It seemed it wasn’t only I who had gone through the anguish of hard, refrigerated butter ripping through my toast. I got a few, but quite earnest, questions about the French butter bell that I showed in my last post. How does it work? Can it really keep butter soft and spreadable without refrigeration for a month? Will it work in Manila?

First time I saw a butter bell, I couldn’t even imagine what it was for. It had two parts: a little pot and an inverted cup that also served as a lid. The design made even less sense when I was told it was for storing butter. The crock was supposed to hold the water and the cup, the packed-in butter. And that’s all there was to it!

Flashback to a typical breakfast scene: Rama exasperated at the hard lumps of butter that refused to budge and spread on her toast; Poch and I glancing at our mangled toast in the oven, the butter seeping through its cracks.

The thought of another unpleasant morning involving butter and toast did it. We went ahead and bought the Le Creuset Butter Crock.

Yes, life-changing!

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Despite some negative reviews and not-too-great experiences written about the butter crock, we have been quite happy with ours. Maybe there are some things we do right:

1. Take butter – about one stick – out of the refrigerator and leave until just soft and easy to slice with a butter knife.

2. Fill the bell with butter up to about 1 cm from the rim; make sure it’s packed in. Fill the crock with 1/2-3/4 inch of water (Le Creuset has a “fill line” mark).

2. Do not top up old butter with fresh butter. Wait till butter in the bell is finished, then wash both bell and crock thoroughly. When completely dry, refill with butter. Change the water regularly.

3. Use clean butter knives.

4. Keep where temperature is at 80F (27C) or lower.

Other names for this late 19th century French-designed crock are: “French butter keeper”, “French butter crock”, “Butter Crock”, :Beurrier à l’eau”, “Beurrier Breton”, “Beurrier Normand”, “Cloche de beurre”, and “Pot à beurre Breton (French) Butterdose(German)”. Two manufactured versions are the Norpro Butter Keeper and the Butter Bell (a registered trademark of L. Tremain,Inc).
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