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Mmmm … butter. I’ve never been someone who eats a ton of butter. Unless, of course, my husband brings home a fresh baguette, especially the uncooked one he gets at Ralph’s (just pop it in the oven, bake it and enjoy the smell and taste of freshly baked bread at home). Warm bread begs for butter. RELATED: Trader Joe’s Best Kept Secret … And It’s Not Even Food
Beyond that, I mostly use butter for the kids when I’m making their sandwiches or pasta or mashed potatoes. For toast and sandwiches, I always need soft, spreadable butter but never have any. It’s always in a hard block in the fridge.
So, as my kids got older and my butter needs increased, I bought a nice little butter dish and started keeping butter on the counter.
My husband, the kind of man who’s constantly checking expiry dates and questioning the freshness of literally everything in the house, would always eyeball that butter dish, raise an eyebrow and ask if the butter was okay. I don’t know, I would shrug. It seems fine, it tastes fine, it smells fine and none of us have gotten sick …
His constant questions about the freshness of the butter made me do a little research. According to the USDA, “butter and margarine are safe at room temperature. However, if butter is left out at room temperature for several days, the flavor can turn rancid so it’s best to leave out whatever you can use within a day or two.”
According to the American Butter Institute (ABI), a trade association for manufacturers, processors, marketers and distributors of butter and butter products, “if salted butter is your go-to, it can be stored on your counter for a few days! Leaving a stick or two out at room temperature will do no harm if your kitchen is kept at 70 degrees or cooler. The salt content helps keep butter fresh, even out of the refrigerator. Once it’s softened, salted butter should be used within one week.”
Because of this, I started buying salted butter since the salt acts as a preservative and means you can leave the butter out at room temperature for longer than unsalted butter.
However, the other day, I stumbled upon an article that wagged its finger at me and accused me of still storing my butter wrong. How many ways are there to store butter, you ask? Apparently, there’s a better way and now I wish I had discovered it sooner.
Instead of a typical butter dish, the French use something called a ‘butter keeper’ or ‘butter crock’ or ‘butter bell’. Instead of just leaving the butter out in a dish, where it can go rancid quickly and can often turn into a goopy mess if the temperature in your house gets too warm, a butter crock will help to regulate the butter’s temperature thanks to some water.
So, how does it work? The French butter crock is made up of two parts, the top part, or bell, where you store the butter and a bottom base, where you store water. The big difference between a butter dish as we know it and a butter crock is that the butter crock uses water to create an airtight seal, keeping the butter inside fresher longer. In fact, butter stored this way in a butter crock can be kept at room temperature on your countertop for up to a month.
A month! So much better than a couple of days or even a week because even though we do use butter, we’re not using so much that we’re going through a stick a week. However, it’s important to note that it’s recommended to use salted butter and for a dash of extra protection, put a pinch of salt into the water at the bottom of the crock. And be sure to change the water in the crock every three days.
I ordered my own butter crock immediately from Amazon and it works like a charm. Plus, it’s super cute and looks great on the counter.
The butter crock that I bought (pictured above), comes in a variety of colors.
If you’re wondering how exactly to get the butter into the butter crock as I did, here’s a quick YouTube video to show you how to do it:
So, if you like butter and want to make sure you’re storing yours safely, invest in a French butter crock. For under $20, it’s a worthwhile investment. Bon appetit!
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