We don’t eat a lot of butter or spread around our house, but we do eat some. Butter comes out of the refrigerator too hard to spread, and spread (which is arguably healthier for your heart) comes in tubs.
Some of the few plastic items we can’t recycle at our municipal recycling are yogurt tubs … and spread tubs.
I’ve mostly done away with the yogurt tubs by making our own yogurt (or skipping it because I like fruit in it, and it’s winter, so we don’t have a lot of fruit).
To do away with the spread tubs, I dug deep into the back of my china closet and pulled out our old butter bell.
(I like how our version is the spokesmodel on the official site! No longer true.) You can buy one from these guys, or you can often find similar models at pottery shows or kitchen shops — the company trademarked the name, but it’s an old idea.
Anyway, you soften a stick of butter and pack it into the lid of the butter bell. Then you put cool water in the base, and when you flip the lid over, the water seals out air and germs and keeps the butter cool, but soft enough to spread.
Butter doesn’t go bad very fast — fat is a preservative when it is kept clean, and in a kitchen like mine, which averages about 58 degrees in the winter, it should stay good for a while. If you sense a problem, you can confirm any baddies in the butter with an “off” or rancid taste or, of course, that telltale pink dairy-product mold. (And then, obviously, don’t eat it.)
Meanwhile, bell it and enjoy it.
Updated Sept. 2, 2008, to correct link information.