It’s not a question most folks ask themselves very often, if at all. In fact most of us, when we grow up and go out on our own, just go on handling our Butter the way our folks did when we were kids. But, when other folks comment on our Butter culture, it sparks debates that sometimes become heated…
I remember, when I was little, that the big piece of Butter always stayed in the fridge and the little piece stayed out on the counter. The little piece was always covered by an inverted cereal bowl or something like that. I thought that was to keep the cat from licking it. But it there’s an actual food safety reason for covering room-temperature Butter. We’ll get to that in a minute.
There is a deep chasm between the Refrigerators and the Non-Refrigerators in Butterland. Some folks insist it isn’t safe to leave Butter out while others insist it doesn’t matter. Each side has evidence to support its position. But I can personally attest that I always ate room-temperature butter on my Toast and my lunchtime Sandwiches were always made with it and we always dolloped a blob of it on our Pancakes or Waffles on Sunday mornings, when I was a kids. The simple, bitter truth, Refrigerator supporters, is that you can’t spread cold Butter. And my chronic exposure to warm Butter never did me a lick of harm, as far as I can tell.
The whys and wherefores…
Butter is mainly fat and, so, is naturally resistant to bacterial invasion – to a point. Salted Butter is even more resistant to bacterial multiplication, since Salt is a natural preservative. Unsalted Butter is used mainly for Baking and is often brought to from temperature just before using. Refrigerator advocates take note: You can’t blend or whip Cold butter into batters or doughs.
Cover any butter that’s left out not only to keep the cat away, but to minimize air contact, which is another factor in spoilage.
Nevertheless… It seems that folks like me are in the mainstream on the Butter issue. Leave out only what you’ll use in the coming day or two and keep your butter wrapped in the fridge to minimize air contact.
One more thing…
You can keep Butter for a few weeks in a cold fridge – just above the freezing point, which is where most family fridges are set. You can also freeze Butter for even longer periods with no discernible damage or deterioration. Unsalted will last for 6 months in the freezer while Salted can be frozen for up to 9 months. Just use it fairly quickly after thawing to be on the safe side. So go out ahead and pick up a whole pile of pounds next time Butter is on special at your fave supermarket. Put most of it in the fridge and/or freezer and bring it out a pound at a time the night before you want to use it.
~ Maggie J.