(The following is a recent online conversation I had about butter, salt, and margarine with some of my friends on a certain social-networking site. Names have not been changed to protect any innocents. All are guilty!)
My Post: Quick butter question: When using butter in a recipe, do you use salted or unsalted if it doesn’t specify? I used to always use margarine, so I’m not sure which type of butter to use in a cookie recipe.
Molly: I use salted if it does not specify Pamela: I think if it doesn’t specify.. then it’s salted Wendy: If you used to always use margarine, then salted would be the one to go with since the marg is salted. Me: Okay. I used the salted, but the cookies tasted a touch saltier than I remember. Also, I was experimenting with other stuff, so it might have altered things. Ben: Whichever is on sale? Moose: I always use unsalted in cooking & baking Melanie: I’m with Ben on this one. Me: Hmmm. Interesting. Oats or cinnamon added to a chocolate chip cookie recipe wouldn’t amplify the taste of salt, would it? Ben: All I know is cinnamon does not belong in stroganoff sauce. Me: Not in the Bolshevik recipe anyway. Moose: Nah, those would diminish saltiness, if anything – sounds tasty!! Ben: Not in any recipe, really. Never keep the cinnamon and allspice next to each other. Moose: Sounds like there’s a story behind the allspice… Me: Quite the fun mixup, Ben. Ben: My mom went to make stroganoff awhile back. She has her spices well organized. However, my dad had used the cinnamon earlier and put it back in the wrong spot. The bottles are a similar size and mom didn’t read the label. She didn’t realize her mistake until she noticed the cinnamon wasn’t mixing in like it should. Worst stroganoff ever. Had to dump it in the woods. Me: In the woods, huh? I suppose the woodland creatures aren’t as picky. Ben: I don’t recall seeing a crush of furry woodland creatures to eat it…. Moose: Hmmm wouldn’t have figured cinnamon in stroganoff – nutmeg maybe Joan: Just remember to keep your unsalted butter double wrapped in plastic and stored in the freezer. Unsalted butter doesn’t keep as long as salted. BTW, always use unsalted in your recipes; there’s always too much salt asked for. Me: Thanks, guys. I’ll keep this in mind. Party on. Sally forth. Ben: OR when you make anything with salt in it, (eg. cookies..) omit the salt when you make anything with Margarine. And don’t put Baking soda in it if it calls for it. Makes Cookies very salty… (unless its just a tiny bit and there are chemical reasons for it.).. e.g. when making Banana bread.. you do need a bit of Baking Soda. Laurel (a chef): We only use unsalted at the bakery. I always assume unsalted in a recipe. Can’t speak to how long it keeps; I’ve never had butter hang around that long. Kristine: I always use unsalted butter. Me: I just bought some unsalted stuff to try the next time out. Thanks, goats.
So that settled it for me. I’ll go with mom. Light on the salt it is. She and I used to make lots of cookies together and I remember now that we used to make those cookies with the reduced salt, too, but it had been too long since I’d made them. And I think this was my first time making them with butter.
Anyway, I’d already made the huge batch of chocolate chip cookies and took them to work for my coworkers to consume. I wasn’t trying to unload them, because the cookies were still delicious, I just wanted to make something for them. Although the cookies were saltier than I preferred, my coworkers seemed to really like them. That was a relief. db