A plate of food and a cup of coffee

An Ingenious Way to Keep Butter Soft and Fresh


Dear Mary: Several years ago, I visited a friend and was introduced to an item that allows you to keep butter out of the refrigerator and on the counter to be nice and soft and fresh until consumed.

The butter somehow stayed in a top container that was then suspended over a container of water. I don’t know the name of this thing nor where to buy one. I want to get one as a gift, however, I have never seen one since my visit. Can you tell me what it is? –Lyn, Pennsylvania

A plate of food and a cup of coffee, with Butter

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Dear Lyn: You are describing the Original Butter Bell Crock by L. Tremain. I have one and you are right to recall it as being quite ingenious.

Modeled after the original French butter crock, a Butter Bell keeps butter fresh and spreadable for up to 30 days without refrigeration; no odors or spoilage. Here’s how it works: You pack softened butter into the lid. Fill the base with cold water and place the lid upside down into the base. The unique design keeps butter soft and fresh using water as an insulator. The key is that you must change the water often, like every day or two at the most.

Other manufacturers have produced their own knock-off versions of the Butter Bell based on the same principal, some of which are cheaper, and I should add, to mixed reviews.

Dear Mary: While my gal pals were out shopping for clothes, you’d find me in Electrics, checking out the vacuum cleaners! An odd quirk, [my love for vacuum cleaners] has trailed behind me all these years.

In my lifetime, I have owned myriad vacs, always striving to find The One. Canisters, uprights, whathaveyou. I’ve had them all, but none hit the mark.

Then I read your column about the Shark Navigator and my ears actually came to a point. The “Aha moment!” in all its glory. My vac nose told me this is The One.

I collared my hubby, and drove, madly to Bed Bath and Beyond, clutching my 20 percent discount card and urging John to drive faster!

Long story short, I don’t even put the thing away! There it sits, proudly, grandly and just within reach.

Thanks for the info recommendation, and even if I discovered my Great White this late in life, I am still smiling. Very best regards. –Elsa, Minnesota

Dear Elsa:  I’m happy to know that you and your Shark are getting along so well. For the price, I just don’t think you can beat this vacuum. Now that I think about it I don’t think it can be beat at any price. I’m with you. It is The One!

Thanks for writing. Your letter made me smile.

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10 replies
  1. Kristiana says:

    I know its strange but I don’t mind cleaning the toilet! I’m not saying its my favorite thing to do in the day. But I would rather clean the toilet than cook dinner. I even have a picture of me doing it as a young young child. I guess its good to like something you’re going to have to do the rest of your life!

  2. vicki says:

    I agree with previous comment. The butter bell can be messy and your butter can get mold on it from the water. I gave my bell away once I discovered a butter boat. it’s much easier and holds a whole stick of butter. It has a mark showing the “fill to” line for water and the butter stays fresh. I only change my water about twice a week. had it for years and love it.

  3. Betty Thomas says:

    I love my butter bell and have used it for years and years. My grown daughter saw mine and was excited so I got her one as a gift. She immediately was disappointed because the butter was hard and after a week didn’t taste right. Mom solved the problem fairly quick, just add a little water. The water has to cover the bell to keep the butter preserved. LOVE IT!

  4. Miriam says:

    I wanted soft butter as well but I went a different route and one that makes my butter healthier to boot and I can keep it in the fridge. I think it was the Mayo Clinic who first put out this recipe but it’s been handed down many times. It’s called Better Butter and to make it you mix a pound of softened butter with 2 cups of Olive Oil with a mixer. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of butter but I don’t do that anymore. What you get is butter that can be kept in the fridge and is soft enough to spread within about 1 minute out of the fridge. I like the taste of it better than just ol’ plain butter. I’m going to try making it with different oils to see how that works. One pound of butter and the olive oil fills two large glass’n lock containers in my fridge.

  5. Danielle Williams says:

    We go through about a stick of butter a day as a family, so the butter is perfectly fine just sitting in a plain butter dish on the counter. All processed oils have been banned from our kitchen, which ups our butter consumption enough to make this method practical. I wouldn’t keep butter out without a butter bell for longer than a week, though, due to rancidity.

  6. DianaB says:

    I had a butter bell once (cost like $35) and decided it did not hold enough, maybe a stick, to make it all that practical, so got rid of it. What I do use is a crock with a lid that will hold at least a pound or more of margarine (yes, margarine–not butter). It stays on the counter all the time simply with the lid on top of it and I occasionally wipe it out and wash it clean it but not often. I just keep putting more margarine into it. The margarine is not ruined by heat or cold and is always room temp when I need it.

    Along the other line of my nutty things, I like to do dishes and laundry. There is something about them being all done up that is really satisfying, that along with a bed all made that makes the whole room look better.

  7. Linda says:

    I am familiar with the butter bell because I had one for years but was frustrated when, occasionally, the entire glob of butter would fall into the water when turned upside down. For me an even better find was the butter boat. It uses the same concept but instead of having the mess of spooning softened butter into the bell, you simply place a stick of butter in the elongated “boat.” It includes three porcelain pieces instead of two (the water dish, the boat that holds the stick of butter, and a lid). I have found the boat to be so much easier to use than the bell.

  8. mitomom says:

    I’m really glad you’re happy with the Shark. We bought one, too. My husband does our vacuuming (I grocery shop and cook). He doesn’t like it at all and keeps saying our old vacuum worked better. He finds it awkward, needs to empty the canister, doesn’t like having to take it off the base for certain tasks, etc. I am sorry to say he complains about it every Saturday. I like it for very quick cleanups, since we have 2 cats and it’s easy to get out of the closet! So I guess people need to take their individual quirks into account.

  9. Becky Walker Phillips says:

    Thanks for asking! I enjoy cooking. I try new recipes all the time. Facebook has had some really great ones going around lately. I even gathered a bunch of recipes that are tried and true for my family, and put them in a cookbook a few years ago. I sold the cookbooks for $25 a piece to help me pay for a class I desperately wanted to take. The course costs about $3000. I put together a ton of cookbooks, but it was worth it. Everyone was so willing to help me out. It was cool! I also don’t mind doing laundry. My husband thinks I’m lying when I say that. LOL! He can’t believe anyone wouldn’t mind doing laundry. I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal. There’s only 2 of us. I have maybe 5 loads. It’s nothing compared to when I had kids at home. Thanks for all your handy tips and great articles! Joyfully, Becky P. in Texas!


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