How to Store Butter Long Term

How to Store Butter Long Term

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Storing butter long-term is a challenge for many households. Butter is a perishable dairy product and exposure to air, light, and heat can cause it to spoil or become rancid quickly. One of the biggest questions we must ask ourselves is how we define long-term. We can’t store butter as long as you may think. Here are some tips on how to store butter long-term:

Choose the Right Type of Butter

The first step to storing butter long-term is to choose the right type of butter. Not all butter is created equal, and some types are more prone to spoiling than others. Unsalted butter is more perishable than salted butter, so if you want to store your butter for a long time, choose salted butter.

How to Store Butter Long Term

Wrap Butter Properly

The next step is to wrap your butter properly. The best way to wrap butter is by using wax paper or parchment paper. You should avoid using plastic wrap as it doesn’t allow the butter to breathe. I personally store my butter in its original packaging. When I see it go on sale I buy as many as my budget allows.

When I get home I place them in the freezer for future use. I realize people may say, “What if the power goes out?” I get it. But the odds are in our favor that more often than not we’ll have power.

You can also use a butter keeper or butter dish to store butter. These containers are designed to keep butter fresh and cool while preventing it from absorbing odors from the fridge or freezer. These are what I use for everyday care in the kitchen, Butter Bell

Butter Bell

Store Butter in the Fridge

The fridge is the best place to store butter short term. Keeping butter in the fridge will help it last for up to four months. You should avoid storing the butter in the fridge door as it’s the warmest part of the fridge.

Freeze Butter

If you want to store butter for longer periods, freezing is the best option. When storing the butter in the freezer, you should wrap it tightly in cling film or wax paper. You can also use an airtight container to store butter in the freezer. I stated above I store it in the original packaging.

Butter in the Freezer

Thaw Butter Properly

When you’re ready to use frozen butter, thaw it in the fridge rather than at room temperature. Thawing butter at room temperature can cause it to melt and become unusable. You should also avoid thawing butter in the microwave as it can cause the butter to cook and become oily.

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Choose a Suitable Container

The container you choose to store butter in can affect its shelf life. If you’re storing the butter in a butter keeper or a butter dish, make sure that the container is airtight to prevent air from getting in. Otherwise, oxygen can cause the butter to spoil or become rancid. We have so many options now, compared to years ago.

Avoid Exposure to Light and Heat

Butter should be stored in a cool, dark place away from light and heat. Heat can cause the butter to melt, while light can cause the butter to go rancid. You should avoid storing butter near windows or on top of the fridge as these areas can get warm.

Use Butter Regularly

Even with proper storage, butter can go bad if it’s not used regularly. You should use butter within four months if it’s stored in the fridge and six months if it’s stored in the freezer. If you have a large amount of butter that you won’t use within these timeframes, you should consider donating it to a local food bank or shelter.

How do you store butter long-term without refrigeration?

Storing butter long-term without refrigeration can be tricky, as butter is a perishable food item that can spoil quickly if exposed to the wrong conditions. However, it is possible to store butter without refrigeration using one of the methods outlined below:

Butter Bell

A butter bell is a crock-style dish that keeps butter fresh and spreadable at all times. The butter bell consists of two parts – a base and a lid. The base is filled with water, while the lid holds the butter. To use a butter bell, you first soften the butter, then pack it into the top. You then invert the lid and place it into the base, which is filled with water. The water acts as a seal, preventing bacteria and air from reaching the butter. You can leave the butter bell out on the counter and change the water every few days to keep the butter fresh.


This is a form of clarified butter that is commonly used in Indian cooking. Ghee is created by simmering butter for an extended period, causing the water to evaporate and the milk solids to separate. The remaining liquid is then strained and cooled, creating a golden, nutty-tasting fat that can be used in place of butter. Ghee has a longer shelf life than butter and can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several months.

Preservation Methods

There are several methods for preserving butter without refrigeration, including salting, smoking, and fermenting. These methods are more commonly used in traditional societies where refrigeration is not readily available. For example, in Norway, a method called “røkt smør” or “smoked butter” is used to preserve butter. In this method, the butter is melted, strained, and then slowly smoked over low heat until it is infused with a smoky flavor. The smoked butter is then stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container for several months.

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Some Options For Extended Periods

Preppers prepare for emergencies or disasters and often look for ways to store food that will last for an extended period without refrigeration. When it comes to butter, preppers typically use several methods to ensure that they have a long-lasting supply on hand. These methods include:

Powdered Butter

Powdered butter is another common option for preppers. It is made by removing the water from the butter and then grinding it into a fine powder. Powdered butter can be rehydrated with water to make spreadable butter or used as an ingredient in recipes. Powdered butter can be stored for up to 5-10 years if properly packaged and kept in a cool, dry place. Every brand is different, so check the dates.

I must say I haven’t tried any brand of powdered butter I can recommend for mixing up and spreading on a piece of bread. Baking is fine, but the smell of that butter makes me gag. Just giving you the heads up here. Just spread some jam on your bread and skip the powdered butter.

It’s frustrating for me to buy some powdered butter that has such a short shelf life and some #10 cans of powdered butter cost over $45.00. Not buying it, nope.

Commercially Canned Butter

I highly recommend this brand of canned butter for your food storage: Red Feather PURE CANNED BUTTER This butter is our only option for long-term butter that is shelf-stable. Everything I have researched about Red Feather Canned Butter tells me the shelf life is two years. I have heard it lasts 20 years but I can’t find any proof of that shelf life in terms of years.

Is it Dangerous to Can Butter at Home?

You may see people ‘canning” butter in the oven, using a pressure cooker, or water bath canner, It isn’t safe to do this. Sometimes people boast that they are rebel canners, I wish them the best of luck that they stay out of the Emergency Room.

This is a statement I was given from the USU Extension Service on a sheet of paper listing food to NOT store:

“Home Canned Butter, especially unsalted butter, has NO protection from botulism. Salted home canned butter has no science-based process to can it safely. Heating the jars does sterilize them, but it will NOT kill any botulism spores. When you remove the oxygen from the jar, it allows for the potential growth of botulism spores.” In case you missed this post, Four Things That Are Not Safe To Can At Home

Final Word

Storing butter long-term requires proper storage and handling. Choosing the right type of butter, wrapping it properly, using suitable containers, avoiding exposure to light and heat, and thawing butter properly are all essential for storing butter long-term and then properly using it timely. By following these tips, you can store butter for an extended period without worrying about spoilage or rancidity. Do you have any tips for those learning how to store butter long-term? May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. I’ve tried Red Feather butter at 6yrs. It’s not as rich as regular butter but good. I’ll look and see what dates I’ve got and if I can test a longer time.
    It got hard to find during covid.

    1. HI Matt, yes it was hard to find during Covid. It’s all over the internet now, but very expensive, but what isn’t expensive, right? Good to know at 6 years it’s still good, Linda. I will check mine when we get ours out of the storage units.

  2. I have a lot of Red Feather butter. I keep it for emergencies. I hope that is is still good. I should probably try it. I think I have powdered butter too, but just the thought turns my stomach. I would use it for baking, though.

    1. Hi Janet, I have some cans of Red Feather Butter, I hope to order some more. I will use the powdered butter for baking as well, I can still smell it….it turns my stomach as well! LOL! I remember on one website that said their powdered butter tasted like Land O’Lakes!! LOL! I gagged on it. C’mon, let’s get real. LOL! Linda

  3. I received a can of Golden Churn Creamery Butter from a friend from New Zealand. I had never heard of it before. Based on the processing date and the expiration date it has about 2 year shelf life. I have not opened it yet, thought I would open it closer to the expiration date of May 2024, maybe 6 months away.

  4. Thank you for stating canning butter is not safe because I have seen FB members that promote that option, which is concerning. I buy large containers of ghee and they store amazingly well for several years. Our Costco had them for awhile but I am sure there are many locations that have ghee.

    1. Hi Am, I will have to check out Costco next time, thank you for the heads up on that. It’s too bad some people post how to “can” things the way their grandma did, well, it’s not safe these days, in most cases. When I took classes to get my Master Canning and Preserving Certificate, (I had been canning for 50 years when I took the classes) but I learned a lot. Our food has changed BIG time. Depending on the seeds it may be GMO seeds and the acidity is not high enough so we have to add lemon juice. I shudder when I see canning books that do not show safe methods of canning. I can only recommend the Ball Canning Guide and the USDA Canning Guide. I pray people understand they must follow guidelines to be safe or they may suffer huge consequences. Linda

  5. Linda,
    Freezing or powdered is the only way Jane and I store butter long term. We rarely have less than 10 pounds in the freezer and often 20 or more. I’m with you on the powdered butter and the Red Feather, but the latter is too expensive. Between solar and our backup gennie we’re good against any power outage not caused by an EMP or Carrington event, and if those should occur we’ll have more to worry about than butter.

    1. Hi Ray, oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment, “We’ll have more to worry about than butter”, you stated what I have been trying to convey to my readers. We must live for today because when things get worse butter will be the least of our worries, well said. Linda

  6. Love your article. I freeze a lot of butter when it is on sale and I buy a lot but we go through a lot of butter in my home. I will NOT use Margarine. I did until a friend of mine suggested I do a science experiment with my youngest son. She said to let both a stick of margarine and a stick of butter on 2 different plates and let them sit for 3 days in our garage to see what happened. What happened was the flies would devour the butter but they would not touch it. Any fly that did try the margarine died in only 2-3 hours. There is something that is in margarine that is not good for you. I took and threw out all the margarine I had (although I wish I had used it for killing the flies) and never bought it again. I will only use butter and we like buying the fancy butters we find in the store. Especially the big roll of Amish Butter.

    1. Hi Jackie, great comment, I love the experiment you did!! LOL! Wow, I only buy butter, I haven’t bought margarine in years. The flies….Wow! Linda

  7. It’s good to know that powdered butter can be stored for up to 10 years. I really want to start working on my food storage, and it seems like powdered butter would be a good thing to keep on hand. I’ll look online to see if I can purchase this from a reliable website.

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