Say Goodbye to Cold Butter Tearing Bread
One of my favorite aromas in a kitchen is freshly baked bread. When sliced fresh while the bread is still warm, slices of butter melt with ease. However, once that bread cools, cold butter can tear apart slices of bread. There are a few tricks to warm the bread or butter including microwaving, but one option is to leave the butter out on a counter. You may be shocked to learn that butter can be stored short-term at room temperature despite being a dairy product. If you’re wondering how it’s possible butter can stay out at room temperature, it’s all about the fat content.
For most dairy products, including milk and soft cheeses, the water content is too high to be left unrefrigerated. Bacteria can grow if milk is left at room temperature for two hours or soft cheeses for four hours. On the other hand, butter contains 80% fat, making it a more challenging environment for bacteria to grow in. Before you start leaving out sticks of butter on your counters, there are a couple of things worth noting. Most important is the type of butter that can be left out.
Can All Butter Be Left at Room Temperature?
If a recipe calls for softened butter, both salted and unsalted butter can be left out for an hour or two to bring it to room temperature. To keep butter at room temperature for longer, it needs to be salted butter. While both salted and unsalted butter has a high-fat content and prevents bacteria growth, the added salt in salted butter lowers the chance of bacteria growth even further.
When cooking or baking with salted butter with sodium intake in mind, you can cut back on any salt added to the recipe to reduce the total sodium.
How to Store Your Butter at Room Temperature
While choosing the butter type is essential to reduce the risk of spoilage, what you store your butter at room temperature extends its life. There are quite a few products on the market made explicitly for butter storage, but not all are ideal designs for storage at room temperature. The perfect container will create an air-tight seal and block light. If using a butter dish or a container your butter fits in, don’t use clear glass or plastic. Using a clear container allows light to pass through. Instead, I recommend a ceramic butter dish with a lid that has an air-tight seal. Another option is to use a butter crock.
What Is a Butter Crock?
Butter crocks are storage vessels created for keeping butter at room temperature. More often than not, they are crafted out of ceramic and include two pieces. The lid has a bell-shaped attachment on the underside of the top that suspends inside the base. Softened butter fills the bell, and the bottom holds chilled water.
When the lid is on, the bell disperses the water and does not touch the butter. The water creates a chilled, air-tight environment for the butter to stay fresh. I do recommend changing the water either every day or every other day if using a crock.
How Long Can Butter Last Out of the Fridge?
How long your unsalted butter stays fresh will all depend on the variables of how it’s stored. Airtight and light-blocking containers will help extend the life. Keeping your butter at lower temperatures will also extend the freshness instead of warmer, more humid climates. In ideal conditions, your butter can last up to 10 days. It isn’t a guarantee, though, and some things will alert you of spoilage.
The first indicator you will most likely notice that your butter has started to spoil is the smell of it. Fresh butter doesn’t give off any aroma. If your butter begins to have a scent, it’s close to spoiling. When it starts to smell sour, it has reached the spoiling stage. Stick to the motto of when in doubt, throw it out. The second indicator of butter having spoiled is if it tastes different or even possibly greasy. If you notice any difference in the taste or smell, discard your butter to be safe.
Keep Small Amounts of Butter at Room Temperature
In the beginning stages of keeping butter at room temperature, I advise keeping less than you think you will need for five days. It’s a time frame that most ceramic containers can keep butter in safely if kept in mild temperatures before spoiling. If you find that are you are having butter leftover on the fifth day, remove less butter from refrigeration. Try adding more butter when filling a crock if you run out of butter by day three or four.
No matter the amount of butter removed, or the container you use, always use salted butter. Remember the keep the butter away from heat, light, and air. If you start noticing your butter has a smell, play it safe and throw it away. If you already store butter at room temperature, do you have a favorite butter dish or crock?
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