The Story Behind the French Butter Dish

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One question we get asked a lot in the pottery shop is about the french butter dish. 

 A French butter dish is a container used to maintain the freshness and spreadable consistency of butter without refrigeration. This late 19th century French-designed pottery crock has two parts: a base that holds water, and a cup to hold the packed in butter which also serves as a lid. The cup containing butter is placed into the base, where water creates an airtight seal that keeps the air (and thus 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 80 °F (27 °C) and the water is changed regularly. The French butter dish design is thought to have originated in VallaurisFrance. Vallauris is known for its pottery crafts. Others speculate that it was created in Brittany, or Normandy—both known for their butter production.

In the 1970s and 1980s, craft potters began producing and marketing the French butter dish throughout the United States at craftfairs and in art boutiques. "French Butter Dish" became the preferred name in the USA around that time and was later adapted by potters in Europe. By the end of the 20th century, French butter dishes became popular enough for manufactured versions to appear.

We've got a great selection of french butter dishes in the shop right now but I'll warn you, they sell out quickly and it's not something we always make so if you'd like one for sure, send an email to hello@villagepottery.ca or phone (902) 886-2473