Sticks of butter from the fridge have always been difficult for me to cut and spread, but since I developed arthritis, using refrigerated sticks of butter is no longer an option. For years, I switched to whipped butter from Chiffon. When I couldn't find that at my local store any more, I began using Spreadable Butter from LandOLakes. Whipped or spreadable butters are much easier to spread than cold sticks, but still difficult for me unless I let them sit out at room temperature first. I usually don't want to wait for them to soften, and sometimes I set it out and forget it which ruins the butter. Still, Spreadable Butter was the best solution I'd found until . . .
I spotted an article on the Butter Bell, made by the L Tremain company. This piece of crockery is designed to store butter on the kitchen counter (no refrigeration) for up to 30 days!
In the 1600s, French Chefs had no refrigeration, so they developed a crock in which they could store butter. It wasn't until the 1800s that they began to use water with these crocks to create an airtight seal which not only kept the butter safe to use but also kept odors from being absorbed. This kitchen tool was discarded in the 1900s in favor of the newly- invented refrigerator. But in 1996, the L. Tremain company brought the old design up-to-date and began offering the version they sell today.The double-layer of crockery insulates and cools the butter, and the airtight seal of water protects flavor and freshness.
Could this be true? Spreadable butter at my fingertips, whenever I wanted it? I wondered if this kitchen aid would work. So I ordered one.
My Butter Bell Arrives
The Butter Bell arrived and it was packed so well that, honestly, my first reaction was "I could send these as gifts and not worry about them arriving broken". Cardboard and styrofoam were used and, as an environmentalist, I do have a problem with styrofoam. But still, when ordering direct-ship Christmas presents, I don't want to order anything that might arrive in pieces.
So, I washed the Butter Bell and followed the instructions:
To use, let one stick of butter soften, spoon into bell-shaped crockery, leaving no air pockets. Pack firmly. (As I put the butter into the bell I used the back of a spoon to mash out air pockets.) Pour 1/3 cup very cold water into the base of the Butter Bell. Place the bell-shaped portion into the base, butter side down. The cold water in the base creates an airtight seal. Store on counter away from sunlight or heat. To use, lift the bell by the handle, spread, then replace the bell.
The cold water should be replaced every 3 days. Butter should keep up to 30 days. I consume this amount of butter in less than 30 days, but if you don't you might want to replace what's there after 30 days. Of course, wash the Butter Bell thoroughly between uses in the dishwasher or by hand.
Results: Exactly as Advertised
Don't you love it when something works exactly as it is advertised?! The butter stayed fresh and did not absorb any odors (which it DOES in the fridge), and was soft without any trace of being runny or melted. I LOVE IT! I can spread a light layer of butter evenly on toast, potatoes, or anything I want. Because the Butter Bell butter is already soft, it starts melting immediately upon contact with hot foods.
Small Irritations Against Arthritis Can Add Up, So Are Best Avoided
I know that soft butter may sound like a small issue, but I love evenly buttered toast. When I cannot have buttered toast in the morning because my arthritic hands are hurting, it introduces a bit of resentment into my day right from the start. That's not helpful. Removing these small, chronic opportunities for resentment against the arthritis adds up to a happier, more peacefull attitude over time.
Tip for Lifting Bell
The Butter Bell has a knob-type lid to lift the bell. But with my arthritis, I find that I can hold it more securely, with no risk of slipping fingers into the butter, If I slip the lid slightly off-center and wrap my 3rd, 4th, and pinky fingers to the underside of the lid as I pick it up. (See photos).
Quality Product Goes Beyond the Call of Duty
Because the "bell" part of the Butter Bell sits upside down, I was interested to find out if the butter would tend to fall out. I had pressed out air pockets when putting the butter in the bell to give it the best chance to stay put.
Not only was there no "falling out" during normal usage, but the butter stayed put in conditions far beyond my expectations!
As I was moving the Butter Bell outside to take these photos in natural light, a wasp stung a finger on the hand that was carrying it. The Butter Bell went flying. The base landed several feet away from me on a wooden deck and the bell with the butter bounced over the edge of the deck then landed in the yard. I am happy to report that the butter (as you see in the photo, sorry for the shadow) was still in the bell and neither the base nor the bell were broken, cracked, nor had they suffered damage to the finish. I am extremely impressed with the quality of this product and I'm thankful to be able to use butter without pain.