought of as a culprit, however.
In nutritional comparison, one tablespoon of salted butter contains approximately 90mg of sodium, while unsalted butter contains zero. This is good to remember when trying to eliminate salt from your own diet.
Salted Butter in Recipes
During the creation of a recipe, cooks often have to test and retest their list of ingredients to get the flavor just right. This often includes adjusting the amount of salt. By using unsalted butter, they can more easily test those different amounts.
If a recipe lists butter as an ingredient, and you are using it, you can calculate the approximate salt amount based on the nutritional comparison above.
If salt is also listed as an ingredient, you can add the two totals together to determine the amount of salt in the overall recipe. From there, you may want to adjust one or the other.
Does Salted Butter Taste Better?
Tasting salted butter side by side with unsalted butter may be the best way to determine if there is a real difference in taste. A number of cooks claim that unsalted butter produces a nice sweetness. In contrast, others promote the flavor enhancement provided by the salt.
Whether you use it or not will depend on what it is your cooking or eating, what a recipe calls for in the way of salt, or what your dietary requirements are when it comes to salt consumption. Regardless, salted butter is not going away anytime soon. We love it too much.