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Aug 16, 2009 09:57 AM

Does butter go bad?

I just put a new stick of butter in my butter dish that had an expiration of August 14th (2 days ago) on the box. It looked, smelled and tasted fine to me. Here's my question - if refrigerated and kept in a butter dish, does butter go bad? What's a rule of thumb about how long you can keep butter?

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  1. When the colour goes off and it smells rancid, your butter's gone bad. Butter should be kept in the freezer, by the way. I don't understand why grocery stores and consumers store butter in the fridge.

    6 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      <Butter should be kept in the freezer, by the way. I don't understand why grocery stores and consumers store butter in the fridge.>

      I do. So you can cut it with a butter knife.

      1. re: small h

        Holy teachings about butter, passed down for generations:
        Generally speaking, the product that is sold as "unsalted butter" is fresher than "salted butter" and so will last longer. Keep quantities of butter in the freezer; keep the stick you are currently using in the fridge (taste is best if you use the butter within a few days or perhaps a week after unwrapping -- the butter actually tastes fresher and most us have a discerning enough palate to tell the difference -- though the butter is not yet rancid). Some people prefer very soft butter and keep it on the counter; this is a fine practice for someone who will use the butter quickly (perhaps within a day). These are the butter commandments, as passed down to me.

        1. re: lifespan

          Good advice. I now have the butter in the freezer that I am not using. I have the butter I AM using in a butter dish - so it is fresh. Good advice - thanks!!

          1. re: lifespan

            I have kept butter at room temperature for days and days and it still tasted the same. And I mean I have tasted it straight up on my finger - there is no question in my mind that it was still good. I don't make my own butter but I do buy locally made butter.

            I do keep butter in a butter keeper (or butter bell) to keep it out of sunlight and oxygen once it is on the counter. And I agree that one should keep butter in the freezer before it goes on the counter.

            If it doesn't taste bad, I eat it, regardless of expiration date, lol.

        2. re: SnackHappy

          I have seen butter become a darker shade and get a sour taste, which of course means time to chuck it. But in general, until the the butter shows such signs of age, I keep it. Usually, this means I keep it a week or 2 beyond the expiration date.

          1. re: SnackHappy

            For long term storage? Yeah, keep it in the freezer.

            Otherwise? No reason to.

          2. yes, butter can go bad, but it doesn't usually have an expiration date, rather a 'sell by" date. The two are very different. If you want to keep butter longer, freeze it.

            I buy my butter 4 lbs at a time, chuck it all in the freezer, and just take out a stick as needed. Never had a problem.

            Believe me, if your butter goes rancid, you will know it.

            1. I just pulled two boxes of butter out of the back of the fridge. I keep my fridge on the cold side. One box was 15 months past best by date and one was 9. They both showed a slight pale color, but smelled fine. The 15 mo. had a slight stale taste so I pitched it, but the 9 mo. past best by date tasted like butter.

              1. Being disabled it's hard to get to frig and back, so my butter is kept on shelf beside my bed along with toaster and bread so that I can make a slice of toast to eat for breakfast. It's been here and me using it since last year. And no it's not cold in my room but hot. Same with Ketchup and mustered. I just never knew ant of that stuff goes bad. It's always tasted the same to me.

                1. We keep butter out in a butter keeper 2 or 3 days. We use it up pretty fast. Keep the unused sticks in the frig, but we will use a 4 stick pound in a little over a week. We don't eat margarine.