…has always been something of a problem for me.
For several years I grumped along on the cheapest margarin, on the assumption that most would be thrown away in summer when it melted into vegetable oil and promptly went rancid. A visit to the city in early 2017 reminded me of what I was missing, taste-wise, and an experiment demonstrated to my surprise that butter actually keeps in the summer heat better than margarine does. Still, it can go rancid and grow mold before you can use up your supply, which is a problem for a refrigeration-challenged desert hermit. I hate waste – I especially hate wasted luxuries.
Aware of the issue, Landlady gave me a gift a couple of months ago. I admit that at first it perplexed me…
According to my vast, exhaustive research the French butter dish is an idea that’s been around for over a century, in rural France, but it only became a commercial product fairly recently – which may explain why I’d never heard of such a thing.
Dealing with it in February or early March I had trouble getting it to work at first. You’re supposed to load it with softened butter, which commodity is not that easy to achieve in winter. I can melt butter, obviously, but convincing an entire stick to assume an even soft consistency was difficult so I just tried cutting a not-rock-hard stick into little pieces and smooshing the pieces into the cup. Turned upside-down, the cup promptly plopped the lumpy ball of butter onto the counter. When the instructions (yes of course there are YouTube videos, don’t be ridiculous) call for softened butter, they really mean that. A softened stick smashed into the cup really will adhere to the sides and stay inside when you invert it.
And in theory, that inch of water on the bottom of the little crock forms a seal around the outside of the cup, helping preserve the butter longer in the summer heat. We’re going to test that in a couple of months, but at present I’m already sure that a: it can’t help but be a preservation improvement over a little plastic tub, and b: in all weathers it really is a lot easier to use than a little plastic tub.
Low-tech solutions to low-tech problems! I love it.