Saturday, November 1, 2008

The French Butter Keeper

Walking around Paris as the season changes can catch you off guard. Even with dappled sun, as the leaves fall, the temperature drops. My friends, Michelle and ML (ML is the world's best shopper!) and I tried to keep the cool weather at bay by window shopping. As we walked by a boulangerie, Michelle made a quick stop and brought out two steamy, crusty baguettes. Brilliant! Warm bread in chilly hands is the perfect hand warmer. The added bonus is that it tastes oh so good, but the disadvantage is that it disappears too quickly. We tore off handfuls as we meandered toward a second hand clothing store, lamenting that we should have gotten more. Oh well....dinner would be soon. If we were sitting down respectfully at a table, a good smearing of butter would have been ideal. The problem with buttering yummy, crusty bread is that the butter is too often cold and hard. Last week that issue was solved when I bought a French butter keeper. It is the answer to the dilemma of keeping butter at room temperature while preserving it.

The premise behind French butter keepers is simple. Butter at room temperature quickly turns rancid when exposed to oxygen, so chilling preserves it. Mainly what's needed is to keep air away from the butter. The butter keeper does the same thing, but in a slightly different way. It uses water to form a seal between the butter and the air, a similar process was used by the Ancient Romans while making wine. The keeper comes in two parts. The first is a small basin to hold the water and the second piece holds the butter suspended in the water. You fill the top up with butter, put water in the larger bottom container, and invert the top into the water. Butter is an oil and it won't mix with the water, and as long as it's not too hot, it will stay in

the top, surrounded by water. Voila! Now you can safely keep butter preserved at room temperature and ready to cover that warm, crusty baguette.

Written and photographed by Diane

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