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:
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.