Does Almond Butter Go Bad?

You decided to give almond butter a try, but after a couple of uses, you went back to your favorite PB. Now you’re ready to get back on the horse and polish off that half-open jar, but you’re not sure if it’s still okay to eat. Does almond butter go bad?

Or maybe you’re a first-time almond butter buyer, and you’re wondering if it requires refrigeration after opening or not. You’ve read conflicting information on this topic, and you don’t know who to trust.

That’s where this article comes in. In it, we talk all about storage, shelf life, and going bad (and rancid) of this nut butter. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place.

Jars of almond butter
(credit: Dan Gold)

How To Store Almond Butter

Guidelines for storing nut butters such as peanut butter or almond butter are pretty similar. The jar should sit in a cool or cold place, away from heat sources, and always sealed when not in use.

Tip

To avoid contamination, always use clean utensils when scooping or stirring the butter.

As long as the jar is unopened, it can sit in the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen. Once you open it, there are two options. You can either keep it at room temperature or put it in the fridge.

Some manufacturers, like MaraNatha (MN), generally suggest refrigeration because it helps prevent the butter from going rancid and retain quality for longer. Others, like Classic Tales (CT) make it clear that the choice is up to you:

It is safe to store the product in a cupboard or a refrigerator as per your choice. (…) However, if you live in an area which has warmer temperatures for extended period, we would recommend you refrigerate it.

The bottom line on whether or not you need to refrigerate almond butter is this:

  • if you live in a warm climate, refrigerate it
  • if you want the nut butter to last for months, keep it in the fridge
  • if you go through a single jar within a couple of weeks, you can leave it in the kitchen’s cabinet

If you leave the butter at room temperature, and it’s one without palm oil or other stabilizers, the oil will separate (CT). Oil separation is natural and perfectly harmless. Its only downside is that you need to stir the butter before every use to bring it to its optimal consistency.

Warning

Do not drain off the oil that separated. (CT) You will end up with dry almond butter that’s difficult to spread.

When it comes to refrigerating almond butter, remember that the nut butter will harden, and therefore become more difficult to spread. To counteract that, leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes before it’s needed and stir prior to consumption (CT).

Raw almonds on a table
(credit: Sara Cervera)

How Long Does Almond Butter Last

Just like with peanut butter, it’s difficult to tell what’s the shelf life of almond butter. Generally, this popular sandwich spread should keep peak quality for at least nine months from jarring (CT), and three months of opening (OA).

Of course, these periods are what the manufacturers give us, so it’s understandable that, in most cases, almond butter will easily last past those. How long will it last exactly, you ask? As usual, it’s impossible to say. For an unopened jar, it’s easily a couple of months past its best-by date. When it comes to an opened jar, it’s probably a few months past those three months. More if you refrigerate it.

PantryFridge
Almond butter (unopened)Best-by date + 6 monthsBest-by + 12 months
Almond butter (opened)3 – 5 months6 – 9 months

Please note that the periods above are only estimates, and vary for different manufacturers.

Cotton bag with almonds
(credit: Ignacio F.)

How To Tell If Almond Butter Is Bad?

For starters, just to reiterate what I wrote earlier, separation of oil is perfectly natural and harmless. Almond butter with a layer of oil on top is not spoiled by any means.

Having covered that, let’s talk about spoilage of almond butter. Like with most nuts and seeds, e.g., almonds, the worst enemy of this vegan butter is rancidification (WIKI) of fat. The oil goes slowly rancid by being exposed to air, light, moisture, or bacteria. And warm temperature speeds up that process. That’s why it’s essential to store it away from sunlight, in a closed container, and why refrigeration helps it retain peak flavor for longer.

How to tell if my almond butter is rancid, you ask? First, give it a good whiff. If it smells sour, or somewhat chemical like oil paint, instead of the usual nutty aroma, that’s a sure sign it’s done for. Second, give it a taste, and if it’s off by any means, discard it.

Other than oil going rancid, look for the usual signs of spoilage such as black or brown spots on the surface or the insides of the jar, any signs of mold, funny smell, or bad taste. If either is present, discard the vegan butter.

Sources