Salted or Unsalted Butter

Growing up I recall we only had one choice for butter and that was salted. All my old cookbooks only state 'butter' to be used in recipes. Can I substitute unsalted and add more salt to the recipe?

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C Sangueza
C Sangueza May 3, 2016

Yes you can. The amount of additional salt to add would be miniscule.

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Caroline Lange
Caroline Lange May 3, 2016

That's often what I do! I'd say that most recipes now assume unsalted (and list a quantity of salt in the ingredient list). If it does list salt, you probably don't need to add more; if it doesn't, add to taste. (I just add a fat pinch.)

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pierino
pierino May 3, 2016

And using unsalted butter gives you more control over the total salt content as well as flavor of whatever you are making.

Maedl
Maedl May 3, 2016

I always use sweet butter, no matter what the recipe specifies. Look for a sweet, cultured butter, which has an excellent flavor. Don't add more salt--it shouldn't make any difference in the recipe.

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Smaug
Smaug May 3, 2016

I wouldn't worry about it, the recipe was most likely over salted to begin with. It used to have a bit less moisture than salted, but I don't think that's true anymore. Up until 15-20 years ago it was mostly a specialty item, and was generally kept frozen. I don't know if they changed it or just found that refrigeration was adequate, but it's quite common now; it's pretty much the default baking butter now.

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scruz
scruz May 3, 2016

salt is usually used as a preservative in butter so i only buy unsalted. i store the excess in the freezer until ready to use. i don't use a lot of salt in my cooking and like to control the amount, especially if i use something like pickles or olives or some such ingredient in cooking which would make the salt in butter redundant. i find that when we buy it by mistake, even a buttered piece of bread is strangely too salty. and really, i'm not anti salt.

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Uncle Jess
Uncle Jess May 3, 2016

Absolutely. I would go with the unsalted and not add more salt right away if salt can be added later. I always test for salt before plating. Only time I use salted butter is to accompany bread.

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amysarah
amysarah May 3, 2016

For me, unsalted butter has been the norm for decades - even as a kid, baseline butter was unsalted. Nowadays, I sometimes get really good salted butter for bread, but beyond that I generally assume unsalted for cooking, as Caroline said.

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