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Here’s the true secret to easily spreadable butter

on August 27, 2014 8:00 am

butter-crocks

It seems many people are looking for the perfect method for buttering up their toasts and bagels.  Julie was disappointed with the knife that promised to use the heat of her hand to make butter spreadable that she reviewed yesterday.  As Julie mentioned, butter can actually be left out on the counter without refrigeration, but I don’t particularly care for just leaving the butter sitting out.  I’ve tried two methods for keeping butter fresh and covered while keeping it soft and spreadable.  I’ve tried the Butter Bell (two versions seen in the top row of images) and the Butter Boat.  Both methods use the cooling properties of ceramics and water to keep the butter soft and fresh.

With the Butter Bells, you’ll have to let the butter soften at room temperature, then pack it into the bell-shaped holder under the lid.  You place cold water in the base, then put the lid on.  The surface of the butter is under water, keeping it from exposure to the air.  The water and ceramic keeps it just a bit cooled, but it’s still soft enough to spread.  You need to replace the water every couple of days to keep things fresh.

The Butter Boat is my favorite method of keeping butter out of the fridge.  You simply place a stick of butter in the top bowl.  You place cold water in the bottom bowl, where it keeps the upper bowl and the butter it holds a little chilled for freshness.  It’s not too cold, so the butter is still soft.  The lid keeps the butter covered.  You also need to replace the water in the Butter Boat every couple of days.

As I mentioned, I’ve owned and used both of these types of butter keepers.  I actually like the look and the size of the Butter Bells more, but I prefer to use the Butter Boat because the water doesn’t actually come into contact with the butter.  You can find both of these butter keepers at Amazon by searching for Butter Boat or Butter Bell.  The Butter Bells types vary from about $10 for a Norpro version (upper right), to about $22 for the actual Butter Bell (upper left), to about $35 for the Le Creuset version (not shown).  The Butter Boats are about $20.

Comments

  1. 1

    Janet thanks for the ideas! :)

  2. 2
    Greg Carter says:

    Janet, how long does butter keep in the Butter Boat?

  3. 3

    @Greg Carter I never really tested how long it would keep, because I would always err on the side of caution. I’d put a half stick in there, although it would hold a whole stick. We are just a family of three, so if it wasn’t all gone by the end of a week, I’d throw the bit remaining away. It still tasted fresh, though, and I’m sure it was still edible.

  4. 4
    Sandee Cohen says:

    @Greg The butterbell.com website says that the butter can be kept “weeks” without refrigeration.

    I would imagine if your family is more than two and loves butter at at least once a day, the butter would be used up before it went bad.

  5. 5
    Lee Carlson says:

    I’d imagine after a few hours any of these methods will simply be at room temperature. I’ve been using a pyrex bowl with an airtight lid for a few years. We use a half stick at a time and get a clean bowl every time we change the stick which is about once a week. I’ve never sensed the slightest hint of the butter turning. Might not be okay to those who don’t want there food near plastic lids. Although, the butter doesn’t need to touch the lid. Just my two cents.

  6. 6
    Greg Carter says:

    I ran across a butter bell at a bed and breakfast a few years ago. I thought it was fantastic, but I think I’m too lazy at home to do the extra packing and cleaning this requires vs. the just unwrapping sticks to put on the current butter dish in the fridge.

    The butter boat, though, could be an interesting alternative. I found a few threads on this topic by googling and there are about as many people who never refrigerate butter as those who would never leave it out for more than 10-15 minutes. Some make a point of saying that they use salted butter to help preserve it – I like unsalted – but that is not universal. It seems like it would be worth a try if I used butter more often.

    My solution to hard butter when I’m impatient is to grab one of the really sharp knives!

  7. 7
    DStaal says:

    For those wondering how long it would last set out: I rarely use butter, and I keep it set out on the counter. (In a covered plastic dish – basically one of the cheap ones at Walmart.) As long as I keep it out of actually sitting in the sun, I’ve never had a problem, even when I’ve left it there for months without using it.

  8. 8
    Cynthia says:

    how do you keep the butter from falling into the butter mine wont stay in the bell

  9. 9

    @Cynthia You have to make sure you pack the butter in tightly enough that you get any air pockets squeezed out, and you need to make sure the room isn’t so hot it starts to melt the butter.

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