Butter Up Your Kitchen: Unveiling the Magic of the French Butter Dish

Butter Up Your Kitchen: Unveiling the Magic of the French Butter Dish

Inspiration from Julie and Julia

Once, like many, I liked the movie “Julie and Julia” about the life of chef Julia Child in the early years of her culinary career with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child's cookbook in 365 days. It was interesting to learn fun facts about French cuisine. And what is the main and absolutely indispensable component of French cuisine? Of course butter.

And that’s exactly why they invented a French butter dish (also known as butter bell) as the most perfect butter storage of all time!

Do you know the old saying - a shoemaker without shoes? I always dream a lot about making a perfect set of ceramic dishes for myself, but most of the time only dishes with little imperfections end up in the kitchen. 

Some while ago I tried to make a French butter dish in my ceramic studio, so I took one to my kitchen as well - to try and test it. And, oh boy, I fell in love with it!

Butter dishes

What I’m most excited about is that before trying the French butter dish the butter on the toast ended up in small chunks, but now the butter is soft and can be spread freely. And it also looks beautiful on the kitchen counter.

I also tried experimenting with spices, making spiced butter with herbs - yummm... 🙂 I will only mention that if you add salt to make seasoned butter, you will probably have to keep the container in the refrigerator because the salt makes the butter soft and it slides out of the container.

History of this unique butter dish

The French butter dish design is thought to have originated in Vallauris, France. Vallauris is known for its pottery crafts. Others speculate that it was created in Brittany or Normandy—both known for their butter production.

A French butter dish is a container used to maintain the freshness and spreadable consistency of butter without refrigeration. This late 19th-century French-designed pottery crock has two parts: a base that holds water, and a cup to hold the packed butter which also serves as a lid. Water creates an airtight seal that keeps the air away from the butter so that refrigeration is not needed, and the butter can be used in its soft form. This method will keep butter for around a month provided it is kept at temperatures below 80 °F (27 °C) and the water is changed regularly (at least once a week).

How to use a French butter dish?

Here is a simple guide to how to use my French butter dish:

  1. Ensure that your butter is softened before using the French butter dish. Take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until it becomes soft and easily spreadable.

  1. Clean the French butter dish thoroughly before use. Make sure it's dry.

  1. Pack the lid of the butter dish with softened butter. You can use a butter knife or spatula to fill it, ensuring there are no air pockets.

  1. Pour a small amount of cold water into the base of the dish. Turn the butter-filled lid upside down and carefully place it into the base, submerging it in the water. The water creates a seal, keeping the butter fresh.

  1. Place the entire dish in a cool, shaded area at room temperature. The water creates a barrier that protects the butter from both air and heat, keeping it soft and spreadable. Change the water in the base every 2-3 days, especially during warmer weather, to ensure freshness and prevent any potential bacterial growth.

My recipe for butter with herbs

I tried to make some seasoned butter too.

I kept the butter at room temperature for a while, so that it became soft and nice. I added fresh chopped dill and parsley and a little bit of sea salt to the butter in a bowl, mixed it and filled it in a dish! Easy, but so delicious. You can also try the same method with smoked paprika seasoning or other herbs from your garden.

Trust me, the sandwiches will be tastier, but if you make your own bread - oh heaven!

I still want to try butter with garlic…  I will let you know how it turned out.

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