Pure and natural Butter is a great way for you to make a bold statement with your cooking and baking. Honestly, if you’re using REAL Butter, chances are it’s going to be good. Even so, here are a few tips that will help you maximize the flavors and textures made possible with Butter.
Keep it Fresh. Store Butter in its original packaging or in a tightly covered container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not on the refrigerator door shelves. Also, keep Butter away from foods with strong odors or distinct flavors. Salted Butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months. Unsalted Butter will keep for two weeks.
Butter can also be frozen. For best results, it should be in its original container, then wrapped in aluminum foil or in an airtight plastic bag. Salted Butter can be frozen for six to nine months; unsalted Butter can be frozen for up to five months. Once Butter is thawed, it should be used within 30 days.
Accept No Substitutes. Do not use spreads, such as margarine, shortening or part-Butter products to replace Butter in a recipe. Spreads contain less fat and more water than Butter and will not perform the same. Plus, many spreads contain added chemicals and artificial ingredients.
Choose the Right Butter for the Job. All Butter is not created equal. Here is a quick guide to some of the types you might encounter, and some advice on how to best use them.
Salted butter (also known as Sweet Cream Butter) – Some Butter has added salt because it allows for a slightly longer shelf life. Butter made with sea salt or fleur de sel, a French version of sea salt, is ideal for using as a condiment or spread, but not recommended for baking.
Unsalted Butter – This is your best bet for baking. Butter that has added salt can affect the rising action of baked goods in recipes that use yeast.
Clarified Butter – This is Butter that has been melted and made clear by separating and discarding milk solids and water. It is ideal for cooking, frying and sautéing because it will not burn at high temperatures.
Cultured Butter – Made from cultured cream, this Butter has a rich, complex flavor. It is ideal for baking because the lower moisture content produces flakier pastries and fluffier cakes.
European-style Butter – This old-fashioned variation is made from cream that is churned more slowly and for a longer time. It has a butterfat content of at least 82 percent—higher than standard Butter. The increased amount of butterfat is beneficial for cooking and baking.
Spreadable Butter – Made with a touch of canola oil, this Butter is easy to spread on baked goods, waffles, potatoes and more. There is no need to soften spreadable Butter; it can be used directly from the refrigerator. However, spreadable Butter should not be used for baking or cooking—the canola oil can alter the final result of baked goods.
Whipped Butter – Made with nitrogen gas that’s whipped into Butter after it has been churned, this convenient Butter remains soft at low temperatures. Its low density relative to regular Butter makes it a poor choice for cooking, but a great option for spreading on bread.
Use Softened Butter for Cookies. Softened Butter incorporates better with the other ingredients. With its low melting point, Butter is what makes cookies soft and chewy on the inside, but crisp and golden on the outside.
Use Hard, Cold Butter for Pie Crusts. The flaky texture in a pie crust is achieved when cold pieces of Butter get trapped between layers of dough, then melt during baking to create small air pockets.
Avoid Sticky Situations. Keep cookies, bars and cakes from sticking to baking sheets or pans by buttering the baking surfaces.
Add a Pat or Two of Cold Butter to Sauces. Butter makes sauces smooth and creamy and creates a cohesive consistency by helping mix both fat and water-based ingredients. For best results, use cold, hard Butter.
Use Butter as a Flavor Enhancer. Adding Butter along with savory or sweet spices helps retain the flavor of the spices and works to integrate the flavor throughout the entire dish.