Save and Reuse Extra Butter

muffin with butter on plateFood must have been a lot scarcer a century ago than it is now. A hundred-year-year old magazine had this tip about how to successfully save those tiny dabs of extra butter that are sometimes left over after buttering bread:

Use bread and butter plates – yes, even if you do your own dishes. Every bit of left-over butter or margarine can be saved this way. It can’t be, or isn’t always, if put on the dinner plate.

American Cookery (August-September, 1918)

Is it just me, or does this tip seem slightly gross? At my house, I scrape any left-over butter off the plate and throw it away. Of course, I never use bread and butter plates, but still this seems a bit over the top.

22 thoughts on “Save and Reuse Extra Butter

  1. I can’t remember even my savings-obsessed mother saving butter, but I do remember being taught to never, ever, take more butter than I would need, and to ask for more if I hadn’t gotten enough. I don’t know if butter was rationed during WWII, but my mother’s behavior suggests it might have been. Perhaps this advice is related.

  2. In my research, the lower classes and poor would sit down to a fixed plate to make sure everyone would get a equal share of a meager meal. Bread would already be buttered or have jam on it. Lard would sometimes used on toast with jam. My vintage china has little butter pat plates and the silver plate flatware has individual little butter spreaders. It does make me wonder if the kitchen help would help themselves to the bits of butter to take home. There was shortages because of WWI that people had to adapt and be frugal that lingered on for while after the war was over. Only 40% of the population at that time lived on farms and self sufficient at feeding themselves.

  3. I
    My mom saved everything. I remember her saving soap slivers to make detergent. She also saved chicken fat for cooking. Maybe they saved butter for cooking….the heat would destroy germs.

  4. I must be a real war-baby, though I was born just after. I was brought up immensely frugal, and yes, I’d save butter – for cooking. One thing I always do is not food-related. I buy soap months ahead of needing it so it can dry out in the airing cupboard and thereby last longer.

  5. Oh wow… never heard or seen that before.. mom buttered our toast before putting on the table, when serving bread with a meal she had a butter plate but she would only put so much out for we all loved butter ..it never stayed on our plates,she would often get after us for licking our knives before finished eating.๐Ÿ˜€We did however save the wrappers from the butter to bake our potatoes in,or grease a cookie sheet.

  6. I remember this obsessive teacher in home economics when I was in high school. She spent an entire class on butter โ€“โ€“ the special funny butter server was used to take a portion of butter and put it on your plate, she said. Then you would use your own butter knife to take a little of that portion to spread each piece of carefully ripped off bread. She reviewed the butter etiquette the next day as well. I remember that I couldn’t look at my girlfriend because we would have burst into laughter. We called her Mrs. Butterworth from that day on.

  7. Fascinating post, Sheryl — the idea and the comments. I can understand saving the untouched butter. Even on current Ina Garten cooking shows, she uses the emptied butter paper for buttering the baking pan.

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