Having soft, easily spreadable butter is ideal for dinner parties and everyday butter needs but does butter go bad if left out? How long can it be left out before it goes bad? The short answer is butter can’t be left out indefinitely but it can be left out for a period of time. Continue reading to learn how long you should leave it out if you decide to and tips for how to maximize the safety of leaving butter out so that it stays soft and creamy.
It certainly would be convenient if there were a way to do so but unfortunately no. Keeping butter unrefrigerated for too long will cause it to spoil. It will go rancid before it develops mold usually. Butter has a very high fat content which helps inhibit the growth of mold. Unfortunately it doesn’t prevent it indefinitely but just enables butter to be left out much longer than other dairy products that will go bad much more quickly. Salted butter will keep slightly longer unrefrigerated thanks to salts ability to help inhibit mold growth.
Typically butter should only be left unrefrigerated for a day or two at the most. If you left your butter out overnight you needed worry. It’s possible to extend the freshness of unrefrigerated butter buy keeping it in an airtight container and ensuring it doesn’t get exposed to light. There are butter crocks designed specifically for this purpose that work very well. It’s possible for butter to be kept out of the refrigerator as much as 2 weeks if kept in a butter crock.
It should be noted that if your local climate keeps your room temperature above 70 degrees then leaving butter out of the refrigerator isn’t a good idea. It can spoil more quickly and or not hold its shape.
For refrigerated butter, it can be kept for a month past its printed date. If the butter contains oils it should last up to 2 months past its printed date. Butter kept in the freezer will remain fresh anywhere from 6 to 9 months past its printed date. Opened butter will only last 2 weeks past its printed date when refrigerated.
Surprisingly enough, rancid butter won’t make you sick. It might make you vomit from the unpleasant smell and taste but it won’t physically make you ill. Going rancid is a step prior to butter spoiling. Once it reaches the point of spoiling it will definitely make you physically sick. The best practice is to keep your butter refrigerated until just before it’s needed and then place back in the refrigerator. If you’d like your butter soft it’s fine to remove it from the refrigerator a few hours prior to needing it to allow it to soften and reach room temperature. This is the ideal solution for a dinner party for instance.
The Butter Bell Crock is a unique way to keep butter fresh for the longest period possible. They claim butter can be kept fresh for up to 30 days with their clever design. Conventional crocks will only keep butter fresh for half as long. The trick to the Butter Bell Crock is keeping the butter completely sealed from air exposure with water. You place your softened butter in the “bell” of the crock and some water in the bottom of the crock. When the “bell” is placed into the crock the water will seal the rim of the bell and prevent any air from getting at the butter.
While being able to keep butter out of the refrigerator indefinitely for soft and spreadable delight would be ideal, it’s not a reality. It is a dairy product after all. It will eventually go bad. The best practice is to keep your butter in the refrigerator and pull it out a few hours prior to needing it if you want nice soft butter.
Butter will keep just fine overnight so there really aren’t any concerns if you wake up one morning and find you forgot to put the butter back in the fridge from the previous evening.
If you want to maximize the life of your butter outside of the refrigerator you’ll want to use a butter crock that protects the butter from both light and air. A good butter crock can keep butter fresh outside of the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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