Why You Should Wrap Up Leftover Butter, Especially Before Baking

Butter is one of those magical ingredients that can make almost anything taste better. Whether it's a baked potato or a humble slice of breakfast toast, a nice spreading of butter will add a creamy, salty richness to your nosh. And it's not as though you're merely consuming a guilty pleasure, though it may feel like it. According to WebMD, butter is rich in nutrients like calcium and Vitamin A, and also contains compounds that are linked to staving off obesity. Therefore, having a good stock of butter in your fridge is essential, especially if you're a baker.

Though it has its uses elsewhere, butter is king when it comes to baking. What would cookies, cake, muffins, or buttercream frosting be without butter? And if you are, like Food52, one that believes there is no such thing as "too much butter," you're going to find yourself with leftovers that need to be stashed away for creative future use. 

There are many ways to store butter. According to MasterClass, you can store butter at room temperature (provided it's salted), in the freezer, or the fridge. As most baking recipes call for unsalted butter, bakers will likely opt for storing any leftover butter in the fridge to increase its longevity. One must be careful, however, as partially used butter that is not wrapped properly has the potential to pick up undesired flavors during its time in the fridge. 

Avoiding fridge flavor

If you've ever left butter unwrapped in the fridge and wondered why it tastes a little funky, here's why. According to Urbo, that funky flavor actually comes from the fridge itself. None of us clean our refrigerators nearly as often as we should. As a result, food gets forgotten and things start to fester. While the cool temperatures of the fridge can extend a foods life, they cannot do so forever. Bacteria will eventually find a way to infiltrate, spoiling any forgotten foods and making them odorous. Seeing as butter is mostly fat, it will pick up those odors and cling onto them. This is why wrapping butter is so important when returning it to the fridge.

Keeping butter from picking up noxious fridge odors is important when it comes to baking, because how many of us want our chocolate chip cookies to have undertones of garlic, aging yogurt, and last week's chicken salad? This is why you need to cover any used butter back in its original wrapping. Do so tightly so the butter isn't exposed to any air the odors will travel on. Returning the wrapped butter to the cardboard box it was sold adds another layer of protection (via The Kitchn). Maintaining butter's creamy, inoffensive flavor is key to keeping your bakes sweet or savory, without the addition of any off putting flavors. So, fellow bakers, be sure to wrap your butter and don't toss the cardboard!