I’m of the (paleo-based) belief that butter is not bad for you. I used to use a “spreadable butter” type product but only a few of them are 100% butter – many are mixed with vegetable oil to make them spreadable – and all of them cost a lot more than ordinary butter.
The problem with ordinary butter is that, when kept in the fridge to keep it fresh, it’s horrible to spread. It smashes up the bread or toast, so I end up microwaving it a little before use. This takes extra time, and involves microwaving (which one day I’m going to get around to trying to cut out completely). You can keep it outside the fridge in a butter dish, but in this house we don’t use enough butter to use it up before it goes off. Basically, I wanted a place to keep butter fresh, but spreadable, for a good length of time. Enter my DIY butter crock.
A butter crock, or “French butter dish”, is a vessel for keeping butter fresh at room temperature. It’s made up of two parts: a cup which the butter is packed into, and a water-filled base which the cup sits in, upside down. The water creates an airtight seal so that no oxygen can reach the butter and cause it to spoil.
I had been hankering after a Butter Bell (a brand of butter crock), but didn’t know if it was actually going to work so didn’t want to fork out the £17 to risk it. So I decided to try making my own.
You will need just three things:
- A vessel with a lid
- A cup or glass which will fit upside down in the vessel, and still allow the lid to go on
- A pack of butter
(I got my glass lidded container from Home Bargains for 3 or 4 pounds, and the glass from Ikea for 50p. I would’ve preferred the glass to be unpatterned, but it fitted perfectly and it’s kind of obscured inside the crock anyway.)
You can use salted or unsalted butter, whichever you like to use. I used unsalted butter, but I add salt to the water to help preserve the butter for longer. This tactic is working nicely for me, even in summer. Whichever type of butter you use, you’ll need to change the water in the butter crock every couple of days, to keep it fresh. I have found that my unsalted butter stays fresh for a month or so in the butter crock.
Now you’re ready to put the butter in the crock!
Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Using a spoon, fill the cup with the soft butter.
(I use half the pack of butter, then keep the other half in the fridge to refill the butter crock when it’s empty. That’s because the glass won’t quite take a full pack, and half a pack lasts us quite a long time in this house.)
Press it down well so that there are no gaps between the butter and the cup. This prevents the butter from falling out of the cup when you turn it upside down! You can see from the base of my cup that there are no air pockets:
Put some water in your vessel, and add a sprinkle of table salt.
No exact measurements needed – the salt isn’t going to be eaten, it’s just in the water.
Now put your butter cup upside down into the water.
This will displace some of the water – if it’s overflowing just use a little less water. (Tip: Try tilting the butter cup a little as you place it in the crock, to minimise the air bubble between the butter and the water.)
Pop the lid on, and there you have it!
This cost me a fraction of the price of branded butter crocks, and it really works. Lovely fresh, spreadable butter at all times. In winter, if your kitchen is cold, the butter may be less spreadable than usual – but it’s always more usable than it would’ve been from the fridge!