Every once in a while, I’ll come across a kitchen-related question…and it’s usually when I’m elbow-deep into a recipe and can’t stop and take the time to find an answer! Well, I’ve compiled a few of these questions here, found some answers, and thought I’d share them with you!
- What’s the difference between salted and unsalted butter? Besides the obvious—one has salt and the other doesn’t!—there isn’t one! But I’ve always wondered which is better to use for certain recipes. Here’s what I have found: if you’re baking and want complete control over the taste, try and use unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter, reduce the extra salt called for in the recipe by half. Either one won’t change the way something cooks or bakes—so don’t stress too much about it!
*FYI: Salted butter has a longer shelf-life than unsalted butter (3 months versus 1 month, respectively) because salt is a preservative. If you slice your stick of butter and the inside is noticeably lighter than the outside, it’s time for a new stick!
- Why do you thump a watermelon to see if it’s ripe? I grew up with a Papaw who loved to garden, and to this day, I remember him thumping watermelons in the summertime to see if it was juuuuust right. I still use this test when I’m in the produce section, but for a while, I had no idea what I was listening for. But now I know! First, you want the bottom of the watermelon to be yellow or tan—if it’s white, it’s not ripe enough for a knife to cut through it. Then give it good thump. The more hollow the THUD, the riper the melon!
*If honeydew melons are more your taste, you can shake it to see if it’s ripe—you’ll be able to hear the seeds rattling around inside if it is.
- Why are there two kinds of brown sugar–light and dark? I’ll spare you all the science behind sugar cane processing, but when it gets almost to the end of the line, brown sugar comes to be when molasses are added to the raw sugar crystals. Dark brown sugar has more molasses added to it than light brown sugar. The main difference is the taste: dark brown sugar is said to taste more like toffee or caramel. They are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to baking, but light brown sugar weighs less and has less moisture because it has less molasses. Just know that dark brown sugar will rise a little higher if there is baking soda in your recipe—its acidity activates the baking soda and causes it to rise up!
*One recipe that definitely benefits from dark brown sugar’s extra flavor is gingerbread—give it a try this holiday season!
Hope these help you out—are there other baking questions you’ve come across? Share them with us!