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Making butter better!

I was browsing the results of two of my favourite keywords on UsedOttawa recently (“vintage” and “kitchen”) when I got to thinking about my own favourite kitchen finds: a butter bell. It’s a pretty old concept, and very simple, and I bet it was around long before the advent of refrigeration. Inside the jar there is a hollow bell-shaped space attached to the lid. This is where the butter goes. A small amount of cool water is kept in the bottom of the jar to keep the butter at the proper temperature.

It looks like this:


Photo by shesewsseashells

Allow me to indulge in some personal butter backstory.

Growing up, the butter was kept in the fridge. We also used margarine, the bright and yellow kind valued for its spreadable consistency. (Butter was not the only sandwich spread in our house, nay, we also used goose lard. YES INDEED.)

When I first met my husband I was surprised to learn that he left his butter out on the counter. I secretly wondered if he was off his rocker, because as we all know, butter goes bad.

I learned that a small amount (I’m talking any amount under a pound) won’t go bad right away if left unrefrigerated. But I do believe its lifespan is compromised the longer it sits out, and as soon as it hits the counter it begins a downward slide towards the town of Rancid. The salt in the butter acts as a preservative and stretches out its lifespan somewhat, but here’s the rub, we buy unsalted butter. It’s better for recipes (I’ve had professional chefs recommend this to me) and I prefer the taste of it. If I have a salt craving I add a little sprinkle to the top on my toast.

Unsalted butter, however, doesn’t stay as fresh as its saltier counterpart if it is kept on the counter.

Do you leave your butter in the fridge, therefore forcing you to slice off great big squares of it for your toast? Or do you leave it on the counter to soften, therefore (erm, hopefully) using less of it because it’s so easily spreadable? This is one of life’s big questions!

So, back to the butter bell. We’ve been using it for awhile now, and it has kept its promises. I’m pretty happy with it. It really does keep the butter soft, and rather miraculously, keep its fresh flavour. It has to do with the water creating a seal, but the scientific aspect is less important to me. What’s important here is that the butter is spreadable and ready, whenever I want it.

Mother of two imps and wife of one. Writer, photographer, pro blogger, adventure-seeker, Ottawaholic, social media evangelist and lover of STUFF. Also known as @missfish on Twitter.

7 Responses to “Making butter better!”

[…] better believe it. I’m writing about butter on the UsedEverywhere blog […]



My mom always kept her butter out on the counter in a covered dish. I probably would too, but we hardly ever use it due to allergies to milk in the family.

Still, your butter bell is just so incredibly pretty that I’ve already searched around to see how much one would cost. I’m a sucker for pretty.


    Andrea Tomkins

    Ha! I’m a sucker for the pretty too. 🙂


Forgot to mention – will most likely now find myself searching for “vintage kitchen” on a daily basis. You’ll be hearing from my husband :).



I put about half a pound of butter out, the rest goes in the fridge. I can use up half a pound before it goes bad – but I use it a lot. I cook chicken and fish in butter, add it to grains like millet and put a bit on vegetables. I do, however, make sure it’s airtight – I put it in an old yogurt container with a lid.
Also, I’ve always been of the philosophy that butter is butter, so I bought the cheapest stuff. But recently I’ve been reading about all the hormones in dairy and I’m not impressed, so I started buying organic butter, which looks and tastes better and is actually worth spending more than twice the price.


    Andrea Tomkins

    Organic butter is MUCH better. Tastes amazing and I love it.

Mary @ Parenthood

Crazy! I’ve never heard of a butter bell before but we never keep butter out because it goes rancid so fast. A couple hours I can deal with, but once it starts forming those moisture balls on the outside (typically if I leave overnight), then I really find the taste has been compromised! Have to start looking for one of my own…


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