Why do Some Recipes Call for Unsalted Butter?

Posted on December 15, 2016 by Sweet Day Gourmet

Salted or Unsalted Butter?

Gourmet Baking-Salted or Unsalted Butter?

Some recipes seem to be an odd puzzle at best.  For those who have encountered a recipe that calls for unsalted butter, they may scratch their heads and wonder why the recipe then proceeds to list salt as an ingredient.  Isn't salted butter the same as unsalted butter, plus added salt?

As it turns out, there are good reasons as to why a recipe may call for unsalted butter and then require salt added as an ingredient.  Different butter manufacturers add different amounts of salt to their butter.  For those who are true advocates of gourmet baking, this is important because they know that this affects the outcome of the flavor of whatever baked good they are creating. 

In addition, manufacturers add salt to their butter as a preservative.  This means unsalted butter is meant for use sooner rather than later, and therefore is typically fresher than salted butter.  Salt also has a tendency to mask odors and unwanted tastes.  If a manufacturer adds salt to their butter, it becomes more difficult to determine if the butter is fresh or better avoided because it is going stale.

So how long does unsalted butter stay fresh?  Generally, most manufacturers recommend unsalted butter be used within a month of purchase if kept in the refrigerator.  Bakers can also check the butter quality by cutting off a small slice and noting the color of the butter on the inside versus the outside of the stick.  If the inside is of a lighter hue than the outside, then it probably will not deliver the best taste if used in a recipe. 

For more information on how to create a baked good masterpiece that is as fresh as possible, please contact us.