I’ve been scouring the internets to find the perfect picture of Kenny Loggins for this post ‘cause I have been living in the Danger Zone for weeks. Why? Butter baby. On the table. Not the fridge.
That’s right! And I’m not sorry!
Brian gave me a gorgeous tangerine-colored Fiestaware butter dish for Christmas, and I just couldn’t bear hiding it in the fridge. I considered leaving it empty on the table, purely for decorative purposes, but a butterless butter dish struck me as unseemly. I could just picture an unwitting dinner guest happily lifting the lid, expecting to find pleasantly soft butter, and ta-da! Empty. Fooled you, sucker.
I’ll be having none of that, thanks. I have memories of butter always just being out on the counter at the houses of older people when I was a kid, and no one ever seemed to die from butter-borne diseases.
So I did a little searching online and found many, many enlightening things. Basically all chefs agree that storing covered butter at room temperature is totally OK. (The stiffs at the USDA say it should be stored in the freezer. Puh-leaze)
Here’s the thing: The butter I buy is made from pasteurized milk and it’s salted, making it pretty inhospitable to germs. When butter goes bad it’s because of rancidity (which can happen with any high-fat foods, including cooking oils). Rancidity is evident when butter smells and tastes icky, and this happens after about 10 days on the counter. But we are butter people in this house, and tear through sticks with wild abandon. The idea that one would last 10 days is just cray.
So I’ve been leaving the butter out, and the result is easy spread-ability for bread and butter and easy whipping for baked goods. Come summer, I will store my butter in the fridge, for sure. Soft butter is one thing. Melted, mushy butter is quite another. But in the winter, when I’m freezing my arse off inside my house, I’m thinking the butter is OK in its pretty little dish on the table. (For friends of mine who are reading this and silently swearing that they'll never use the danger-zone butter at my house again, fear not: I also keep some in the fridge for the table-butter averse.)
So. I’m riding the highway to the danger zone. And it’s paved in room-temperature butter.