Does butter go bad? This is an interesting question because butter is one of those products that never really hear of spoiling. You can leave it out at room temperature and it seemingly does not go bad. On the other hand, butter is derived from milk and as many of us know, milk is prone to spoil rather quickly. Well, butter does go bad as some point. Let’s dig a little deeper into the facts about butter.
Shelf Life Of Butter
While butter is a dairy product, the churning process leaves mostly the fat portion (butterfat) of milk, while eliminating much of the moisture that can promote spoilage. Butter’s approximate 80 percent fat content is not an ideal place for bacteria to grow. Additionally, you have to factor in that most store bought butter is pasteurized, which initially kills off many potentially harmful microbes. If you buy salted butter, you also get the benefit of an extra preservative from the high sodium content.
Salted and unsalted butter should ideal be left in the refrigerator until ready for use. The fridge temperature should be at or below 40°F. Butter will keep up to four months before becoming rancid. However, always reference the date printed on the packaging. Unopened butter will last 30 days beyond the printed date while opened but will last up to 3 weeks.
Butter At Room Temperature
Butter can be a real pain to spread if it is left in the refrigerator before use. Many people opt to keep butter at room temperature in order to always have soft butter on hand. Butter can be left a room temperature for about 20-30 days as long as it is kept in an appropriate airtight container like a French butter crock (see below). If you are using a normal container, it should only be left out for a few days before rancidity is a concern. It is advised to keep your butter in the refrigerator if temperatures exceed 70°F no matter the container.
You can freeze butter if you are unable to use it before the expiration. Butter freezes well because it lacks a significant amount of moisture that can freeze inside the product and ruin the texture or taste. You can freeze butter up to a year. Be sure to seal it in a freezer bag while in the original packaging. Any opened butter can be wrapped in foil and then sealed in an airtight freezer bag. Thaw the butter in the refrigerator.
Butter has the ability to seep in odors from other nearby foods in the refrigerator. Opened butter should be resealed in a butter dish or similar container before putting it back in the refrigerator. Keep your butter in an airtight container as discussed above, if you wish to leave it at room temperature.
Signs That Butter Has Gone Bad
Any discoloration is a sign that butter has gone bad. You may also notice a sour odor or taste when consumed. When in doubt, it best to just throw out anything questionable. For most people it is better to be out a couple of bucks than potentially severely ill.