Butter is a sponge that will soak up the scents and smells of its environment–fast. And unless you want your next batch of cookies or holiday butter cake to taste like last week’s pizza, it’s time to listen up. Learn how to store butter so that it stays fresh longer and everything you bake tastes just like it should.
What’s in your refrigerator right now? Is there an onion in there? Maybe some leftover pizza? Those are obvious smell offenders. But the truth is, you don’t need to have a fridge filled with stinky or strong foods to do some serious damage to everything else around it–especially dairy products like butter. Let it sit too long unprotected on the shelf, and your next batch of cookies could end up tasting like the muddled, musty odd flavor of refrigerator air.
I’m telling you this because I’ve actually had it happen more than once. I’ll grocery shop and drop my box of butter in the fridge, using it slowly over a week or two. Just like you do. And maybe you’ve been lucky enough not to notice that your butter doesn’t taste like fresh cream anymore–that’s probably because you have been covering up the problem with other flavors in your food.
In other words, you’ve been skating by.
But get a whim for a piece of buttered toast, make some shortbread cookies or grandma’s pound cake and you’re gonna notice it all too quickly.
Something is wrong. Something is doggone gross and even though you’ve made the recipe perfectly, the flavor is ruined because your star ingredient failed on flavor.
What if I don’t use butter?
Oh you’re not in the clear either margarine and tub people. We won’t turn this in to a debate about why you should use one over the other (even though that stuff in the tub is mildly unreliable to bake with) just know that margarine soaks up smells in exactly the same way. And the tubbed “butter” isn’t as air tight as you would like so while it may do it more slowly, your Country Crock is at risk too.
So how long will my butter last naked in the fridge?
By naked I mean in the wrappers, in the box. That’s naked by butter standards. You can expect your butter to be safe for two to three days max before it starts to soak up the smells. That’s not very long.
How to store butter, better
The answer to this whole problem is simple. Keep the air away from your butter. But there’s a catch: not every plastic container in your junk drawer is right for the job. Warped plastic, crooked lids and your best intentions will fall flat if you don’t have the right tool for the job. A small, one-time investment in a good butter container will keep it lasting longer, tasting great and save your ego from ruining your next recipe. You need a plastic container with locking sides and a rubber gasket to keep out the air. I only use Lock and Lock containers and they’ve never failed me.
Well what about my baking soda box? Doesn’t that do enough?
No. It just doesn’t. It would be humanly impossible to cram a cold box full of food and expect the air inside to stay totally smell-neutral. And while a box of baking soda does help absorb odors, it won’t keep the air spotless for your butter.
It’s simple tips like these that add up to big changes in the way you cook. So head to the kitchen with your mission–never let your butter be naked again.