rancidity: butter

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 30, 2011 at 8:17 PM

How can one tell if butter is rancid? I have been in the habit of leaving my culture butter out in a jar(in which I put it) for a week and this at room temperature and above. It has not changed colour but has a mealy, 'particalized' taste that is definitely not the same as when purchased. What is the best policy where storing butter is a necessity and one has no fridge(I only have a freezer at present). I should also mention that I had previously frozen the butter but its taste was more similar to when purchased(after being thawed) than after leaving it out under these temperature conditions. Should I continue to consume the butter after leaving it out for so long?


on October 15, 2011
at 02:35 AM

I very rarely use butter so I keep mine in the freezer at all times, and just hack off what I need when I need it. Wrapped up tight it doesn't take on any freezer flavour and keeps its integrity. If you want to keep it out, I second a butter crock.

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8 Answers


on January 07, 2012
at 07:51 AM

Remember that rancidity is not spoilage. It's a chemical process by which unsaturated fatty acids oxidize, creating foul aromatic compounds. This process will happen faster at room temperature and with butter that is exposed to the outside air. You will notice that it just doesn't taste good, but not revoltingly bad. If you only have a freezer, keep smaller amounts of butter in your butter bell or crock, and freeze the rest until you use all of the unfrozen butter.


on October 01, 2011
at 02:21 AM

With cultured butter, I'm not sure. With "regular"/uncultured butter, I'd recommend just storing it in a butter bell (aka butter crock- like so http://www.butterbell.com/) - which keeps it dark and away from air.

If it doesn't taste the way it should, then probably chuck it.


on October 01, 2011
at 02:01 AM

If it tastes bad, don't consume it! Do you store your butter in a fairly cool place? That would be my recommendation-store it in a stoneware crock in the coolest place in your kitchen, and obviously don't purchase more than you can eat within a few days.


on January 07, 2012
at 07:28 PM

If it stinks, dont eat it. If it tastes bad, throw it out. And if you leave butter on the counter long enough, you will get to see what type of mold spores are in the air. Watch for black spots.



on January 07, 2012
at 07:16 PM

I have always kept my butter on the counter in a covered dish.

It will be fine a week or two. I can tell by a color change or smell that something is up. Alot though would depend on the temp in the room. Mine stays always around 70F, if it were to be abit warmer I think it might cut down on the time it would stay fresh...



on January 07, 2012
at 07:11 AM

You might want to look iunto a countertop butterkeeper...the water you keep around it keeps it fresh for weeks and keeps it at a spreadable temperature (but be sure to change the water every few days, otherwise you'll run in to freshness problems as well). They're available cheap from Amazon, or I've also occasionally seen them at Ross or other discount stores.



on January 07, 2012
at 07:06 AM

The nose knows! Years ago I had a roommate who left butter out on the counter for a good month before I could smell it go rancid, at which point it suddenly smelled so bad I couldn't have forced myself to eat it if I wanted too. So, don't worry, you will know.

I also once forgot about a butter bell of pastured butter in the back of a cupboard for 3 months, and when I finally got up the courage to open the darn thing to clean it out I was pleasantly surprised that it smelled exactly like Camembert cheese (but I was too scared to actually taste it).

We leave our butter out all the time, not even necessarily the pastured stuff either, and it seems to keep just fine, but then again we usually go through it in 3-4 days.


on December 24, 2011
at 05:46 AM

in my house of six a stick only last a day any way so we leave it out so it can spread. im the only paleo eater, my 4 year old son approves of my lifestyle change so i have hope of converting him. my daughters will copy my wife. i would trust my taste buds on the butter.

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