Whether you prefer to be melted over hot toast, stirred into freshly cooked pasta, or dripped over the sides of a high stack of pancakes, butter is one of the most versatile staples that few of us can do without.
Butter is more than just a supplement to our favorite carbohydrates. It has been a major part of nutrition around the world for thousands of years – and in this way has built up a fascinatingly diverse range of uses. Read some of our favorites below.
1. Move the cat
If you are a cat owner, you may have come across this puzzling suggestion: spread a small drop of butter on the cat’s paws.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are several reasons why cat owners could butter Felix’s digits. It can be used as a solution for stressful situations – for example, moving to a new house. The idea is that they are so distracted by the delicious residue on their toes that they don’t notice the chaos around them. It can also help remove the smell of her old home and prevent her from running away looking for more familiar flooring.
The practice is somewhat out of date and probably more tedious than it is worthwhile. Personally, we don’t think there is enough butter in the world to make moving comfortable.
2. Scratch lottery tickets
In the late 1960s, when scratch cards were first introduced to grocery stores in the United States, the design of the scratch coating began with some teething problems. The players struggled to remove the waxy substance and often dipped a handkerchief or rag in melted butter and rubbed until their price was known.
Fortunately, for our pantries, this process has long been replaced by the ability to instead enjoy some of the best scratch cards online. Butter and technology? Not a good mix.
3. A staple in old medicine cabinets
Historians say that the ancient Romans were not fans of butter consumption – in contrast, they preferred to add olive oil to their bread. Instead, butter was seen as a useful means of relieving and healing wounds.
The use of butter to treat burns has been common until recently, but is definitely not recommended.
4. Preserve hard cheese
Even with the best will – and cheese parchment – in the world, the lifespan of our Cheddar and Cantal can all too often be shortened by dry edges and mold. An old trick to keeping cheese longer was to rub the edge with some butter after slicing.
The high fat content in butter is ideally suited to form a “protective barrier” against drought. Because fat makes mold growth difficult, butter also prevents cheese from spoiling before its time.
The trick went out of fashion when refrigerators found their way into our homes, but if your smorgasbords and fondues routinely suffer, a swab of butter is worth trying.
The use of butter instead of real, non-edible shaving foam was once featured in an episode of Seinfeld. While it gives you a good, smooth surface to work with – and plenty of moisture for soft, supple skin – we can’t promise that you won’t smell of popcorn the rest of the day.
The word “spread”
Remarkably, we can say a lot more about butter – from medicine cabinets to weekly scratch cards, butter offers far more uses than we attribute to it. From humble beginnings to the pages of history, consider some of his many talents the next time you prepare your toast.
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