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Taste test: salted butters

Stick of unwrapped butter on blue cloth


Stick of unwrapped butter on blue cloth

For years, I never bought salted butter, fearing it would change the taste of homemade foods. I preferred to add my own salt in recipes in order to keep better tabs on the sodium levels of the foods I serve to my family. One visit to Paris and I tossed that convention out the window. After slathering salted butter on a hot baguette, I was forever hooked. In fact, I began searching for really good butter back at home. That mission proved overwhelming, so we asked our taste panel for some help. Overall, they compared 16 brands. This week we will share their comments about the first eight, followed by a second column next week. I used the leftover salted butters in several recipes after the tasting and didn't notice a difference in taste in my sauteed or baked foods.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Cabot 76Vital Farms Alfresco

Sea Salted Butter 73
Amish Butter 68

This butter scored points for being light and for having the perfect ratio of creamy to salty flavor. "Light as a feather but the taste has all the weight of a fine Euro-butter," said one judge. "Where is my scone?" Another described the taste as delicate, saying she liked the "hint" rather than a "hit" of salt she detected in this brand. One judge said this butter was "yummy and necessary" because of the balance of sweetness and "the easy taste of the butter."Vibrant color put this butter toward the top of the list. "It's bright and full of promise," said one judge. "I would love to see this color on a Lilly Pulitzer print." One panelist tasted a cheesy flavor in the sample. "It's rich and salty and I would put a big slab of this on my campfire grits." Another judge had the same reaction, saying: "Is this butter or Cabot extra sharp cheese?" The color of this butter also impressed judges. "This is delicious," said one. "It almost looks like a wonderfully sharp cheddar cheese." Another said it would look and taste bold on a hot baked potato. The deep, yellowish-orange hue of this butter along with its smooth texture and mildly salty taste made it a winner. "On a warm muffin, I think I would be in heaven," said one panelist.


they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.24 for a 16-ounce box from Walmart.$3.99 for an 8-ounce box from the Fresh Market.$4.99 for a 16-ounce box from the Fresh Market.

Also Sampled:Winn-Dixie ($3.89 for a 16-ounce box, 44 points); Trader Jacques ($2.99 for an 8.8-ounce box from Trader Joe's, 54 points); Publix ($3.87 for an 8-ounce box, 50 points); Challenge Butter ($4.99 for a 16-ounce box from Winn-Dixie, 54 points); and Plugra ($2.49 for an 8-ounce package from Walmart, 59 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director at Studio@620; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne tablespoon One tablespoon One tablespoon
Fat/Fiber11g / 0g11g / 0g11g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 90mg0g / 90mg0g / 90mg
Carbs/Protein0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g

Taste test: salted butters 06/19/17 [Last modified: Friday, June 16, 2017 12:17pm]
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