What a Crock

Norpro

It's a common dilemma we face in the morning: attempting to spread hard, refrigerated butter on toast or bagels can be unnecessarily maddening before the day's barely begun. If you belong to this club, you'll love L. Tremain's Butter Bell Crock, or similar crocks made by Norpro or Emile Henry. All are re-creations of French butter keepers, used in the 19th century before the age of refrigeration. Here's how they work: you place a small amount of cold water into the crock, spread a stick of softened butter on the inside of the bell-shaped lid, and place the lid atop the crock. The water creates an airtight seal, preserving the butter for up to a month.

You do need to change the water every three days, or more often if your kitchen is warm. (I don't use my butter crock in summer, when the butter softens up so much that it slides into the water.) If you rarely use butter, this might all seem like too much work, but if you do, it's well worth the effort. For more information, see this Food Network video on the L. Tremain website.