culinary review

How To Store Butter – How Long Can You Keep Butter Out?

Last Modified: 01/31/11
First Published: 10/14/09
Views: 8232
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Views: 8232
What would we do without butter? Most people use butter frequently: we cook with it, spread it on bread and crackers, bake with it, put it on pancakes and waffles... The list goes on. However, we haven't just always used plain butter. Spreadable butter in all its shapes and sizes, as well as margarine, have been popular additions to the fridge for many years, however recently, many families have chosen to forgo such substitutes for butter: simply real butter. There are several benefits of using regular butter for all your butter needs: most likely you know what's in it: no unexpected surprises or strange stabilizers, plus it's cheaper to only purchase one kind instead of several products which might just sit in the fridge without getting used up. If you use real butter then you get good flavor as well as a reasonable assurance of the quality.
However one thing is always tricky with butter. How do you store it? If you store butter in the fridge, then it's cold and hard, and you can't exactly spread it easily. If on the other hand the butter is room temperature, then it's easy to apply to almost anything and the flavor is more pronounced as well. But can you keep butter out on the counter? Is it safe? Won't it go rancid?

Well, perhaps we have all been a bit too hyper about keeping our butter cool and stored away. Butter is made up of saturated fat, and those types of fats are more protected against spoilage as opposed to unsaturated fats (olive oil). In fact, a piece of butter can keep for several days out without going bad. That said, you shouldn't keep all your butter on the counter, but store it in the fridge or in the freezer for longer shelf life. If however you want to keep spreadable butter on hand, then you can easily keep a butter dish out with one or a half stick of butter on the counter without fear of spoilage for a couple of days. As long as you don't store it for too long, which is easily prevented by simply storing small amounts at a time and replacing it when it gets used up, then you could always have room temperature butter on hand.

There is in fact a dish called French butter dish or Acadian butter dish which feature a lid with a long interior lip which sits in a container with a small amount of water. You keep the butter in the lid and the dish holds enough water to submerge the interior lip when the dish is closed. By this method, the butter is sealed in the cup and the water keeps it blocked from air and acts as a temperature equalizer, keeping the butter cool. This method is great if you want to protect your butter, however a regular butter dish in ceramic or other material that blocks the light (not glass!) could of course also be used, as long as you use up your butter within a couple of days.

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