I blame Julie from Towards Sustainability and Em from Dance of Small Things for this indulgence. I had never heard of such a thing before they both posted about them. A butter bell, or french butter dish, designed to keep butter in an air tight, oxygen free environment by hanging it in a water bath thereby eliminating rancidity but still maintaining room temperature as it needs no refridgeration. Wikipedia says
This 19th century French-designed pottery crock has two parts: a base with a hollow cylinder attached to it, and a cup that also serves as a lid. The cup holds the packed in butter, and the base holds water. The water creates an airtight seal that keeps oxygen 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 80F (27C).The online literature says its traditionally French but my francophile husband reckons he never saw one in all his years in France! An American company has trademarked the name butter bell and seem to have a sales and production monopoly, so that got up my nose and i searched around, high and low for a producer/retailer in Oz. Zip.
Looks like this little invention has slipped by our national consciousness. So instead of waiting for the next local market to chat with the resident potter, i purchased this lovely hand made crock from Jim online...in Oregon. oops.But its lovely and looks just right in the kitchen. No more stilton style butter for me.