French Butter Dish, Things to
know and frequently asked questions.
(some of this is also true for
the manufactured bell butter
For a complete history of the French butter dish see Wikipedia and Google answer page
How does the French
Butter Dish work?:
Why does the butter stay in the French Butter Dish lid?
What is that hole in the lid?
How much water and how often do I need to change it?
When should I pack the butter into the lid?
I Think I have mold in my butter
My butter is falling into the base, why?
What is the difference between Porcelain and Stoneware?
The unique design of the French Butter Dish
keeps butter at the perfect spreading consistency. The water creates
an airtight seal that keeps oxygen away from the butter (oxygen is what turns butter rancid). In the bell
shaped lid your butter will stay soft and fresh!
When you want to serve the butter, the top part rests securely on the table. To use a French Butter Dish, "pack" 1/4 to 1/2 pound of butter into its bell or cone-shaped lid, then put water into the base so that it is about 1/3 full (use salted water for unsalted or low-salt butter). When the inverted bell shaped lid is on, a seal is created that keeps oxygen away from the butter. Your Butter will stay soft and fresh! When you want to serve the butter, the top part rests securely on the table.
The butter is held in by the surface tension. That is why the butter needs to be packed into the lid. The smaller the dish the more surface there is to create tension. Larger hand made dishes (like mine) have a cone shaped lid to hold the butter in even better (opposite to the open bell shape of the manufactured butter dishes). I have found that 1/2lb of butter is about the limit for French Butter Dishes
The small hole in the side of the lid allows the water to stay close to the butter. Some dairy farmers kept their butter completely submerged in water in their spring house to keep it fresh. I have been asked to make butter dishes (special ordered) with three holes so that water will always be in contact with the butter. Also, the hole keeps the butter from being suctioned out when the lid is pulled out of the water. This is not true for all French Butter Dishes, especially the smaller bell type of manufactured dishes. (butter bell)
should at least cover the little hole in the cone.
Water should be as close to or touching the butter
The water should be changed at least once a week.
Do you pack the butter into the crock right out of the refrigerator, or do you wait until the butter reaches room temperature? Also, is there a problem with water getting into the butter, thus onto the bread, etc.?Let the butter warm up a little before packing it in to the lid, but not so long that it is completely soft. Sometime, if I do not have the time to wait, I'll pack it in right out of the refrigerator. Water and butter (oil) will not mix so there is no problem with water getting into the butter.
A long time ago a customer bought two butter dishes, one as a present for his sister and one for his himself. He wrote, asking me about mold in his butter dish. He then asked his sister if she had the same problem. She did not, but she was using a different brand of butter. He switched to her brand and the problem went away. I have talked with a woman from the Alsace region in France. She told me her family always added salt to the water in their butter dishes. It came to me that the salt in the butter keeps the mold away. I ran an experiment with two butter dishes using unsalted butter. I put salt in the water of one and not in the other. There was no mold in the butter dish with salted water! There was mold in the other dish! I now always put salt in the water, even with salted butter. So low salt and unsalted butter is causing this problem.
A process of evaporation takes place through the pottery (helping to keep the inside slightly cooler). This happens more with some glazes then others, and if adding too much salt it may precipitate to the outside leaving a floury powder.Also, French butter dish user Julie sent this in: I find that if you aren't careful to keep bread particles out of the butter (kids!), you get mold.
The butter in my French butter dish started falling into the base, is there something wrong? When the temperature approaches 90' F the butter will become to soft to stay in the lid. If you do not have air conditioning you will need to put the butter dish in the refrigerator or add ice to the water in the base.
Butter mixtures like "Land of Lakes spreadable" have margarine blended into the butter. This makes the butter to oily to stay in the lid. Only pure butter will work in a French Butter Dish. (butter bell)
Stoneware is a little stronger then porcelain but that is only relevant if the pottery is used for cooking. Porcelain is a finer clay body with less impurities then stoneware. The porcelain clay body I use is white when fired and therefore the glazes can be more vibrant and colorful.
I use two stoneware clays, a buff white and a high iron red. I use the high iron red for the stony gray (I also sometimes us it for copper red and the odd one of a kind piece. The iron bleeds through the glaze to its surface for the stony effect. I use the same glaze over the buff white stoneware for the stony white butter dishes. To sum it up: the stoneware clay is for earthy colors, the porcelain for brighter and shinier colors.
There are numerous manufactured versions of the French Butter Dish that use copyrighted names like the "Butter Bell". The difference is that manufactured versions can not create a cone shaped lid like our hand made butter dishes therefore they must be smaller or the butter will fall out.
Is the French butter dish dishwasher safe?
Yes, it is dishwasher safe
The French Butter Dish works best when real butter is used. Margarine does not have a spreadability problem and is "oilier" then butter so will not stay in the lid very easily. Do not store other processed spreads for any length of time . Processed spreads like cream cheese need refrigeration to stay fresh for extended periods of time. You can use a French Butter Dish for special spreads if you do not plan to store it for long. For example use a French Butter Dish as a serving piece at an evening dinner party for a special dip or spread that you create.
It also works for Coconut oil.
We will refund or exchange any pottery if returned within 30 days for a full refund/exchange. Will cancel any order if contacted before shipped (we usually ship the same day any order comes in). If item has been shipped customer may refuse to accept the package and when it returns we will issue a refund.