Does butter expire?

Butter is a commonly consumed food that, always in moderate amounts, is healthy due to its contribution of vitamins and minerals. It is not usually lacking in any fridge and it is taken both alone, in sandwiches and toast, as well as including it in multiple recipes, especially confectionery. To keep it in good condition, butter must be kept under specific conditions, mainly cold, but there are many doubts as to whether or not it should be eaten after its best-before date. If you do not take it daily (as it should be) you may wonder if it will be good or not when you take it from the fridge, after several days or a few weeks. Don’t worry, because in this article we clear up the question of whether butter expires or not.

Does butter expire or not?

This is a controversial issue because, first of all, it is necessary to differentiate between what is an expiration date and a best-before date, which is the one that appears on most packages in which pasteurized cow butter is sold. As indicated by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) [1], foods should not be consumed after the expiration date, but those of preferential consumption can be eaten for a certain time as long as they have not been opened, that they are not shown deterioration in their packaging and that the conservation conditions have been respected.

It must be remembered that butter is a dairy derivative but, unlike milk or yogurt, it has a low lactose content in its composition and, on the other hand, a high percentage of fat, not less than 80%. This fat, which is a natural preservative, helps the butter to remain in good condition for a long time.

In summary, it can be said that butter does not expire once the date marked on its packaging has expired because it is a best-before date, although, of course, it can spoil due to poor conservation and also end up deteriorating if we talk about long periods of time.

How do you know if butter is bad?

Following the instructions regarding the storage and conservation of butter is the best way to guarantee its good condition. To know if the butter is good or bad, you must look at the properties of the food itself, specifically with regard to its color, smell, and texture.

The fat content of butter means that the attack of microorganisms that generate mold in it is not frequent, but it is something that can happen. If you detect this situation, it clearly reveals that the butter is bad and you should throw it away. On other occasions, knowing if it is bad is not so simple. If you have doubts about whether to take it or not, some clues that you should keep in mind are:

Color changes: if when you cut a square you see a clear contrast between the inside and the outside, that butter may have gone bad. An abnormally pale color (almost white) or, on the contrary, dark brownish, are also signs that warn of a possible poor condition.

Rancid smell: it is an easy sign to recognize because this particular smell is produced by the oxidation process of fats, which are no longer in good condition for consumption.

The texture: butter that does not have, in the refrigerator, a firm texture, one that appears undone, even with liquid parts, or one that is abnormally hard and dry, eventually cracking, may not be suitable for consumption.

Can you eat expired butter?

Yes, you can eat expired butter if we understand by ‘expired’ that the best-before date has passed . In this sense, this date is important to know when the butter expires because, logically, after that date, the product will begin to lose its good properties, even though you can take it for a certain time.

Butter in general is a long-lasting product, as is usually indicated by its best-before dates, which give a minimum margin of 6-8 months. In these cases, as long as it is stored correctly, you could extend the date and eat the “expired” butter for another 1 or 2 months, although you should remember three tips:

  • When you buy butter, make sure that the best-before date is as far away as possible from the date of purchase, in order to guarantee maximum duration in optimal conditions.
  • Apply common sense and observe the state of the butter (smell, color, and texture) the moment you go to take it. When in doubt, do not risk it, throw it away.
  • We are talking about industrial (pasteurized) cow’s butter, not homemade butter or any other type of butter.

How to preserve butter

Keeping butter in good condition for a long time is easy by protecting it from external factors that cause its deterioration, which is: light, heat, sudden changes in temperature, and air, which favor the oxidation of its fats.

Butter is not spoiled by having it out of the fridge for a while or even a couple of hours to make it easier to spread or to be able to use it in a cooking recipe, as long as the room temperature is not excessively high and we put it in a place protected from light and air.

Once used, the best way to keep it is in the refrigerator at a temperature that does not exceed 8ºC (or below 0ºC unless you want to freeze it). It should always be covered with some paper or protective film, although the ideal is to put it in a glass or crockery container with a lid (butter dish) to avoid air and contact with other foods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *