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How to store butter (so you don’t ruin your recipes)

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. 

This one mistake could ruin your next baking project. Even if you do everything else right. Learn how to store butter so your cookies don't taste like the fridge.

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.

This one mistake could ruin your next baking project. Even if you do everything else right. Learn how to store butter so your cookies don't taste like the fridge.

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.

My favorite container:

Get this Lock&Lock on Amazon.

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.

This one mistake can ruin your next baking project. Learn how to store butter so your cookies don't taste like leftover pizza.

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Ariana

Thursday 4th of March 2021

not seeing the recommendation for the storage. Comments are mentioning the lock and locks but I cannot see it above. Thanks

Rachel Ballard

Sunday 7th of March 2021

There was a little technical glitch but it's there now!

Amber

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Costco had some cheaper storage that seem to work just like the lock & locks. They have the hinges and a silicone sealing lid. We bought a set and I believe they were less than a dollar per container. My husband thinks he's the "butter expert" and said that the weird flavors go away when exposed to heat. But I made icing fro a bundt cake my daughter and I made, and it had such an off taste. It doesnt taste like a particular food, but it just tastes bad, which ruins the over all experience. That bundt cake tastes fine, but the icing is yuck. He also buys way too much for the amount we use. I dont know why he wants to hoard butter. But anyway, I will make sure to store the butter in containers now. =/

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Butter's nasty flavors it picks up most certainly aren't fixed by heating it. Keep that stuff in a container girl and you'll be much happier! --Rachel

DOLORES WILSON

Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Rachel. I buy butter when it is on a good sale and freeze it. Looking at your recommendation for the Lock containers, I wondered if we should unbox the butter and put the sticks into the containers and freeze?

Rachel Ballard

Friday 14th of December 2018

Hey Dolores,

I would for sure! Dairy absorbs flavors so readily whether in the fridge or the freezer so I'd do my best to protect that. Any kind of air tight container will work but I do LOVE Lock & Locks!! --Rachel