We all have different preferences when it comes to our butter: Some people like to store it in their refrigerators, while others like to leave it out on the counter since they claim that it’s more spreadable. But if you’re in the latter category, you might be wondering: Do you need to leave it in a covered butter dish, or can it just sit out on a plate for a while?
Believe it or not, that specialized contraption serves an important purpose, especially if you don’t want that butter going bad and stinking up your kitchen in a matter of days. Butter dishes aren’t just there to look pretty; it turns out they also do important work protecting your butter from the elements, which in turns freshens up its contents.
As we all know by now, dairy products are typically refrigerated to extend their shelf lives and keep them fresh for longer periods of time, anywhere from one to three months. When your butter is just sitting on your counter on its own, it’s exposed to light and heat that can accelerate its expiration date by making the environment hotter. A butter dish is able to keep both elements away from it, as opposed to it you just wrapped it in something like wax paper or let it sit by itself.
But even with the world’s best butter dish, you only want to leave your butter there for an extra day or two at a time. Some people report that you can leave a stick out for up to two weeks with the right covering, but use your own judgment on that one. Keeping your butter in the fridge seems like the safest bet for freshness, but if you love a little more spreadability, just take those precautions with room-temperature ingredients.
If your butter starts to smell or taste a little sour, it’s time to chuck it. Instead, decide in advance how much butter you consume every couple of days and only leave that much out at room temperature for any given period. It’s worth it for a creamier consistency!