"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 31 December 2015

All is revealed

Last Saturday, I asked anyone if they could guess what the item in the picture was, and what I used it for.
What is this, and what is it's use?
Well, a lot of you got the right answer to the first question - that it is a clay pot, and drip tray.  Upsdie down.  But, only one person correctly surmised the second one - "what do I use it for".  Clever Leigh :)

I have scoured this country for this item.  I almost considered importing one - if I could find one.  Although the cost of the transport would've been exorbitant!

I have contacted pottery studios - most of whom were unable, or unwilling, to assist in making a single item.

So, I had to adapt.  Whilst visiting the (smaller) retail branch of SSK in Swellendam town last week I finally found someone who stocks real clay flower pots, and drip saucers.  (By the way, I hate all the plastic plant pots which abound in most stores / garden outlets, don't you?  They perish in the sun and heat up with the ambient temperature.  Utterly useless in my opinion.)

I wish you could've heard my "Whoooop" when I spotted them neatly sitting on the shelf.  It seemed as though everyone within earshot turned to see why I had made the noise lol.  And scratched their heads when they saw the mundane item in question.

Ha!  That's because they didn't know what I wanted it for :)

Taking my precious items home, they were thoroughly washed in very hot water, given a light layer of clean beeswax on the inside only, and put straight to work.

As what, I hear you ask?
My "make a plan" butter dish :)
The cork is to prevent any nasty
insects from invading the cool
interior via the drainage hole.
As a butter dish, silly :)  A type of zeer pot (or pot-in-a-pot fridge) - for my butter :)

I have been searching for a clay butter dish that is glazed on the inside, but raw clay on the outside.

Being glazed internally would allow me to keep my butter in it without it making too much mess on the "serving" surface, whilst the outer unglazed surface of the "lid", when it is moistened under the tap every morning, will keep the butter chilled throughout the day via the evapouration of the moisture it has obtained from that quick wetting.
If you click on either of the pics above you'll be able to see the beads of perspiration as evapouration
 keeps the butter chilled.

The butter in the pics above has been in the "butter dish" for 4 hours - can you see the condensation on the sides of the butter?  That is how well this system works.  This will also mean that during the hot summer months I won't have to keep opening the fridge door every time I make a sandwich or slice of toast for RMan and I, which should certainly help prevent the fridge motor from switching on unnecessarily because the door has been opened and the cold air has escaped.

Not using the whole slab, but just placing enough butter which is required for a couple of days, is the key.  That will prevent wastage due to the possibility of the butter turning rancid.  After all, the homemade butter dish is not a 4oC fridge ;)

The butter is firm to the touch, but still soft enough to spread on bread or toast without breaking it.  Before, when I needed butter from the fridge, it was too hard, and broke the bread when I tried to spread it - even if I "skimmed" it from the top of the slab.  So, most times I used margarine for spreading, and kept butter for cooking only (mashed potatoes, frying eggs, adding to gravies / bechamel sauce, etc.)

During winter I won't need to moisten the sides because the ambient temperature will suffice.  But, during summer, this will work perfectly. 

I have now, finally, officially ditched margarine :D

What a way to start a New Year!  :D

Happy New Year everyone - I hope your 2016 is filled with love, laughter and contentment.


  1. What a cracking idea. I make my own butter but it is so hard to spread straight from the fridge. Now I shall have to see if I can find a pot like yours.

    1. Cherie - You'll probably be lucky enough to find a proper clay butter dish in the US of A. Just ensure that the outer surface is dwfinitely unglazed - that will ensure that the evapouration process occurs ;)

      Do you sell your butter? Perhaps you could add the butter dish to your items with an explanation of how it works ;

  2. Now what a clever idea.
    A very Happy New Year to you and yours. May the year ahead be just what you want it to be.

    1. Mum - Thank you, my friend. And reciprocal wishes wing their way back to your part of the world too :)

  3. you are very adaptable, wishing you both a wonderful 2016

    1. Thank you, Dawn, and the same good wishes to you and yours for 2016 :)

  4. What a great idea! I'm going to give it a try. Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year.

    1. Vicki - Thank you. I'm so glad you have your son nearby - I hope 2016 is wonderful in every way.

  5. Such a good idea, but would never work with my dad. He loved the butter really hard so he could slice off nice thick slices. We used to say he liked a bit of bread on his butter.

    1. PQSA - You dad sounds like my eldest niece - she also likes a bit of bread with her butter ;)

  6. We've been talking about using a butter dish as real butter is so much nicer than spread.
    As for the plastic pots verses teracotta over here I had a bad winter and the frost destroyed most of mine so I stick with plastic for now!

    1. Kev - Oh, butter wins hands down, anywhere, anytime and anyhow :)

      Our sun destroys plastic pots - they are brittle and break after just one season. So, terracotta (now that I've found a local supplier) is the way to go :)

  7. well I would never have guessed that.

    Happy new year!!!

  8. Wonderful 2016 to you all! When I saw the pot, I thought you would use it to water your plants. If you look at the Australian blog, Out Back, you will see how the clay pots are used to wick moisture into the garden beds and save on water. Have you tried A(r)grilla, a Pretoria based pottery for one of those butter dishes? I am, sort of, if I remember correctly sure that I bought one from them many, many years ago!

  9. Marlene - Thank you for the Agrilla contact - I'll check out their web page.

    I haven;t seen the pots used as wicking pots, I'll check that out too :)

    Happy 2016 wishes to you and yours too :)

  10. that might also work to keep cheese at a more tasty temperature

    1. Diana - Yeah, I reckon it would too :) A wider based pot would probably work better than the one I purchased.


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