HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Do you create unique foods? Get great advice


tuxedo Apr 4, 2007 10:53 AM

My SO keeps the butter dish on the counter 24/7..Every time my mom comes over I have to hear the rant on how we are being poisoned each time we use the butter!
Where do you keeo butter? On the counter or in the refrig?
( BTW - We actually have never gotten sick by having the butter out - at least not yet! )

  1. r
    ricepad Apr 4, 2007 10:57 AM

    We keep most of the butter in the fridge, but we have a butter bell on the counter with up to about half a stick in it (unsalted).

    1 Reply
    1. re: ricepad
      food.fiend Apr 4, 2007 12:58 PM

      also use the french butter bell, and love it...perfect for spreading, and the water keeps it fresh. i usually have some in the refridgerator as well, and then excess in the freezer.
      what can i say, i love butter!

    2. s
      swsidejim Apr 4, 2007 10:58 AM

      unless I am using it the butter in my house stays in the fridge.

      1. m
        mojoeater Apr 4, 2007 11:09 AM

        Butter can live a long time at room temp. Refrdgeration came long after people started to churn cream. We keep 1/2 stick in a butter dish on the counter and the rest in the fridge.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater
          debbiel Apr 4, 2007 05:05 PM

          That's how we handle it as well. I get too easily frustrated by a toasted piece of homemade bread and no soft butter. During hottest parts of summer, we might take it down to half stick on the counter. Unsalted butter in our case. It's been out for up to two weeks with no rancid flavor.

          1. re: debbiel
            maria lorraine Apr 4, 2007 10:31 PM

            Yes, exactly. Half a stick at a time in a pretty French dish with a lid, the rest in the frig. The amount you keep at room temp depends on how fast you go through it.

            BTW, *always* unsalted. I offer a nice sea salt if I'm serving bread and butter.

          2. re: mojoeater
            feelinpeckish Apr 5, 2007 02:01 PM

            That is what we do also and it is perfectly safe not to mention it keeps the product spreadable for morning muffins etc

          3. chicgail Apr 4, 2007 11:11 AM

            My former mother-in-law kept a house that was so immaculate her husband could have performed surgery in the bathrooms. And she always kept butter on the counter. It sure made buttering toast easy.

            1. LindaWhit Apr 4, 2007 11:15 AM

              One stick on the counter in a butter boat (except in the summer - even decent A/C doesn't help in the too-much-softness of that stick!); the butter waiting to be used is in the butter compartment in the fridge.

              1. b
                bonmann Apr 4, 2007 12:56 PM

                Same as most of the others, one stick in a butter boat on the counter and remainder in the fridge.

                1. jfood Apr 4, 2007 01:04 PM

                  Alas, the jfoods won;t keep butter out of the fridge, no matter what we read, how many studies, what other people do, it just ain;t happening. Totally irrational and without fact, but no can do.

                  And it is the season for soft butter to spread on matzah. So we have the option of being very careful when spreading butter or choose peanut butter for the matzah. FTR, another jar of "smooth" came up from the basement storage space this morning.

                  1. flourgirl Apr 4, 2007 01:04 PM

                    I've always kept the butter in the fridge. I had a friend a long time ago who kept the butter in the cabinet and all I can remember was the one and only time I had some on toast, it was absolutely rancid. I almost threw up. And she was happily munching away and swore the butter tasted fine.

                    But I will say I've never tried butter that was kept in a butter bell. (Hers was just in a butter dish in the cabinet - yuck, makes me sick just thinking about it.)

                    1. Tartinet Apr 4, 2007 01:13 PM

                      On the counter in the winter, in the fridge in summer.

                      Nothing beats slightly softened cultured butter on a very fresh sourdough baguette. It's my absolute favorite food. When I get diagnosed with a fatal illness, I'll start eating a loaf a day, and die happy. In the meantime, I'll keep eating my fiber and olive oil, and hope not to get hit by a truck.

                      1. The Dairy Queen Apr 4, 2007 01:14 PM

                        I love my butter bell! I change the water no less frequently than every other day and always try to keep the butter "topped off." I haven't been using a butter bell long enough to know how I'll fare in summer, though... should be interesting.


                        10 Replies
                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          mojoeater Apr 4, 2007 01:16 PM

                          I'm glad "The Dairy Queen" joined the talk. Appropriate.

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            food.fiend Apr 4, 2007 01:46 PM

                            o, they fair perfectly well... do NOT worry...

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                              monkfanatic Apr 4, 2007 11:06 PM

                              I know I sound stupid, but what is butter bell

                              1. re: monkfanatic
                                ElsieDee Apr 5, 2007 01:25 AM


                                I used to have one and loved it, but it was broken in a move and I've not gotten around to replacing it (three years later). I currently store my butter in the fridge, but may ask for a replacement butter bell for my birthday.

                                1. re: ElsieDee
                                  soupkitten Apr 6, 2007 07:57 AM

                                  whoa that site is obnoxious (the soundtrack, not the product)!!!! LOL

                                  you can also find old butter bells in thrift stores, estate sales, etc. . . sometimes the pieces are split up because people don't know what they are for, though.

                                  1. re: soupkitten
                                    ElsieDee Apr 6, 2007 12:56 PM

                                    *laughing* I am so sorry about that - my default setting is to have the sound turned-off on my computer and I always forget that some sites have, um, soundtracks. You're right - very obnoxious. I am very sorry.

                                    1. re: ElsieDee
                                      soupkitten Apr 7, 2007 08:07 PM

                                      No Prob-- i got quite a bit of entertainment from the site & it seems like a good place to get your 1st butter bell-- i'm just more used to the "vintage" item. thanks for the post.

                                2. re: monkfanatic
                                  The Dairy Queen Apr 5, 2007 02:25 AM

                                  Not a stupid question! I only learned about butter keepers/butter bells recently, and, on Chowhound of course. Here's a link to another thread on the topic.


                                  There's a lot of confusion/differing opinions on the topic of whether butter keepers keep your butter fresh, so it might be one of those things you have to read up on and/or try for yourself. I bought mine for $12 on Amazon (although, I'm sure there are fancier/more expensive ones than the simple stoneware version I bought)--we're not really talking about a huge investment down the drain if you try it and decide you don't like it. If I buy a new one, I'd probably buy the ones with the holes in them that helps ensure the water comes into contact with the butter. I originally thought the water didn't need to touch the butter, but it does, to help maintain the tightest seal. I think the butter bells with the holes are supposed to help keep the water touching the butter regardless of how much butter is in the bell...


                                  1. re: monkfanatic
                                    tuxedo Apr 5, 2007 08:30 AM

                                    my question also - don't feel stupid!

                                    1. re: monkfanatic
                                      soupkitten Apr 6, 2007 07:51 AM

                                      not a stupid question. it's an old-lady-who-lives-in the-upper-midwest, of-tenuous-northern-european-ancestry thing that deserves to be in wide use, especially with chowhounds and others who don't flinch at paying $9.50 and up for artisan unsalted butter! long live butter bells!

                                  2. ArikaDawn Apr 4, 2007 01:21 PM

                                    I probably shouldn't admit this, but unless I am baking, there is no butter regularly in the house. I only have I can't believe it's not butter which has to be refridgerated. Sad, I know.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: ArikaDawn
                                      jfood Apr 4, 2007 01:30 PM


                                      That's our go to spread in the morning as well. Put some on matzah the other day and it did not quite cut it. I think its better melted on toast than spread.

                                      1. re: jfood
                                        ArikaDawn Apr 4, 2007 03:14 PM

                                        Yes, it is definitely not great on its' own. I can totally beleive it's not butter. We use it most often with honey or jam on english muffins. Not too bad in this sort of application, but you certainly have to dress it up a bit.

                                      2. re: ArikaDawn
                                        The Dairy Queen Apr 5, 2007 02:35 AM

                                        Even though we keep a butter bell out, we don't go through that much butter, so I usually keep my spare sticks in the freezer. When I anticipate a butter need, I take it from the freezer, set it out on the counter to thaw, and smash it into the butter bell when it's softened, yet still firm (I don't let it get mushy.)


                                        1. re: ArikaDawn
                                          luniz Apr 5, 2007 05:36 AM

                                          yay I'm not the only one :)

                                          no butter in my kitchen and i don't really bake so no need. i have some kind of fake stuff in my fridge, i use it occasionally when i make omelettes but i probably should get rid of it (its probably like...3 years old!)

                                        2. azhotdish Apr 4, 2007 01:27 PM

                                          One stick (salted) on the counter and plenty of unsalted for cooking in the frig. </echo>

                                          1. rayneberry Apr 4, 2007 02:02 PM

                                            Ha ha tell your mom she's nuts, people have been keeping butter in a butter dish on the counter for years. We keep our salted on the counter right by the toaster, very convenient. No reason to put it back in the fridge everytime! Especially if you use it regularly.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: rayneberry
                                              maria lorraine Apr 4, 2007 10:19 PM

                                              NO, DON'T tell your mom she's nuts. I would suggest you put your butter in the frig before she comes over though. Or, see if she notices when you put a can of Drano next to the pepper mill and olive oil.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine
                                                tuxedo Apr 5, 2007 08:35 AM


                                            2. r
                                              renov8r Apr 4, 2007 02:26 PM

                                              As a few others have noted, one taste of rancid butter long outlasts the memory of spreadability. I suppose back when homes were generally NOT centrally heated and kitchens/larders were MUCH cooler than we keep them today the fats might have stayed fresh for a reasonable time but not now.
                                              There are smart ways to get softer butter.
                                              For baking how hard is it to let the required amounts butter soften up for few hours.
                                              For melting butter the microwave is an ideal tool.
                                              For pancakes and such it is fairly easy to cut some pats of hard butter prior to making the batter; if these sit on a conductive surface (like an anodized pan...) they'll spread just as well as the little cups at Pancake House.
                                              For fancy brunches there is nothing like some home whipped butter, I like to make a few batches, some with maple syrup, some with honey, and some with orange rind and pulverized crystallized ginger...

                                              1. c
                                                caseykay68 Apr 4, 2007 02:37 PM

                                                Somewhat related to this discussion, I too keep butter on the counter, I have no patience to try to spreak rock hard butter on toast.

                                                My other big pet peeve is when at a restaurant they give you ice cold rock hard butter pats with the bread basket...what good is that? It is just going to tear the bread apart! :)

                                                1. marmite Apr 4, 2007 03:03 PM

                                                  I always keep it in the fridge because I use it so rarely, but I remember my grandmother in England always kept it in a butter dish in the cupboard. It came out every day at teatime and I remember thinking 'why isn't she getting sick from eating room temperature butter?'

                                                  Relatedly, she also used to have a container of (room-temperature) butter and Marmite she had pre-mixed to save time at teatime. I cannot adequately express how revolting that was. I made my mother promise that when she herself became an old English lady she would never do this.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: marmite
                                                    Kagey Apr 5, 2007 05:20 AM

                                                    That's funny. I saw a Nigella program where she whipped up a bowl of butter and marmite to use on the kids' sandwiches (she had a big group of them over to the house). I guess if you have to feed an army of hungry kids quickly, it makes sense, but it did look kind of gross.

                                                    1. re: Kagey
                                                      marmite Apr 5, 2007 08:32 AM

                                                      It was upsetting to me for many reasons.
                                                      One, because it looks nasty.
                                                      Two, because I don't like Marmite with butter. Those were the days before I ate butter at all, but now that I do I wouldn't dream of putting Marmite on it. That's what mayonnaise is for. :)
                                                      Three, because it was done as a handy time-saver, but really, why do we have to rush through teatime? How long does it take to spread 2 separate things on toast? It's just baffling.

                                                      1. re: marmite
                                                        Kagey Apr 10, 2007 02:17 AM

                                                        Not to mention that if you mix them, then you also have the extra bowl and utensils to wash!

                                                        But I'm not sure if I can abide mayonnaise with Marmite! I usually just spread the Marmite on the naked toast.

                                                  2. Megiac Apr 4, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                    We keep it in the fridge, but when we want spreadability, slice off as big of a piece we want and zap it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to soften it just slightly.

                                                    1. leanneabe Apr 4, 2007 03:21 PM

                                                      We've left butter on the counter for over a week, but that's also when we would be using it a lot so it wouldn't last more than a couple of weeks at best. I put it in a shallow ceramic dish and cover it with plastic wrap. Sadly, the butter had to go back to the fridge after I came home to find the plastic gone, an odd dent in the butter, and a cat fastidiously cleaning herself on a nearby chair.

                                                      1. Karl S Apr 4, 2007 03:56 PM

                                                        Butter is an ancient foodstuff, long predating refrigeration. It does not require refrigeration, though refrigeration (or, better, freezing) will of course extend its life a lot.

                                                        Butter softens noticeably above 68F/20C. For American homes that are kept warm, or during the summer months in most of the US, that means it will get messy to handle above that point. Otherwise, keeping it on the counter is not a problem so long as it is in its own container to keep it from absorbing odors (fats are like sponges for odors, but that is also true in the frig and in the freezer....).

                                                        1. andytee Apr 4, 2007 04:02 PM

                                                          Butter Bell!

                                                          These things rock, at fridge hardness butter is unspreadable, and yes, it does go rancid on the counter after a while. If you eat it fast (within a week?) it should be ok on the counter, but the butter bell keeps it fresh pretty indefinitely (as it is removed from oxygen) and is soft and spreadable. I highly reccomend everyone own a butter bell.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: andytee
                                                            soupkitten Apr 4, 2007 04:40 PM

                                                            2nd the butter bells. they really are "ol' timey" gadgets that work, no matter the climate, season, salt/unsalt, unpasteurized artisan butter/supermarket special, whatever. just don't forget to change the water.

                                                          2. bitsubeats Apr 4, 2007 07:39 PM

                                                            I heard that if it's salted butter than it's fine to leave out at room temp.

                                                            I would leave it out if it was unsalted..but I keep it in the fridge so my boyfriend doesn't have a sh*t fit. I'm unsafe like that

                                                            1. Spoonula Apr 5, 2007 05:54 AM

                                                              I checked out several dairy websites and extension agents all say this :
                                                              "Butter should not be stored in the butter keeper (set at warmer temperatures) on the refrigerator door longer than two days." I'm doomed! I throw the box in the fridge when I get it - grab a stick and put it in my grandmothers glass butter dish (covered of course) and put it on the kitchen table. how on earth have I managed to live this long?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Spoonula
                                                                LindaWhit Apr 5, 2007 05:59 AM

                                                                how on earth have I managed to live this long?

                                                                Or how on earth have people across the world managed to live so long with butter kept out on the table? :-/

                                                                1. re: Spoonula
                                                                  Karl S Apr 5, 2007 06:02 AM

                                                                  It's a great demonstration of ignorance passing as knowledge.

                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                    ricepad Apr 5, 2007 07:55 AM

                                                                    Or of liability attorneys trumping reality.

                                                                    1. re: ricepad
                                                                      Spoonula Apr 5, 2007 09:46 AM

                                                                      I mean how on earth have any of us managed to live as long as we have with such "food rules"..... don't leave the butter out, don't eat mayo if it's been sitting out more than 15 minutes, don't eat raw eggs, don't eat and then go swimming, blah, blah, blah..... food's a crap shoot I tell ya!

                                                                2. amyzan Apr 6, 2007 04:04 PM

                                                                  I've kept butter on the counter before only to find my cat up there trying to figure out how to get to it. One time, she knocked it to the floor, in an effort to relish the dairy goodness. Luckily, I was within earshot.

                                                                  Most of the time, I keep it in the frig and take it out in the morning. By the time I get to breakfast it's soft enough to spread on warm toast, and I don't keep it out after that. So, I guess the refrigerator is the safest place in a house with a clever kitty.

                                                                  1. f
                                                                    foodandwellbeing Apr 7, 2007 08:46 PM

                                                                    I keep my butter in the fridge. You can try brands of soft spreadable butter that is ready to spread the moment you take it out of the fridge. Or if you love your brand of butter you can keep it in a butter box or dish on the counter, I don't think there can be anything wrong with that. Or you can take butter out of the fridge a little before use to soften up or soften it so you can use it.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: foodandwellbeing
                                                                      amyzan Apr 7, 2007 10:56 PM

                                                                      If any of the "soft butter" products on the market are unsalted and aren't greasy, I'd love to hear anyone's review. I've tried Country Crock and Land o Lakes, and they're both unbearably salty and greasy to my taste. I like the idea in concept...

                                                                    Show Hidden Posts