This year, my loved ones fueled my love of weird, obscure, vintage things through their choice of Christmas presents. Most of these aren’t interesting enough to write about (do you want to hear about the enormous vintage Hemingway insulator the boy gave me? No?) but maybe you’d like to read about my new butter bell.
Here is where a photo of my cherry-red butter bell would be a perfect illustration, but unfortunately it broke in transport from frozen tundra land (Minnesota) to green wet land (Seattle) so you will have to be satisfied by the official photo from the Williams Sonoma website. We won’t talk about how sad I was when it arrived broken, as I’m sure you don’t care AND also because I’m getting ahead of myself because I am guessing most people have no idea what a butter bell IS.
Do you hate it when your butter is cold and hard? Do you have trouble spreading cold butter on bread? Do you get frustrated with cold butter and leave it on the counter, only to have it go rancid? If you do, then the BUTTER BELL is perfect for you!
Hm. I think maybe infomercial humor doesn’t come across in text very well… let me try that again.
So, a butter bell is an bell-shaped crock and bowl used for keeping butter fresh at room temperature. The bell is filled with butter and the bowl is filled with fresh, cool water, and when the bell is inverted into the bowl, a seal is formed that prevents air and other contaminants from reaching the butter, keeping it fresh longer. Most butter is fine kept for a few days at room temperature, but by using a butter bell and frequently changing the water it can stay fresh for much longer. According to Williams Sonoma the French have been keeping their butter in butter bells since the Middle Ages.*
I first found out about butter bells from the blogger Vanessa “Green As a Thistle” Farquharson – a woman who unplugged her fridge, among other things, to make her life more green. And even though I’m trying to make small changes to make my own life more green, I was more excited about the butter bell because I grew up with butter in the cupboard instead of the fridge, but living by myself I can never use my butter up quick enough to allow me to do that. I’ve never mastered the art of applying cold butter to bread without ripping gigantic holes.**
Butter bells are available at kitchen retailers like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, but they’re also available on Etsy.
*Old, French, food-related, nerdy – check, check, check, check.
**Eco-friendly, solves problem of cold butter application, available on my favorite website – check, check, check.