Does Butter Go Bad?

I’m sure you’re not the only person to wonder, ‘Does butter go bad?’ Butter is a commodity that is used throughout the world on a daily basis in many different ways. Yet sometimes it sits in the fridge or on the countertop for a longer period of time and we don’t really know if it’s still suitable for use. This article will discuss topics like shelf life, storage and how to tell if butter is spoiled. If you’re interested in any of those, read on!

How to store butter

Butter spreads much more easily at room temperature and many recipes call for butter to be at room temperature before being added to a cake mixture, but this is not the optimum way to keep the product fresh, whether salted or unsalted butter. Butter can be kept in a cupboard and this may be fine if you have a cold cupboard or larder specifically designed for this purpose, but if you have a warm kitchen and the butter is left unwrapped on the side it may turn rancid and spoil.

Butter - it does go bad

(credit:maisonbisson)

In order to keep butter for longer periods of time, it is much better to keep it wrapped up and in a refrigerator, between 32° and 38° F. If protected adequately, this method should keep your butter fresh and extend its shelf life to about a month past its ‘sell by date’ for unsalted butter and by as much as four months for salted butter.

Freezing butter

If you wish to buy butter in bulk in advance, you can successfully store unsalted butter in a freezer for up to four or five months without it spoiling – this nearly doubles for salted butter. Obviously, you can store goods for much longer than this in a freezer, however, if you wish to retain the quality of your butter, you might wish to get a system in place whereby you can keep track of the date the item was frozen.
Unsalted Butter - It also goes bad

(credit:75001512@N00)

Butter oxidation

There are different ways to protect your butter. Wrapping it in foil away from strong odors on the top shelf of your fridge is a good first step towards preserving the shelf life of your butter. Foil prevents exposure to those elements which can cause the butter to oxidize and become stale – light and oxygen. You can tell that your butter has been oxidized by cutting a slice through the butter pat. If the inside of your butter is lighter than the outside, then the product has been damaged by oxidation. Obviously, a little difference in color doesn’t mean the butter is spoiled, but its quality is definitely lower.

How to tell if butter is spoiled

Fortunately, that’s quite easy. First off, look for discolorations on the surface. Second, sourness is a sure sign of butter being spoiled. If it has a sour smell or taste, just toss it out, as it’s no good.

Summary
Butter can go bad but, but fortunately for us, its shelf life can be elongated by very simple preparations within the home. If you must use butter at room temperature it is easy enough to cut the size of piece you are going to use and protect the rest from going bad by making sure it is securely wrapped in foil and leaving it in the fridge. If you’re using butter only every now and then, you might consider replacing it with powdered butter.