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Leaving Butter Out at Room Temp?

Anyone else out there leave their butter out (in a covered dish) for days or weeks at a time?

I started doing this after talking to a coworker who does it, and it makes perfect sense. Nothing I hate more than trying to spread ROCK hard butter on something.

I know it's a dairy product, but my coworker and I both do this regularly. Are we courting potential disaster?

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  1. always. I also HATE rock hard butter

    1. No.

      I recently found a foil wrapped hunk of President french butter in my pantry closet, in a bag along with some flour. It had been there for more than a month, and was perfectly fine and solid.

      Of course, this was a low-moisture product - american butters mostly have more water in them, and could, I guess be more prone to spoiling at room temp, given exposure to heat and humidity but I think it would take a while and you would know.

      1. I've got to tell you, this hits on a huge pet peeve of mine at restaurants. Don't bring me hard butter. How hard is it to just let the dishes sit out at room temp or quick heat them in an oven?

        7 Replies
        1. re: jpschust

          Unfortunately, in many jurisdictions, health codes do not allow restaurants to keep butter at room temperature. Health codes can be really stupid sometimes. Where I work, one time the health inspector was visiting while some stock wqas simmering on the stove and she told the owner that he had to keep a lid on all pots at all times.

          Anyway, we really don't want to serve you rock hard butter, but if the health inspector is around, we have to.

          1. re: hilltowner

            I always wondered the same thing......Now I know. (Thanks.)

            1. re: hilltowner

              Speaking of stupid health inspectors, a few years ago health inspectors started forbidding makers of fresh mozzerella from leaving their product unrefridgerated...of course you can't refridg fresh mozz, it spoils the texture. So to be sure the mozz that they found was not sold to the public, they poured bleach into the water (or is it whey) it was being held in. Nice! This happened in an italian neighborhood in brooklyn. But hey, they are still getting away with it somehow, thank goodness.

              1. re: prunefeet

                Fiore's in Hoboken (on Adams between 4th and 5th) makes and sells fresh, hand-made, moz. It is heaven. And it doe NOT sit in a refrigerator. It is sold at room temp., and they advise you not to ruin it by refrigerating it.

                And I have been leaving my butter at room temp. all of my life.

              2. re: hilltowner

                I used to work in the pastry shop of a luxury hotel, and we always kept a working quantity of butter (about 30 1-lb. blocks) out at room temperature--this way it was always at a workable consistency when we needed it. (and no, no one ever got sick from our stuff, and the butter never tasted 'off').

                The only time we ever kept all our butter refrigerated was when the health inspectors were on their way!

                1. re: Piglet

                  Piglet, I bake, and we keep out butter (1 lb blocks) submerged in a hotel pan of cool(50F)water. It satisfies the health dept regulations, and yet it is soft enough to cream properly.

                  I leave the butter on the counter/table during the hottest summer in a butter bell.

                  1. re: Piglet

                    The health department let you know when they were coming? Never heard of such a thing.

              3. No, I leave my butter out in a butter boat all the time (without the water receptacle below the actual butter holder in the winter). The ONLY time I put it in the fridge is in the summer, when the butter boat doesn't keep it firm enough.

                1. Use a butter boat in the summer, not in the winter no need to.
                  Keep the butter in the fridge for baking.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Only butter in my fridge is for baking and cooking purposes. I have never gotten sick from butter.

                    1. re: cookieluvntasha

                      rancid butter will not make you sick, but you will sure regret eating it. a taste that just won't go away.

                  2. Never put butter in the fridge -- never have, never will. I bought a perfectly lovely covered butter dish on eBay to keep the cats from helping themselves but being in San Francisco, our temperature is moderate enough that I don't even have to worry about it in the summer!

                    1. Hard butter is lousy, rancid butter is worse.

                      DW and I had this exact discussion this weekend on why people leave butter on the counter. I have yet to see an article telling me this practice is safe, other than in water.

                      Could someone who keeps their butter on the counter tell me why the butter does not go rancid. It just scares me why so many want to take the chance on rancid.


                      17 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        Because I use it up faster than it would go rancid.

                        Here's some info on butter bells that help prevent rancidity:


                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          no prob from jfood w a butter bell, its w/o that is troubling.

                          How often do you change the water in the bell?

                          1. re: jfood

                            I actually don't use a butter bell - I use a butter boat, which doesn't have the butter touching water. I think they suggest changing butter bell water every 3 days or so.

                            Here's something similar to what I use - looks like a covered butter dish with the water going in the lower part.


                            And I've kept butter out of the fridge for at least the last 15 years, and haven't died yet. ;-)

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I actually have this butter boat. It's great.

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            I just found one of these at a yard sale late week. We've been using it all week and we love it!

                          3. re: jfood

                            JFood, I'm with LindaWhit -- it actually takes a relatively long time for butter to go rancid (several weeks, I believe). I am the only butter user in my household and I tend to go through one stick every 10 days or so without ever having tasted it as rancid.

                            I have an idea -- conduct an experiment for yourself; put a stick of butter out and taste it every day for a month. You should be able to discern when it starts tasting "different" without getting ill or sick.

                            But I've never had any problem and I've been doing it for almost 40 years.

                            1. re: Carrie 218

                              Do you use a bell or just leave it out?

                              1. re: jfood

                                When I lived in the Midwest I used to leave it out routinely, no butter bell (never heard of such a thing!) -- it was just in the cabinet with the flour and sugar.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  But all that changed when you moved to SoCal?

                                  1. re: allegro805

                                    I don't leave it out during summer anymore, no... it melts even in the air conditioning. Now I put it in the wine fridge.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      One of the advantages of having an old 2-story house here in SoCal is that the ground floor stays pretty cool unless the temperatures have been 90+ for a week or more... and if your upstairs has AC, downstairs stays nice. So the butter does not melt. Couldn't do that in Tennessee, though - it'd start getting moldy before it went rancid, especially if the bell top had not been scrubbed thoroughly.

                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Also in the Midwest and we leave ours out except during the very hot summer weeks when it starts to melt. No "bell" or "boat," I've never heard of those either. My mother and grandmother always left theirs out as well, several generations here of people who are just fine, no rancid butter.

                              2. re: jfood

                                I have never ever ever put the butter in the fridge, I have a covered butter dish which sits on the counter, we go through about half a pound of butter in a week or 2 and it is never rancid and I live in South Fl these days but from London before that.

                                Beats me why anyone would want hard butter. Do you think butter was refridgerated many moons ago? No. It was kept in the meat safe along with meat and cheese which was as cool as possible.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  It is very simply why butter is safe kept at room temperature. Butter is not milk or cream it is just milk-fat and salt. Do you keep your Crisco or your salt in the refrigerator? It is sold in the dairy isle because it is a dairy related product it is the fat from milk. It is kept refrigerated because it does keep longer. Grocery stores will keep months of stock on hand to avoid not having a product. The FDA places overly strict regulations on the shelf life of products for your safety. How any people would get sick if they knew the self-life of something was really years, lose track of how long they've had it and use it when it is actually rancid because it really did expire 2 months ago. The shelf life of our products is also a product of our consumer society. We throw stuff out more than we actually use; this fuels our economy. If the inconvenience of hard butter does not bother you, keep it in the refrigerator. If you like soft butter that delicious and usable keep it covered and on the counter or kitchen table; it is perfectly safe.

                                  1. re: NateBHere

                                    milkfat and salt is ghee, not butter. butter still has proteins and stuff in it.

                                  2. re: jfood

                                    I've kept butter in a covered dish on the counter for years, and I've never gotten sick. I can recall once or twice when a small amount at the end of the stick did go rancid after a long period of time.There's no way you'd eat that by mistake unless you were in a coma. And even if you did, I'm not sure it'd make you ill

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      jfood, I have kept butter on the counter for about 30 years with never any rancidity. Believe me, I would know rancid - I have "those" taste buds!

                                    2. Yes, I do it, and it can go bad eventually. Just check before using ... I can tell by looking whether something's wrong. Try doing just half a stick at a time ...

                                      1. I keep 1/4 lb. or less in my covered butter dish on the counter - the rest of the lb. goes in the fridge. Except for the time I went on vacation for 3 weeks in the summer and forgot to empty the butter dish (bleah), the room temperature butter has never been anything but fine. If I don't use that bit within a week, I'll just use it in cooking, wash the dish and put out a fresh chunk. You can taste and smell rancid - if it were rancid, you'd know at first sniff.

                                        1. In a covered butter dish at room temp. is what I do. I keep my home at about 70F year 'round so it stays just right for spreading.

                                          1. I leave my butter out on the counter too, in a covered butter dish.

                                            It can go rancid if you leave it for long enough so I cut off a week's worth of butter at a time and leave the rest in the fridge.

                                            1. I have yet to have my room temp. butter go off--and I live alone! (what can I say--I love toast)

                                              I don't use a bell, just a dish. I have a cold kitchen in winter, but sometimes in summer I have to put it in the fridge because without AC it can actually get melty and messy.

                                              Rancidity is just another term for oxidation--the butter isn't unsafe, just different tasting. Like most fats, it's actually pretty good as a preservation device.

                                              I tend to use salted butter--it may be different for sweet butter.

                                              1. So glad to hear so many do it. I don't use a bell, and I don't find any rancid taste at all up to at least 3-4 weeks, easily. Usually temps here in coastal Calif are about 65-70 degrees.

                                                Oh, and of course I only keep one stick out at a time -- the rest of the pound goes in the fridge.

                                                1. I use a bell year round in Phoenix. This time of year you really don't need the bell...my kitchen has been pretty cook since early Dec but without a bell you gotta keep it in the fridge here during the summer months.

                                                  1. My butter stays out from the time I unwrap a stick till it's gone. In the winter I still sometimes have to nuke it to get it soft enough to spread. In summer it occasionally gets too soft. But I've never had any go bad.

                                                    1. Unless I am trying to cut back a bit (which given the holiday season just passed, is now), my butter always stays out at room temperature. It's the only way to keep it as it always will be a at a spreadable consistency. It's not in one of those cute butter bells but instead is just in a covered dish.

                                                      1. I leave it out too. Actually, I have this great butter boat that I purchased online that allows me to warm or cool the butter. The butter dish sits inside a ceramic "boat" that you fill with either a little bit of cool water. It helps keep your butter from getting too soft during warmer months, and it helps it stay softer during cooler months. It's AWESOME.

                                                        I got it on QVC.com (shocking!). Type in item #: K74491

                                                        It comes in several patterns, though I stuck with plain white.

                                                        1. I keep the big block in the fridge, and cut off a chunk every few days to leave out to soften. I don't bake, so I don't usually need large amounts of softened butter - it's just for my bread and cooking. It'll be gone in a few days, and a 'fresh' chunk will come out.

                                                          1. Count me among the butterbell users -- I hate hard butter!

                                                            Even if the butter is rancid, it won't make you sick -- it just tastes bad. Under certain conditions butter will get moldy, but again, that won't make you sick.

                                                            Butter was around for thousands of years before there was refrigeration!

                                                            1. Butter is an ancient way of preserving buttercream in temperate climates. It needs no refrigeration as such, but refrigeration (or even better, freezing) slows the maturing process down. Butter gets softer around 20C (68F), so in US summers it makes sense to refrigerate it more unless you have a climate controlled kitchen year-round....

                                                              1. We use a butter bell with about half a stick of butter at a time, and it never goes rancid. Every now and then, *somebody* will leave bread crumbs in it, which will then go fuzzy and green, but that's not the butter's fault.

                                                                1. I actually prefer the taste of butter on bread when it's slightly cool. Not fridge-stiff, but out of the fridge for an hour or so.

                                                                  For everyday use, I leave it out on the counter in a covered bowl filled with water. Stays nice for at least a week (it seldom lasts longer because I use a lot of butter in cooking and baking).

                                                                  1. I like cold butter for some reason...

                                                                    But, I did use a butter bell (got it at Sur La Table) and after a week or two the butter had turned green on the surface (color of ripe avocado flesh). I figured it was bacteria so I washed it all out. This was during the summer and I had a small amount of purified water in the bell to form a wet seal. Am I using it wrong?

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: tonicart

                                                                      When the butter in my butter bell acquires color or fuzz, it originates on a bread crumb that was stuck in the butter. Could that have been the case for you?

                                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                                        Since a friend kept butter in a regular rectangular covered butter dish, I adopted the habit. Mine is unsalted, though, and I probably do get a crumb or two on it on occasion. Regardless, it often developed a blue cheese flavor before it was finished. So, clearly, mold spores found their way into it via crumb or air. I went back to keeping it in the fridge because I now reserve it for cooking/baking and use Smart Balance, which is spreadable when cold, on bread.

                                                                      2. re: tonicart

                                                                        You are using it right. Mine says to put 1/3 a cup of cool water in it.

                                                                      3. My grandfather owned his own creamery, and kept his butter in in a covered dish on the counter (1-2 sticks at a time).

                                                                        He and my grandmother both lived to 93+, so that's enough evidence for me to know that it's safe!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: kpsd

                                                                          My grandparents did the same in Miami, FL and they both lived well into their late 80s. Kitchens were all tile back then, but I doubt that really made a big difference. They had no AC. My grandma used the butter so quickly in her Cuban dishes that it never got rancid. I have continued the practice, as I am spoiled for the soft butter. I have many butter 'boats' and often find them in consignment or thrift stores in all types of glass and ceramic. I now live in NC and the butter sits out year round and I've never had it get rancid. I use about a stick a week. I do keep the unused sticks in the refrigerator, but only for longer shelf life.

                                                                        2. As long as the knife you use is clean and the dish is covered tightly, there shouldn't be a problem.

                                                                          (if you're not against it, though, you could always buy the "spreadable" butter stuff. I've never looked at it closely, so I don't know if it's real butter or butter with crap added in it)

                                                                          Writing away about my latest 3 week adventure through China at http://katacomb.blogspot.com

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Takat

                                                                            The spreadable "butter" is heavily mixed with oil. Getting breakfast ready at a friend's place last year, I took the "butter" out (Land o' Lakes in this case) and went on with other preparations. By the time breakfast was ready, the "butter" was now Liquid! Ugh.

                                                                            Gimme soft, REAL Butter any old day, even hard butter, than that junk.

                                                                          2. Seems to me the more fat that is present in a product the longer it lasts.. My friend and I discussed this today for instance skim milk goes bad faster than whole milk??? I never refrigerator my butter also salted butter would technically last even longer that non-salted

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: pikiliz

                                                                              In that case, I may last forever!

                                                                            2. I like it soft (ohhh, the temptation ... there's that good bread and there's the honey and the butter's soft...) HOWEVER I can't seem to keep my family from leaving it a bit too close to the stove, and once it's melted at room temperature it's "use it or lose it" time.

                                                                              1. Get a Butter Saver or Butter crock. I got one on amazon.com for $9.99 I think and it's an easy way to have fresh butter at room temp without it getting funky.
                                                                                I've been telling everyone I know about it cause it's a neat invention that most folks would use.


                                                                                1. I am in the midwest and we have at home two butter dishes outside all the time. One for current use and one that is ready to go when #1 ends. Soon as one is done it gets washed, dried, and refilled. We never have to worry about having too little of soft butter and too much toast or whatever you need it for.

                                                                                  1. I grew up doing it this way - in a moderate climate, it will keep for a long time. It will eventually go rancid, but if you use butter frequently, you're usually fine.

                                                                                    I can't do it in the summer, though, because room temperature is 35 degrees unless I'm home and have the AC on, and the butter melts into a puddle.

                                                                                    Clarified butter, like ghee, keeps for ages.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                      Had to confirm you were in a warm weather clime (as well as not in the U.S.) :-) This New Englander looked at 35 degrees and said "butter melts at 35 degrees?" LOL

                                                                                      Even in the U.S. when it's the dead of summer and *with* the AC on, I rarely keep butter out in 95°F. weather. Even using a butter bell/boat, it still starts looking like the Wicked Witch of the West in her mid-melting stage. :-) When it's that warm, you can take it out of the fridge and it's soft enough to be spread/usable within 15 minutes or so.

                                                                                    2. I grew up with room temp butter and keep it that way in my house. I live in southern New England, no central A/C, and the only time I refrigerate it is when the temps are going to be in the high 80s during the day. We go through a 1/4 lb. stick every week/week and a half. If it is a health hazard, I have either dodged bullets for over thirty years or it is unlikely butter will make you sick.

                                                                                      1. This is the first time I've heard of people keeping their butter at room temp.

                                                                                        Everyone in my family, including the elders, who lived well into their 90s, kept their butter in the refrigerator. (In the freezer if it wasn't going to be used for a few weeks.) Taking the butter out of the refrigerator to warm up was a standard ritual when preparing any meal.

                                                                                        I rarely use butter myself nowadays, just for baking or the occasional pancakes or oatmeal or muffins, but when it's in the house, it's kept in the refrigerator.

                                                                                        And most of the stores keep butter refrigerated.

                                                                                        Perhaps room-temp butter won't make you sick, but it's texture and appearance do change in just a matter of a day when not refrigerated. When you cut into it, you can see the difference in color and texture between the outer layer and the insides.

                                                                                        1. I'm in the room-temp camp, no butter boat. I just don't keep too much out, usually a half stick unless I know I'll be using more for cooking. So it's always used up within a week or so, certainly not long enough to go rancid even in summer temperatures. I think the flavor difference is quite noticeable, even when the butter's being melted for frying or saucing.

                                                                                          Here's the butter blurb from my kitchen tips file (various sources):

                                                                                          When you melt butter from a refrigerated temperature it loses 90% of its aroma along with most of its flavor. This is why chefs always start with it at room temp, to keep all the buttery goodness. The only exceptions being for certain pastry type doughs or for glazing, in which case it needs to be used cold.

                                                                                          If you must use cold butter, you can make a stick of cold butter spreadable by shaving slices of it from with a vegetable peeler. The thin butter ribbon will quickly turn soft and won't, for instance, tear holes in soft bread.

                                                                                          If you use wrapped butter, save the used wrappers in the freezer- when you need to grease a pan or casserole you can use the wrapper remnants for it.

                                                                                          PS; apologies if this is a duplicate reply, my first one didn't appear to go through...

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                            If you use wrapped butter, save the used wrappers in the freezer- when you need to grease a pan or casserole you can use the wrapper remnants for it.
                                                                                            I've done this for years. :-)

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              A modern Hetty Green! (Apologies, Linda, you know I luf you..)

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                LOL! Hey, I'll take Hetty's riches any day! :-) The butter wrappers was something one of my grandmothers did - I can't recall which. Both came through the Depression, and it was a habit I just picked up when I began baking. It makes total sense - they take up so little room in the freezer door and there's always enough bits of butter left on two wrappers to usually butter a cake pan.

                                                                                            2. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                              I like that veggie peeler idea. You should send if to Cooks Illustrated for their "tips" section and maybe you'll get a free year.

                                                                                            3. I've kept butter at room temp all my life - like several others have mentioned, a stick of butter doesn't stick around (heh) long enough to go rancid.

                                                                                              However, this summer, we haven't seemed to be going through it as quickly (maybe because FINALLY it's just the two of us?), and, on the counter, it gets way too melty.

                                                                                              Even THAT I could live with until the day I caught Kitty McButterButt ON the COUNTER, licking the edges of the covered butter dish.

                                                                                              Oh HECK no.

                                                                                              Now I put 2 parts butter and one part extra-virgin olive oil (we don't call it "EVOO") in the kitchenaid and whip them together - it's still nice and buttery, it's spreadable right out of the fridge. and it doesn't immediately turn to liquid at room temperature the way a 1:1 ratio did.

                                                                                              If I'm going to be baking (but not in the 90-degree humidity we've been "enjoying" this summer!), I'll pull the butter out and let it soften - somewhere safe.

                                                                                              Not sure yet if we'll go back to butter-on-the-counter when fall gets here or not. I'm kind of liking the spreadable.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Krislady

                                                                                                I leave butter out, I have all of my life, over half a century. It would be rare for it to be there long enough to go bad. I used to use a butter dish, but now I just put a stick in one of the small cheapie Glad plastic storage bowls, I don't know what size but one stick of butter mooshed up just exactly fits in it.

                                                                                                Keeps the cat out of it..

                                                                                                You will know if butter is bad. If there's black fuzz on it, it's bad. If it's rancid, you will know that too. It smells awful and tastes worse. No fuzz, no smell - you're good to go. Takes months for that sort of thing to develop unless you're living in tropical heat with no a/c.

                                                                                                People started churning butter not for fun, but because it was a prime method of preserving a dairy product. People have been "leaving butter out" for centuries, ever since it was invented. Refrigeration has been ubiquitous in the US for much less than 100 years, many parts of the world it's still a rarity, but butter and cheese and yoghurt are still there.

                                                                                                Had a disagreement with a co-student a few months ago over this very issue. I had a small pat of butter sitting out to soften up in time to get used for lunch, and she went ballistic because I was letting food sit out and go rotten. She could not believe that butter doesn't rot once it's been out of the fridge for 5 minutes. She even went and complained to them in the office, which generated a spate of nasty-grams via e-mail about letting food sit out, all of which, naturally, I ignored. Same girl went kookoo because I had milk THAT I WAS DRINKING out of the fridge.

                                                                                                There's some truth to the rumor that psychology attracts crazy people . . . .

                                                                                              2. I buy unsalted butter in 1lb blocks, keep the bulk of the block in the fridge and cut off approx 1/8 lb at a time into a little glass box with a lid that I keep in a kitchen cupboard. Room temp, delicious and spreadable. I do use a clean knife every time so I don't get crumbs into it.
                                                                                                I briefly dabbled with a "butter bell" but I found it wasn't worth the trouble. I've never really had a problem with freshness, and in fact the butter bell was just a messy hassle and sometimes the butter would fall into the water. The butter boats look like a nice option, if I wanted something to keep the butter a little cooler and fresher. I might look into that. But here it is, August, it's 100 degrees out, and my butter is perfectly happy in my kitchen cupboard.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: khh1138

                                                                                                  I almost always have margarine and I keep that fridged because it's soft to begin with, but when I started making butter out of organic heavy cream, I leave that out at room temp, mainly because it gets used so fast (I also bring the cream to room temp first because it's much faster to make butter out of it). I have heard, although I don't know for sure, that when making butter you need to squeeze all the liquid out because if you don't, that's what will make it go bad. I make sure I have every drop of liquid out that I can manage and I've kept my butter out for a week or more with no problem. But after that, I find myself just sitting down and eating the butter from the dish, so it goes in the fridge where I can't see it anymore. If I was real smart now, I'd put a lock on that fridge as well.....

                                                                                                2. Being discussed in this chow "story"

                                                                                                  "According to FDA spokesperson Tamara Ward, butter will last up to 10 days at room temperature before turning rancid. Rancid means that enzymes that are naturally present in milk begin to digest the fats in the butter, causing a sour flavor and aroma. The butter isn’t unsafe at that point, it just tastes bad...."

                                                                                                  1. We keep the salted out on the counter; unsalted stays in the fridge.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                      me, too - only change to that is when it's 90F or more -- then I just slide it into the fridge so it doesn't melt all over the counters.

                                                                                                    2. I always keep a stick of sea salted butter out on the counter in a covered butter dish. Since I use butter quite a bit, the same stick barely stays in the dish for more than a day and a half at most.

                                                                                                      1. I use a butter-bell kind of thing. Butter lasts at least a few weeks in that mode:


                                                                                                        1. I keep about 2 oz on the counter for spreading. The rest is in the fridge.

                                                                                                          And thanks to DimSumGirl and Cynsa's recent visit, I have three different kinds opened right now - my usual local, an English Double-Cream and a Bufalo.

                                                                                                          (Edited to explain: We went shopping together and shared. I don't want any DH's getting the wrong idea!)


                                                                                                          1. I put two sticks of butter at a time in a tupperware-type glass container. We live in Florida and keep the house at a warm 77F during the hot months. That temperature gives the butter an excellent consistency for spreading. It takes about two weeks for the container to need a refill and the butter has yet to go rancid. I should note that I add extra salt for the taste, and that probably helps to preserve it.

                                                                                                            1. Hard butter isn't just more difficult to spread; it is different even when used for cooking. I'm told that it has less flavor and much less aroma when it's melted from a cold state than when it's melted from room temperature. This is why pro chefs always cook with soft butter.

                                                                                                              I've always kept my butter at room temp out on the counter. I use a covered butter dish, no water. Don't use a lot of butter and I live alone so it often sits out for ten days or even two weeks before it gets used up. Only once or twice in all those years has any actually gone rancid. And my ap't is not air conditioned so on summer days it can reach 90° or so. The one concession I'll make is that if we have a long string of hot days I might put it out by the half stick rather than putting out a whole quarter.