Butter: In the fridge or on the counter?

Went to a friend’s house yesterday for dinner and noticed the butter dish was still on the table after we finished and were clearing the table. I put it back in the refrigerator (assuming it belonged in there), and she put it back on the table, explaining that her family always kept it there. “So it’s nice and soft for when we need it.”)
Apart from the fact that a dairy product normally found in the refrigerated foods section of the store is sitting on the table with no covering (no lid on the glass dish), I can understand this reasoning. I personally hate ripping holes in perfectly good toast, crumbs flying everywhere, because the butter is still solid.
But gramma’s warnings about health and food safety still haunt me years later - “Butter is dairy, dairy foods belong in the icebox.”

So checking in with the fellow Dopers: do you leave the butter on the counter or put it back in the fridge?

And if you are a counter-leaver, why (IYHO) in gawd’sname would someone leave the butter uncovered? Bugs and dirt and cats, oh my, abound. But it’s not my house or my rules; I just don’t understand the reasoning.

It’s in the fridge…however when I make butter-cream frosting, I leave the cake out so I’m pretty darn sure that unrefrigerated buttah won’t kill you.

They DO make covered butter dishes. Perhaps you should buy one for your friend.

I leave it out, but DEFINITELY covered. I once had a roommate who had a cat and used to leave it uncovered. Needless to say, I had my own butter supply in that particular place.

In the fridge. I use butter so infrequently that if I left a stick of it out it would be rancid before I finished it.

The only time I saw butter kept in the cupboard was during the short time I lived in Southern California. Being from the Deep South, I assumed it was a climate thing. I can’t imagine the heat and humidity of the Deep South being compatible with keeping butter out of the fridge. Yuk! Southern California is much drier and milder.

But that is just my guess. Maybe it doesn’t matter so much now with air conditioning being ubiquitous. Before that, any butter kept out in, say, Louisiana, would turn into a runny, gloppy mess.

Covered glass butter dish on the table when company’s coming. Otherwise it stays in the fridge, because animal hairs find their way onto the edge of the dish. I don’t mind eating a little cat hair but I try to limit serving it to guests.

I was so surprised when I went to the US and found the butter in the cupboard. I knew my host was a bit confused at times, but I never figured she’d put the butter in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge (well she didn’t keep the cereal in the fridge, but that’s what I figured had happened). Turns out, that’s the way she wanted it. I passed on butter during my stay, I thought it was kinda gross.

Both. I have a covered butter dish on the counter by the toaster to put on toast and such. There is also butter in the fridge for cooking.

I clean the kitchen to combat the bug and dirt problem. Don’t have a cat. But I put my Brummel and Brown butter/yogurt mix in the fridge. Why? It’s Southern California. If you don’t put it in the fridge, well, the next day you can pour it on your popcorn.

During cooler times of the year, it’s in a covered butter dish in the cupboard or on the countertop. When it’s hot, I have no choice but to put it in the fridge lest I have to pour butter on my toast.

I heard about this a few years ago. In a reasonable climate, butter will not go bad all that fast. Remember, people were making butter a long time before there were refrigerators. It seemed to be a usage thing. If you use butter frequently then you’ll probably consume it before it goes bad. (I’d guess this is more true of salted butter.) If you use it infrequently, it will go bad before you use it if you leave it out.

I don’t use much butter, so I keep it in the fridge.

It was 39C today and it’s going to be 41C tomorrow, so yeah it’s in the fridge, I’m not lubing up for anything. But in winter it stays – covered – on the bench

Am I the only old anandtecher here who remembers the BUTTER thread from way back? This was their Guy-stuff. Well, that and the debate over butter vs. margarine.

FTR, I keep mine in the fridge, because I use it only in cooking, and only very infrequently.

I’ve always kept it in the fridge, but use it so seldom that it would turn rancid on the counter. However, if I’m making a butter cream, I have no problem leaving it out overnight to soften, and then leaving the cake out of the fridge (covered some how).

Back in my restaurant days, we would keep a pot on the flat top with 30 lbs. of melted butter/margerine at all times (clarified butter for cooking).

It would last for a couple of weeks and not go bad. Don’t know if it matters that it was separated or not, but the board of health didn’t seem to mind.

Growing up in the cold north, we always kept our butter on the counter, in a covered dish. My mother still does. Butter stays fine for about 3 days on the counter, unless you live in a place so warm that it melts.

In Colorado, it’s much too warm in the summer to do this. In the winter, it’s fine. However, I use so little butter that I usually keep it in the fridge cuz even if I put out only 1/2 a stick, it usually goes bad before I use it.

Nowadays, though, I have one of these contraptions, which keeps butter nice and soft on the counter for about a week. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants soft butter.

I grew up with butter on the counter. It was usually kept covered, but not necessarily. With three kids in the family, and putting butter on everything like it was 1973, it didn’t stay around long enough to go bad.

Now I keep it in the fridge, because we just don’t use it that much, although when I do use it to spread, I’m annoyed that it isn’t soft and mushy.

In the cupboard always unless the weather is EXTREMELY hot.
It just tastes better-soft and creamy!

I keep it in a butter dish with a lid, since I have cats. I don’t know if they like butter or not, but I don’t feel like taking any chances, either. In the hottest part of the summer, I have to put it in the fridge since I don’t have air conditioning. I have never gotten sick from this. I mean, how else are you going to spread it?

[homersimpson] Mmmmmm…butter! [/homersimpson]

One stick sits on the counter so it stays soft. Since we go thru a stick of butter in 2-3 days max, it doesn’t go bad. The rest stays in the fridge. Except that all of it goes in the fridge during the worst part of the summer, else it melts all over everything.

At work, I keep it in the fridge. I don’t eat it fast enough & it would go rancid if left sitting out.

Definitely covered. We’ve got two cats. Although they’re forbidden from the counters, they are cats. An uncovered stick of butter would last approximately 15 seconds after we left the kitchen. Even without cats, I’d keep it covered due to dust & ick.

FYI - rancid butter won’t hurt you, it just tastes nasty. As someone mentioned previously, butter was used for ages as a way to preserve milk.

Now that I think about it, I suppose I do both. Most of the time, the butter is in the fridge, but I love fresh-baked bread, either by me or from the store. I’ll leave butter on the counter all day for dipping, and then stick it in the fridge overnight. When the butter is out, it’s always covered (I buy it in the little plastic tubs).

As a side note, most cats enjoy the taste of butter. I had butter on the counter uncovered once, and busted one of the little furry bastards up there with his face in the container. He looked at me just long enough for me to see butter all over his nose before he ran off.

$#@&% cats.