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Most (or even all?) butter found at the grocery store is labeled "sweet cream". Is there a distinction between this and another type of cream, and if so, what is it?

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Is this country-specific, as I've never known butter to say anything about cream on it (UK)? –  Orbling May 10 '11 at 0:03
    
@orbling -- This is in the U.S. –  keithjgrant May 10 '11 at 16:25
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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It means the butter is made from cream that hasn't been fermented. Butter made from fermented cream is known as "cultured cream butter", and it has distinct sour, lactic acid notes. Sweet cream butter tastes, well, sweet, and if it is from really good fresh milk you may be able to taste grassy notes. Both are good in their own way.

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"Sweet cream" is the same as "cream" (as opposed to sour cream).

So they are telling you that the butter is made from cream, which is naturally rich in butterfat.

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According to the Third addition of "Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products", butter would have been classified as either sweet or ripened. Ripened butter was given its flavor by the chemical compound diacetyl, which was the by-product of various commercially available strains of streptococci.

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It is also a common misconception that the definition of sweet butter has no salt added. –  SArmtrong Nov 29 '13 at 5:36
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"sweet cream" butter tastes sweeter than non-sweet cream because it doesn't have (or has much less) salt in it.

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A quick search of Google images shows that many salted and unsalted butter packages are labeled "Sweet Cream". –  keithjgrant May 17 '11 at 18:41
    
Not only that, but a certain amount of salt would make it taste sweeter, since salt tends to amplify other tastes. –  Aaronut May 17 '11 at 22:04
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