Many people are curious as to how the butter crock works, and a few wonder about their history. I thought I would do a little treatise on these useful little pots, since I am taking orders for them for the next 10 days or so (scroll down for more information).
Some sources say the french butter dish/crock/bell/keeper has been around for centuries. Other sources state that although people have been preserving butter in salted water since the Middle Ages, special pots designed for the purpose only came into use in the 19th century. Most sources agree that they originated in France, however; particularly the Brittany and Normandy regions. They may have only come into use in the United States as recently as 40-50 years ago.
While most instructions say to use fresh water, the butter does seem to keep for a longer period when salted water is used in the crock. And how, exactly, is it used? The crock consists of a cover with a wide tube or upside-down bowl attached to the underside- the part that goes into the outer jar. You put a small amount of water in the outer jar- just enough so that when the lid is replaced, the wide tube touches the water. The upside down bowl or tube attached to the lid is where the butter goes. It is packed into the cavity while soft. When the butter is not being used, the lid is replaced, and the butter remains in the upside down recession and is sealed off from the air by the water in the bottom part of the crock.
The design of this pot works by:
- keeping the butter away from air… or air away from the butter, preventing contamination or “off” flavors.
- using cool water to keep the butter at the perfect temperature- cool, but soft enough to spread.
Here are some interesting notes on the preservation of butter before the advent of the butter crock:
“During the Middle Ages butter was wrapped in sorrel leaves and immersed in earthenware pots filled with salt water. The reason was to keep the butter fresh tasting and the sorrel would impart its sour lemony flavour to the overall taste.” http://www.burnslake.net/herbgardens/tips/
America, 19th century: “To keep butter sweet a year: Take care that the butter is made in the best manner, and the butter-milk entirely worked out of it. Lay it in a white-oak firkin. Make a strong brine of salt and water, and put it into another and larger firkin, and set the one containing the butter into the one in which the brine is. Let the brine come up very near to the top of the butter firkin. Lay on the top of the butter a white bag with fine salt in it, cover it close, and then put on the cover of the outside firkin.” http://www.geocities.com/Nashville/6000/butter.html
If you would like to order a butter crock, here is the information:
Orders taken until August 13th, 2012 @ 10 EST (you must fill out the form mentioned below)
Payments due by August 15th, 2012, 10pm EST by paypal.
There are no limits to how many each person can order, so feel free to go hog wild. Minimum has been reached.
The form to order butter crocks is located here- PLEASE put in the comments section that you wish to be notified by email for payments and announcements if you are not able to check status on the RSE Facebook page or at the Cloth Diaper Nation forum :
If you need to make an adjustment to your order, please let me know (June AT Risingsunearthworks DOT com) and I will change it for you. Due to the fact that there is sensitive personal information being requested, the spreadsheet will not be available for public viewing.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!