Quick Answer: Can Butter Go Bad & How Long Might It Last? Because of the high fat content of butter, it can last for a long time if stored in the proper way. For example, at room temperature it will last for around two weeks. If left in the fridge, it can stay edible for a number of weeks. If frozen, butter can last for around a year.
In this quick guide we shall take a look at how long butter might last, and whether it can go bad.
So, let’s get to it!
Can Butter Actually Go Bad?
Having a stick of butter is the perfect addition to many meals, from layering it on crunchy toast, to adding it to waffles and cupcakes.
Whilst it is versatile, it can get left in the fridge or at room temperature for long periods of time.
Because of this, you might be curious to know whether butter can actually go bad, and the various ways you can tell.
Fortunately, it is very unlikely that butter will go moldy – phew. Having said that, it can still go bad.
For this reason, you will want to make sure that the butter has not turned rancid and is still nice to eat.
Whilst butter is classed as a dairy food item, it can last a lot longer than most.
Both the minimal content of water and the fact the fat is high makes the butter a no go zone for bacterial growth.
If you have butter that has added salt, then even better because it lowers the water content further.
Also, any cream which is added to butter is pasteurized, meaning there is even lower risk of mold.
So How Long Will Butter Last?
There isn’t a definite answer when it comes to how long butter might last because there are different factors that can cause it to turn rancid and not edible.
However, in general if the butter is stored in the proper way it can last for a number of weeks within the fridge.
If you plan to leave a block of butter sitting at room temperature, then it is likely to last only a week or two.
If you want to keep the butter for future use, then freezing it will be your best bet. Doing so can help it to last for a whole year.
Because of all these factors, plus what kind of butter you have, it is always worth giving it a smell and taste test to see if it tastes weird.
If it does, then it has gone bad and no amount of using it in cooking or baking will change that fact.
How Can You Tell That Butter Has Gone Bad?
When it comes to butter, there is an easy way to know if it is okay to eat or not.
Whilst looking at it may prove tricky to know, the smell and taste should quickly give you an idea as to whether to throw it or use it.
There are a couple of ways to check to see if the butter is worth using or not:
Butter that has turned rancid smells horrible. Normally butter doesn’t smell of much which makes it quite pleasant.
However, when butter has turned rancid, you will know! Sometimes it also smells like cheese.
If it even remotely smells a little off, it is best to avoid using it. The taste is likely to be no better either.
The color can easily indicate whether butter has gone bad or not. Usually butter is a nice yellow color, the kind you associate with butter.
However, if it has gone a pale color, then this indicates that it has started to turn.
If you aren’t so sure whether the butter is pale or not, cut a slice to check the inside color.
If it appears to be much lighter than the outside color, then it means the butter has begun to oxidize.
What that tells you is that it has gone bad, and should probably be discarded.
What Do the Expiration Dates Mean On Butter?
Butter generally has a best by written on the packaging which is a date that tells you when the quality may start to drop, rather than when to eat it by.
This means that even if a week has passed and the butter was stored in the fridge, so long as it looks and smells fine, it is likely to be okay to eat.
However, let’s take a look at the different butters and how long they may last for:
Butter With No Salt
Keeping butter in the fridge is the best option if you plan on using it over a few weeks.
This is because once opened, it can last a number of weeks.
If you keep it in the fridge and it hasn’t been opened, then you can expect it to last around a month beyond the best by date.
If opened, then expect it to last around 2 weeks beyond the best by date.
If you decide to put the butter into the freezer, then it can be kept usable for a much longer time.
For example, it can last for around 6 months beyond the best by date.
If you leave it at room temperature, then it will only last for up to around a week at most.
Butter With Added Salt
Salted butter can last longer than unsalted butter due to a decrease in water content.
Once you open the butter, it can last for up to a month after the best by date before losing quality.
If the butter is unopened, then you can expect it to last around two months post the best by date.
If the salter butter is stored in the freezer then it can last for up to a year, and still be fine to use a few weeks after too.
Another upside to salted butter is that it can last up to 3 weeks at room temperature.
Does It Matter If You Eat Expired Butter?
There isn’t anything wrong with eating expired butter, and it is very unlikely it will make you sick.
For starters, if the butter has gone bad and it smells disgusting, then you are unlikely to eat it anyway.
If you eat the butter past the expiry date, and it seems fine, then go ahead.
Remember then it is usually there as a helpful guide, especially if it is just a sell by or use by.
The ones to really take note of are the use by, but even then you can still eat it a day or two over if there are no obvious signs that the food has gone bad.
If the butter was frozen for a while, then you will notice that the texture may have changed a bit causing it to not be as creamy.
That is absolutely fine and doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with it.
What Are the Correct Ways To Store Butter?
If you want butter to last longer, then you will want to know how to store it:
Inside A Fridge
Keeping it in the fridge will keep it fresh, but it must be wrapped up in its packaging to avoid any sort of contamination.
The best place to put it is on the top shelf at the back, rather than in the fridge door where the temperature changes.
At Room Temperature
If you keep butter on the counter, then keep it covered. Air and light are not its best friend, and will help it to degrade faster.
Put It In The Freezer
If you like to buy butter in bulk, then freezing it will make sure it lasts and doesn’t go to waste.
Place it in a freezer safe bag and use it within 8 months to a year.
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