If you want to keep your butter fresh and delicious, you gotta store it properly! A cooking staple for thousands of years, there was definitely a time when it did not stay in a refrigerator. So how did it stay fresh then? Does this mean you can leave it on the countertop for ages, and it’ll be fine and dandy?
Let’s take a look at the best ways to store butter for freshness, taste, and longevity.
How To Store Butter
Butter, with its high fat and low water content, is less prone to bacterial growth compared to other dairy products. This is particularly true with salted butter; the salt acts as a preservative, further safeguarding it against bacterial growth.
Still, it is best to wrap or cover butter and keep it in the refrigerator for optimal storage over extended periods. Freezing butter is also viable if you will not use it within a few months. But then comes the debate…refrigerated butter is impossible to spread!!
To strike a balance between refrigeration and spreadability, you can refrigerate the bulk of your butter while keeping a couple of days’ worth covered in a dish on the counter or in the pantry. Just make sure it is covered, airtight, and shielded from light.
Butter spoils when it is exposed to air and light. That’s why some butter brands at the supermarket opt for foil packaging for that extra layer of protection. If your butter comes in a foil pack, then keep it there when you refrigerate it!
One last note: do not store your butter in the refrigerator door, as the temperature fluctuates too much, and melting then solidifying can mess up the texture of your butter.
Can You Freeze Butter?
Freezing butter, or most other cooking oils, is a great idea. Whether it’s salted or unsalted, take advantage of sales and store plenty if you have the space!
For optimal preservation of butter’s delicate flavor and texture, follow these steps when freezing: keep it in its original carton, and seal it in a resealable freezer storage bag. This ensures that freezer smells won’t affect its quality as quickly.
While butter can last for approximately four months (unsalted) or six months (salted) in the fridge, freezing it further extends freshness. Butter should be frozen prior to the use by or the expiry date indicated on the package. There is a possibility that if stored for more than four months, it may start to lose its natural taste and absorb flavors and odors from the freezer. This is why wrapping it correctly is a good idea! While unwrapped sticks of butter can be placed directly in the freezer, within their respective cartons, if the butter has already been opened, each stick should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or foil before being placed in a freezer bag or zip lock bag for storage.
Once removed from the freezer, it is advisable to use the butter within 30 days to maintain optimal quality.
How To Defrost Butter
Thawing butter in the refrigerator is the best practice, but it takes approximately 6 to 7 hours or overnight, depending on the fridge temperature.
Softened butter is needed for numerous baking recipes, and it’s a pain when you forget and have to take it out mid-recipe and let it defrost! In such situations, grating frozen butter can be a quick alternative to achieve the desired consistency. Use the large holes of a box grater to shred the butter, which will speed up the softening process.
It is not recommended to defrost frozen butter in the microwave to soften it, as it tends to melt unevenly. Melted butter is not suitable for baking or any recipe that calls for softened butter. In such cases, it would be better to repurpose the melted butter by drizzling it over vegetables or frying some eggs in it, for example.
How Long Does Butter Last?
– Pantry storage: Salted butter can be kept for up to three weeks at a coolish room temperature. For optimal flavor, the USDA suggests consuming within 1 to 2 days. Unsalted or home-churned butter won’t last as long due to less preservation from the salt or excess buttermilk still in the butter.
– Refrigerator storage: Generally, butter stays fresh for 1 to 6 months, depending on the type of butter, but it may absorb odors and lose its taste after the 1-month mark.
– Freezer storage: Stick butter can be stored in the freezer for 8-12 months, while bulk blocks can last up to 18 months. If stored incorrectly, they can start developing a freezer taste at around the 4-month mark.
How To Know When Butter Is Rancid?
When it comes to butter, trust your instincts! The first sign that your butter has gone bad is its smell. I always trust my nose. If you detect any sour or unpleasant odors, don’t take the risk. If you can’t smell it, then the taste will be off or sour. A small taste of rancid butter should not harm you.
While mold indicates that your butter is super duper rancid, you’re more likely to notice subtle spoilage before the mould stage, such as changes in color, texture, and off-putting smells.
Consuming spoiled butter might not make you sick, but it certainly won’t be enjoyable!
The healthiest way to store butter is tightly wrapped up in the refrigerator (not in the door), and if you are not going to consume it within a month or so, freeze it.
Keep it in a specifically designed butter dish in a cool, dry place, away from any light and heat.
Storing butter long-term is best in the freezer. Ensure it is wrapped properly, and it can last 6 to 18 months, depending on the butter.
It is better to store it in glass, as it won’t absorb plastic smells or tastes.
Fresh butter you make yourself has a shorter shelf life than store-bought butter, which depends on a few things (such as how much buttermilk you managed to get out of your butter!) Mine usually lasts around a month in the fridge before it starts to turn.
Butter is an animal fat-based spread made from milk solids, whereas margarine is made from vegetable oils that have been processed to solidify them.