I am always on the lookout for things that would be useful if the power went out. This goes especially for things that make use of alternative means of energy, or better yet, are not dependent upon any external power sources at all. Examples are solar ovens, hand-crank radios, and manual grain mills. Here is one which you may, (or may not,) have heard of…butter crocks.
Butter crocks have been around for hundreds of years. They were developed in France during the Middle Ages as a way to keep their butter from spoiling. A butter crock is a small ceramic jar with a lid which houses the butter. How it works is that the butter is placed in a saucer-shaped portion of the lid. The lid is then placed in the jar which is partially filled with cool water. The butter is then sealed off from air by being surrounded by the water, thus protecting the butter from spoiling quickly. By replacing the water every few days, one could keep the butter fresh on the kitchen counter for weeks. Storing the butter in this way also keeps it soft and spreadable. In fact, many culinary fans out there use butter crocks just for this reason alone.
Butter crocks do not take a lot of space in the kitchen, and they come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Here are some suppliers:
There are also a number of different brands available online. Butter crocks are also sold under the names of “butter keepers” and “butter bells.”
Once you get one, they are simple enough to use. Just mold softened butter into the lid, ensuring that no air gets trapped in. Fill the jar with some cool water, and then place the lid in the jar. That is all there is to it. At this point, you would be able to keep butter available to use without the need for refrigeration.
I wouldn’t consider a butter crock a necessity, but I do consider it something that would make life a little easier if access was lost to regular refrigeration in a short or long-term emergency.