Different brands of butter add different amounts of salt to their butter. Olivier brand name butter, for example, contains 90 milligrams of sodium per 14-gram serving (one tablespoon). Meanwhile, country jar contains 100 mg of sodium per 14 gram serving. Those 10 grams can make a big difference in your delicate pastries, cookies, cakes and more.
Household butter name Land O’Lakes recommends using unsalted butter for cooking so you have complete control over the overall flavor of your recipe. This becomes especially important, he says, in baked goods like pound cake or butter cookies, where the sweet creamy flavor of butter is the signature taste of the final bake. Unsalted butter provides an even, predictable base level on which to build your flavors; it’s consistent every time. This way you don’t have to worry that your baked goods are too salty or that the balance between salty and sweet is off.
Unsalted butter also tends to be fresher than salted butter. Salt is a preservative, says pastry teacher Joy the baker, so salted butter has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter. Plus, she says, salt can mask flavors and odors; adding salt makes it more difficult to identify when the butter has passed its expiration date. According to Spoon University, most refrigerated butters last six to nine months, or at least a month beyond the printed best before date. If you’re having trouble remembering the last time you bought that last stick from the fridge, take a good sniff of it.