At its core, butter is a pretty simple ingredient — a creamy spread that can single-handedly make toast magical, and work wonders in both cooking and baking alike. Here are a few things to remember about using each stick, stubby, and block of butter to the best of its delicious ability.
1. Butter can be left out of the fridge, but not for too long.
While butter is best stored in the refrigerator for the long-term, it's okay to be left at room temperature for a few days — as long as it's covered.
Read More: Does Butter Really Need to Be Refrigerated?
2. Stick with unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in a recipe.
Since the amount of salt in butter varies from brand to brand, it's tough to calibrate the seasoning of a recipe when using salted butter. This is why so many recipes call for unsalted butter; it gives you much more control, so you can add as much (or as little) salt as you want.
Read More: Why Recipes Call for Unsalted Butter
3. Production methods and fat content distinguish European- and American-style butter.
European-style butter is churned longer to achieve a higher butterfat content, and is allowed to ferment or made with cultures to get a tangier taste. American-style butter typically has a lower butterfat content and a neutral flavor.
4. Sweet cream butter is named for its main ingredient.
Sweet cream butter isn't actually sweetened or extra creamy. It's made from pasteurized fresh cream, and the word "sweet" is used mostly to distinguish it from those cultured or sour cream alternatives.
Read More: What Is Sweet Cream Butter?
5. European butter makes for better pie crust and pastries.
There's no need to splurge on pricier European butter for cakes, cookies, and brownies, but it can make a big difference for pies, pastries, and croissants. European butter contains less water, which means it will remain solid for a longer period of time, ultimately resulting in more flaky layers of dough — not to mention more flavor.
Read More: Is European Butter Really Better for Baking?