9 Better Butter Skills

To Store

Keep unopened butter in its original wrapper in the coldest part of the refrigerator or in the freezer. After opening, store well-covered to protect it from absorbing odors and minimize exposure to oxygen. Salted and unsalted butter can be frozen for up to one year.

To Measure

Firm stick butter may have measurements printed on the wrapper. For softened butter, press into a dry measuring cup or spoon and level off with a knife or spatula.

To Soften

Soften a measured amount of stick butter for 30 minutes at room temperature or microwave on low for 1 to 1½ minutes, checking that it doesn’t melt. Don’t substitute melted butter for softened butter in baking recipes; the texture of the end product will change.

To Melt

Melt butter on low or medium heat on the stovetop or microwave butter until nearly melted, then stir until it melts.

To Cream or Whip

To cream, mix slightly softened butter in a mixer or food processor at medium speed or by pulsing until butter is slightly fluffy and light in color. To whip, continue processing until butter is fluffy.

To Clarify

Melt butter over low or medium heat, skimming off and discarding froth that forms on top. Clear, yellow clarified butter will rise; milk solids will settle to the bottom. When cooled, pour out the clarified butter, discarding the milk solids. Refrigerate clarified butter for up to three weeks.

To Sauté or Pan-fry

Butter burns easily so use moderate heat. For better results and high-heat sautéing or panfrying, use clarified butter.

To Brown

Melt a small amount of butter over medium heat, just until toasty brown. Strain when cooled or leave in the browned specks for flavor. Drizzle over meat, poultry, fish or vegetables for a nutty finish.

To "Cut" into Dry Ingredients

With a pastry blender, two knives or a food processor, combine cold butter with dry ingredients just until they form small particles, not a paste. For a flaky crust, the colder the butter, the better.

Roberta Larson Duyff
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS, is an award-winning author, national speaker, media writer, and food industry/government consultant, focusing on practical, science-based food and nutrition guidance -- and promoting "the power of positive nutrition” and the great tastes of good health to consumers of all ages.