Take a close look at the wrapper around any stick of butter, and you'll get some helpful information about what's inside. Yes, it indicates whether the stick is salted or unsalted, and there are measurement markings, but there's more. You might also see your butter labeled as "sweet cream butter," but what exactly does that mean?
It's All in the Name
The term "sweet cream" simply refers to the butter's main ingredient. It's made from pasteurized fresh cream, as opposed to cultured or soured cream. And the word "sweet" is used mostly to distinguish it from those cultured or soured cream alternatives.
Cultured or soured cream butters have a tangy, slightly sour taste, and are made with added cultures or the butter can be fermented in order to achieve its distinct taste. European-style butter is typically produced this way, while American-style butter is typically sold as sweet cream butter.
The term sweet cream butter certainly has the potential for confusion. Is it sweeter than regular butter? Is it creamier?
Not at all. Despite what the name seems to indicate, sweet cream butter isn't actually sweetened, nor is it any creamier. It's no sweeter or creamier than any other stick of butter you're likely to find on the grocery store shelf.
The Salt Factor
Sweet cream butter comes both salted and unsalted, and is the most basic and commercially produced type of butter in North America. While sweet cream butter is sometimes used as a synonym for salted butter, it can also be unsalted. Take a look at the packaging; unless the butter is labeled as unsalted, sweet cream butters are lightly salted.