Does Butter Expire or Go Bad?

by Charlie
Does Butter Expire or Go Bad

Butter is a very versatile food. From spreading it on your toast to adding it into your cookies, you want to make sure that it’s going to be good.

Does Butter Expire? Butter does expire, but it usually lasts a pretty long time before doing so, especially if stored correctly. Butter should last for at least another week after the “best by” date. Expired butter will usually taste rancid, and it will be obvious to tell that it’s gone bad.

The rest of this article is going to teach you more about butter and how to tell if it’s safe to eat, as well as how to store it so it lasts as long as possible.

How Long Does Butter Last?

Butter will last to its expiration or “best by” date on the packaging, and after that it should be good for at least another week or so. However, if you are storing your butter in the fridge, it is sometimes able to last another couple months after the expiration date. 

So how you store your butter makes a big difference on how long it lasts. If you aren’t planning on using it right away, it can be very beneficial to make sure you are storing it correctly so that it stays good for as long as possible.

Whether your butter is salted or unsalted also makes a big difference. Salted butter tends to stay good for longer because salt is a preservative, and it makes it hard for bacteria to grow. However, the butter still has fat, which will cause it to go rancid after a while despite the salt.

Where Should You Store Your Butter?

You can store butter at room temperature, but it will spoil very quickly and might not even last to the printed expiration date on the package. Storing butter in your fridge in an airtight container is going to be your best bet, as the butter will keep for much longer.

Oxidation is what happens to the fats in butter and what causes butter to go rancid. Keeping your butter in the fridge will slow the oxidation process, and it will also slow the growth of any bacteria in unsalted or whipped butter. Therefore, butter will stay good for so much longer in the fridge than on the counter.

As long as the temperature in your house is lower than about 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s okay to store your salted butter at room temperature. If it’s salted, it will probably last at least 2 weeks before going rancid. At room temperature, it’s important to store the butter in an airtight container away from any sunlight or heat sources (such as an oven). 

Another option is to just store a little bit of butter on the counter and keep the rest in the fridge. This is perfect if you enjoy having soft butter on hand that you can easily spread onto toast, but don’t think that you will use it very quickly. 

How Do You Tell If Butter Has Gone Bad?

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell when your butter has gone bad. It might have a strange texture, taste, or smell, or have discoloration. Sometimes butter that has gone bad will grow mold, though this is pretty rare unless you leave it out for a very long time.

Butter that is still good should be an even white or yellow color all around. If your butter has darker or lighter spots on it, this means that it’s gone bad. If you don’t see any on the outside but cut into the butter, there could be discoloration on the inside as well. Either way, this is a sign that the butter isn’t good to use anymore.

Butter that’s gone bad will usually have a pretty rancid and sour flavor to it, and you’ll be able to tell right away that something is off. It can also smell gross and different than how it should. If you taste or smell your butter and it doesn’t seem right, you should throw it out.

Butter that is super hard or very soft and stringy is probably bad as well. Just keep in mind that storing it in the fridge will make it harden and storing it on the counter will make it soft, so be sure that you’re using good judgment on its texture. Usually, the strange texture will be accompanied with a taste or smell if the butter has gone south.

Lastly, butter can grow mold if you leave it too long without noticing it’s gone rancid. If you see any black or gray spots, this is mold, and you should throw the butter out immediately.

Should You Eat Expired Butter?

Eating expired butter usually won’t hurt you, but it probably won’t be that enjoyable either (unless the butter is still good, that is. If it’s still good, it’s completely fine to eat). If the butter has gone bad, it’s going to taste bad and not be fun to eat, but most of the time it shouldn’t make you sick.

If your butter is salted, it makes it really hard for bacteria to grow. Butter also has a really low protein content, which is something that’s needed for bacteria that causes food poisoning to thrive. This means that it’s very uncommon to get sick from eating spoiled butter, and the worst that can happen is a minor stomach ache.

However, if your butter is growing mold, that’s a different story. Mold spores can contain bacteria that will make you sick, and it’s definitely not a good idea to eat moldy butter. 

Final Thoughts

Butter does expire, and it’s easy to tell once it is no longer good to eat. Rancid butter won’t hurt you, but it will also taste really gross, so eating it once it’s gone bad is out of the picture. That being said, butter will last a pretty long time in the fridge, and you will probably go through it before it gets to that point.

Whatever you do, we hope that this article helped you understand butter more, and that you will take some of these tips into consideration next time you buy a package from the store. 

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