Growing up in the Midwest, I learned my cooking philosophy from my grandmother and her apron that read “There’s no such thing as too much butter.” There aren’t many recipes in the family recipe box that don’t call for at least a tablespoon or two, so we always keep plenty of butter in the kitchen. But, what’s the proper way to store it?
Of course, most of the butter in the house is kept in the refrigerator. But we always keep a stick on the counter at room temperature for morning bagels or toast. And this got me thinking–is it safe to store butter on the counter?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), butter and margarine are safe at room temperature. However, there is one thing you should never do if you are storing your butter on the kitchen counter.
There Is A Time Limit
When storing butter on the counter at room temperature, you should never leave it there for more than a day or two. If it’s left out for several days, the flavor can turn rancid. Because of this, the USDA says to only leave out an amount that can be used quickly. They also note that salted butter will stay fresher longer than unsalted, so keep that in mind.
When it comes to margarine tubs, those can separate into oil or water when left out at room temperature. The good news is that it’s still safe to eat. But if possible, it’s best to keep margarine tubs in the fridge.
How To Store Butter On The Counter
When storing butter on the kitchen counter, you should have the proper equipment to help keep the flavor as fresh as possible. Two popular options include butter dishes with a well-fitting lid and the classic butter crock.
Butter dishes have come a long way since your grandma’s kitchen. Today’s options include secure lids fitted with silicone to provide a tight seal, locking in freshness. This classic butter dish, which is available in five colors, is large enough to store two standard sticks of butter or wider varieties such as Kerrygold. As a bonus, a handy butter knife is stored securely in the lid.
The cult classic Butter Crock from Butter Bell has become a kitchen icon for good reason. Thanks to its unique design, a base layer of water in the crock protects the exposed bit of butter, creating an airtight seal. The water also helps to insulate the ceramic crock, reflecting outside heat than can cause the butter to go rancid quicker.
If you always want melt-in-your-mouth butter at the ready on your kitchen counter, choose a salted kind so it will stay fresh longer. It’s also best to store it in a dish with a well-fitting lid or a butter crock. If you’re ever in doubt, you can’t go wrong with keeping your butter in the fridge.