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Butter Bell Issue

  • j

I got a Butter Bell just around Christmas (one of those things that let you leave butter out at room temp by inverting a crock of butter into a container of water, thus creating a vacuum seal). I have followed the directions about replacing the water every few days, but I find that after a while the bell develops a sort of blue/green stain that I cannot quite identify. It may be residue from my water, which comes from a well, but I have an iron filter, so I would not expect that to happen. Any ideas?

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  1. If you had chlorinated city water, I would have suggested that chlorine by-products were the problem. Iron stains are red.

    Does the stuff scrub off when you wash the bell?

    How long do you go between emptying this out and washing it? You might be breeding some sort of blue-green mold.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ironmom

      It is easily wiped off and seems to be attracted only to the bits of porcelain that hit the water.

      1. re: James G

        Ceramics are insulators, however, porcelains are made with metals so there could be a small electric charge of some sort. Is the blue green color close to the patina a copper roof gets? You may have dissolved copper salts in the water.

    2. I've used a butter bell for a few years now, filling it with NYC tap water, and I've only seen the blue-green stain when I've been neglectful about changing the water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Susan Hope

        Mine's ceramic and I've had it for about a month. I change the water every other day, and wash both sections whenever I've scraped the last of the butter out of it, and have had no problems with residues. In the summer I plan to change the water daily.

        BTW, last winter I kept the butter out on the counter in an old-fashioned covered glass butter dish, and it was fine.

      2. Today I looked up info about butter bells. I got one yesterday at a yard sale, WS $1. Didn't know how to use it but read some info and did it this morning as directed. Hope I get no colored residue and hope it's worth the effort if not, on "E" sales it goes...

        1 Reply
        1. re: iL Divo

          My Mum and I had the exact same one. She loves hers and often forgets to change the water. I hated mine. My butter actually went mouldy! I can leave it out in a dish and not have that problem! Might have just been the butter or a small crumb in it or something. The other thing i didn't like was that every now and again the butter would fall out and land in the water. You really have to squish it in there so it sticks to the dish.

          I just keep small amounts in an ordinary plastic container with a lid now. Mum still uses her bell

        2. Personally, I find that I get better results when I change the water EVERY day, and so I keep the bell right next to the sink, and just change it every morning while waiting for my coffee. Since I pack it full of Organic Valley pastured butter (at $6+ a pound!) I wouldn't want to risk it going rancid.

          1. We have used a butter bell for over 6 months so far and I remember my great-grandmother had a similar device in the 50s. Our secret is to change the water every couple of days. When the butter runs out after about 4 uses, I take a paper towel and clean out all remaining butter and use it to grease a pan or sheet before use and then refill with fresh butter and water.

            To answer the issue of butter falling out, this can happen but I find the best approach to refilling the bell is to take the softened butter still in its wrapper and pushing the butter stick it into the bell completely using the butter wrapper and then smothing it out again using the butter wrapper. Basically srapping the butter wrapper to remove all butter from it and smoothing out the butter to the surface of the bell. Since fat and water do not mix, if some of the butter touches the water its OK. Replacing the water every couple of days prevents any issues. We have actually gone over a week without changin the water and the butter was perfect and nothing "growning" inside.

            It is a great tool to have soft butter for spreading when needed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jimsan

              So far I have no complaints with my yard sale find of the William Sonoma butter bell for a buck.
              But I also don't think ( so far ) that it's my all time favorite kitchen gadget. I'm thankful to have found it for that price cause knowing now how they work, I'd be peeved if I'd spent too much on something I'm only marginally fond of.

              1. re: iL Divo

                still no spoiled butter, still no weird water ring, still no problem with the outcome of the butter

            2. I''ve used one of those French butter keepers, or, I guess, it's also called a Butter Bell , for about five years. Routinely keep butter in it for weeks on end, with no stain/mold/ et al. Never bother to replace the water. Holds two sticks of butter, so go through it in about two weeks or so. Have only seen mold when it gets over three weeks or so. Suspect your problem may be in the pottery itself, or your water.