This is one of those things that I always feel weird posting because it seems too simple. I originally started doing this when my boy first started eating solids, about three years ago. I wanted to reduce the amount of sodium in the butter I used, so I could use a wider range of other ingredients without feeling like I was blowing his daily limit too badly. Interestingly, a couple times over the last few years, I've briefly had to go back to regular butter and it's just not as good! I find myself getting anxious to get back to the "good stuff."
When I recently had multiple people in a short time period asking what butter I used because they thought it tasted so good, I decided maybe it was time to share my secret with the world. It's so simple, it's hard to imagine it making such a big difference! All I do is mix one stick of salted butter with one stick of unsalted butter. Then I put the mixture in a crock and leave it on the counter. So, so easy.
Why does it make such a big difference? I think the reason is two fold. First, I think salted butter is salty enough that it tends to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the butter. Second, look at the photo below. The top box is salted. See the ingredients? Cream and salt. That's it. Now look at the bottom box. See those ingredients? Cream and natural flavoring. Initially, I was, like, whoa!, what are they sticking in my butter!?! But after a little snooping around, it appears that to keep it from tasting too flat without any salt, manufacturers add a little lactic acid to the butter to give it a little tang. It's a cheaper way to give a little bit of cultured flavor to butter (like what the Europeans do) without actually having to culture the cream. I think between those two things, the butter just tastes extra fresh and delicious. Additionally, now that I am used to the lower sodium, regular salted butter seems overwhelming to me.
The other good news is, that in my experience, it doesn't matter what butter you use. Name brand or store bought, it all comes out tasting about the same. Yay!
In other news, see the utensil in that bowl? That's called a "sandwich spreader" in food service lingo. May just be the most awesome tool ever made. I use them for everything. In this case, though, they make mixing butter like this a breeze and they make spreading soft butter on toast amazingly easy. I own around half a dozen of them and almost start crying when I realize they're all in the dishwasher. :-)