Did You Know | Life Hacks

10 Genius Butter Hacks That Solve Tricky Cooking Problems

Joy from flickr / rodeopix from Pixabay

Cooking is tricky, but baking is downright hard.

Before you can even put something in the oven (and probably burn it) you have to muster all your ingredients in exactly the right way.

Butter is one of the trickiest, because even its temperature has a huge impact on your finished dish.

That's why every chef - from master baker to total amateur - should know these 10 genius butter hacks.

1. Soften butter in a pinch

You're three steps into a recipe when you realize you forgot to soften the butter. Yikes! But all hope is not lost - yet.

Here's my favorite butter-softening trick: heat a glass, either by mircowaving it with water inside or by running it under hot water from the sink.

Dry the inside of the glass quickly, then trap the butter inside. The steamy glass will soften your butter very quickly.

Learned this little trick on @fablifeshow! How to soften, not melt, ya buttah

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

Chrissy Teigen uses a Pyrex measuring cup for this trick, so the entire stick fits inside easily.

In a pinch, a good whack for the rolling pin will also soften your butter nicely.

2. Soften butter the old fashioned way

Almost everyone I know learned this trick from their mom, but it's worth mentioning anyway just in case.

Butter will get to room temperature more quickly in a small amount.

Chopped butter will soften much faster than a full stick would, so lop off what you need and stick the rest back in the fridge.

Ideally, you should chop up a stick of butter as soon as you take it home. Use the marks on the wrapper to pre-portion the stick and you'll save a lot of prep time.

3. Save melted butter for later

Melting butter can be tricky - I find that I always end up with too much or too little, no matter how closely I follow the recipe.

If you have a large amount of melted butter left over, don't just waste it.

Pour the butter into a bowl, then sit that bow in a larger bowl of ice water.

The butter will harden up again, and can be safely kept in the fridge until you need it.

4. Grate your butter

For certain baked goods - pies, scones, biscuits, and anything else with a flaky crust - the type of butter you use is important.

You get the best texture when the butter if finely chopped, but still cold.

A basic cheese grater can get the best results, just thinly slice the butter stick like it's hard cheese.

It's fast and effective, and the shredded butter blends in nicely.

You can also leave shredded butter on hot toast, to watch your breakfast butter itself.

If your old grater isn't up to the task, specially-designed graters are made for butter, and they slice it extra-thin.

5. Save cheese from mold

Cheese
Reilly Smith - Pexels

I often buy a wheel of fancy cheese before a big party or family event.

It tastes great, but it's also expensive, and usually gets moldy before I've finished eating the whole thing.

But butter is a natural preservative, which can prevent mold from spreading.

Once you've broken the hard rind of a cheese, rub butter on the exposed cheese.

You can enjoy the buttered cheese, or just slice off a thin piece and eat what's underneath.

Remember to add more butter each time you cut off a piece of the cheese.

6. Grease a pan in no time

Here's why you should never throw out a butter stick wrapper.

I keep all of mine in a Ziploc bag until a recipe calls for a greased pan or baking sheet.

You simply rub the buttery wrapper on the sheet and it's greased in no time - while your fingers stay perfectly clean.

7. Make homemade butter

You might imagine that making your own butter takes long, boring hours of pumping a churn, but that's not the case.

You can have fresh butter in less than 20 minutes, and all you need is heavy cream and a Mason jar.

Pour the cream about halfway to the top of your jar - any variety high in fat will do.

Shake the jar hard for around eight minutes, until there's a layer of butter under liquid buttermilk.

Strain off the buttermilk, then drop the butter in a bowl. Pour cold water over the butter and mold it into a ball with your hands.

Drain out the water, then pour more in and mold the butter again. Repeat the process until the liquid is clear - meaning the buttermilk has been washed off.

You can store the butter in a crock, or another clean jar, but be aware it will go bad faster than store-bought.

8. Spot "room temperature" butter

As we discussed, the temperature of the butter in your recipe is crucial to baking a good dish.

But it's never really clear when butter has softened to "room temperature." Here's how to tell:

If butter bends in your hands, instead of breaking, it's warm enough to use.

If a light touch from your finger leaves an imprint on butter, it's actually too warm, and should be chilled.

9. Make compound butter

Most brands offer special varieties of butter flavored with herbs or other ingredients.

But it's very easy to make your own - using whatever flavor you like.

Start by chopping butter into chucks with a food processor, adding in your other ingredients when it's in pieces.

Chopped herbs and spices, cheese, citrus zest, and even dried fruits are popular choices.

Scrape the finished mixture into plastic wrap, then shape it into a stick or log. You should chill or freeze it again before serving.

10. Keep brownies and squares pretty

Brownies are my favorite dessert to bake, and I have my recipe down pat.

But the moment you actually cut in to the pan, everything goes wrong. By the time I'm finished, I'm left with a pan of lopsided and hacked up brownies.

Here's how to avoid my mistake: coat the blade with butter.

It will cut cleanly through the brownies, leaving pretty, uniform squares.

Have you tried any of these hacks before?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com