There is almost no child who doesn’t enjoy peanut butter and jelly or jam sandwiches. This delicious spread is a valuable ingredient in many other recipes as well. Still, you may wonder does peanut butter go bad if you keep it in a jar on the shelf for months and how long does peanut butter last. Let’s see.
Does Peanut Butter Go Bad?
Peanut butter is food with only 2 to 5% moisture and high oil content, which gives it extended shelf life. Although it can spoil eventually, it has a better chance of oxidizing if you don’t store it properly. That means it will become rancid and lose its quality over time.
Luckily, peanuts contain large doses of vitamin E, one of the natural antioxidants that slow down this process. In other words, peanut butter doesn’t spoil but instead changes its taste to the extent that it becomes unusable.
How Long Does Peanut Butter Last?
A commercial peanut butter’ shelf life is quite long. You can safely store it in your pantry even a year after the expiration date. The additives and stabilizers added to the butter allow keeping even the open jar in the pantry.
However, the shelf life is shorter if you buy natural, additive-free peanut butter that contains a minimum of 90% peanut. In that case, you should store it in the fridge once you open a jar.
Both kinds of spreads can stay in the fridge past its best before date. The difference is that natural butter is safe in the refrigerator for another six months, while a commercial product can last up to 18 months.
How Long Does Peanut Butter Last (Chart)
Peanut butter type
|Unopened commercial||One year|
12 to 18 months
|2 to 3 months||3 to 6 months|
|Opened commercial||3 to 4 months|
6 to 8 months
|Unsafe||4 to 6 months|
3 to 6 months
If you consume exclusively home-made peanut butter, you can store it between three and six months in the fridge. So, you will probably finish the whole jar before the rancidification process begins, and the spread loses its quality.
4 Tips to Tell if Peanut Butter Has Gone Bad
In rare cases, peanut butter can spoil. The cause is usually contamination with other foods leading to bacteria and fungi growth in the jar.
Such spread is not edible and can cause food poisoning. If you have a peanut butter jar that has been open for months, check for these four spoilage signs:
- Discoloration – If you notice your peanut butter becomes darker over time, maybe it is time to buy the new one. Once it spoils, the butter changes its color as a result of oxidation and mold infection.
- Unusual smell – Always sniff the jar before using the spread that stands for a long time. If you feel a bitter, rotten odor, throw it away immediately. The peanut butter safe to use always smells like peanuts. Any changes are a reason to doubt its quality, so you should avoid the risk.
- Weird taste – If you try peanut butter that seems suspicious, you can quickly determine if it is gone bad. Such a spread will leave an unpleasant feel on your tongue and will have an unusual taste. Avoid consuming large amounts of potentially unsafe spread to prevent digestive problems.
- Change in texture – If your butter separates, you can solve that problem by stirring it. However, the spread that has suddenly become stiff, lumpy, and dry is no longer edible, so you should throw it away.
6 Tips to Store Peanut Butter
A peanut butter jar is not something you can consume quickly. Since you want to maintain its specific taste for as long as possible, you should prevent the oxidation process that worsens it. Let’s see.
Close the lid
If you make a habit of tightly closing peanut butter as soon as you use it, you can significantly prolong its life and preserve its quality. A firmly closed lid delays the rancidification process and preserves peanut butter texture.
Otherwise, you will see dark-colored crust, which is unpleasant to eat, formed on the spread surface. Besides, you will prevent the butter from picking up the smell of other food stored in the fridge.
It is vital to always wash the butter knife and spoon before using peanut butter. Dust particles and bacteria from the air can contaminate the spread even if you take a visually clean utensil from the drawer.
Plus, it is not advisable to eat butter with a spoon that you take out of the jar. Since saliva transfers with a spoon, you can expect the peanut butter to spoil quickly.
The lower the peanut butter quality is, the more preservatives are necessary to keep it unchanged. Contrary, you can expect a quality spread to separate after a while.
The oil separates at the top of the jar while the solid nut part descends to the bottom. Check the butter before eating, and stir it with a spoon if you notice separation.
Turn a jar upside down
There is a convenient trick to prevent separation and stop the peanut butter from becoming too firm and difficult to spread on the bread, which is a common consequence of storing in the refrigerator.
Turn the jar upside down from time to time and leave it that way for a day or two. That allows the vegetable fats to be evenly distributed throughout the spread and preserves its texture.
Powdered peanut butter
If you don’t use peanut butter daily, you can consider switching to the powdered variant. In addition to containing fewer calories and fat, you can store it in a pantry almost forever. The powdered peanut butter tastes the same as the regular kind, but it won’t oxidize over time.
Freeze small dollops
There is no point in storing a small amount of peanut butter at the jar bottom. Be creative and freeze the small portion of spread in an ice cube tray or silicone mold for later use.
Once it is frozen, take it out and serve this delicious treat to your dog. Some dog owners add a banana or other yummy ingredients to the mixture depending on their pets’ taste.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Peanut Butter
As I have already mentioned, peanut butter can go rancid after a while. Then its taste changes, and it is not pleasant to consume. Such a butter won’t make you sick, but it is disgusting.
There are two cases where peanut butter can be potentially dangerous to health, regardless of whether it is expired or not. These are an allergic reaction and the consumption of low-quality butter that contains too many aflatoxins, which is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.
While most adults know if they suffer from allergies, including peanut butter in baby food always carries a risk. Many pediatricians suggest waiting for a baby to be one-year-old before trying this product. Even then, you need to monitor your toddler for signs of an allergic reaction like swelling, redness, and shortness of breath.
Can You Freeze Peanut Butter?
Freezing peanut butter is not complicated at all, and the spread will keep the same quality when you defrost it. Put the unopened jar in the freezer and wait for about six hours to freeze entirely. You can speed up the process by dividing the content into smaller portions.
Remember that you need to check if everything is fine during the first few days after freezing when butter is packed in a glass jar. In some cases, it can spread too much, so the jar will shatter. There is also a question of why to freeze the peanut butter when its shelf life is long enough, and you can use the whole jar before going bad.
Anyway, you can do it if you wish. Moreover, you can also freeze peanut butter leftovers when necessary but transfer them to an air-tight container. That way, you will prevent the excess air contaminates the spread.
It is an excellent and convenient idea to use an ice cubes tray to freeze peanut butter. That way, you can determine the exact amount of butter you need. Plus, it will take only 45 minutes for smaller portions to freeze.
The best way to thaw the peanut butter is to leave the jar in the fridge overnight. Don’t use the microwave because the oil heats up quickly, and it can ruin the butter taste. On the other hand, it will take only 20 minutes for small portions to thaw at room temperature.
Peanut butter can last a very long time in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Although it rarely breaks down, it can go rancid and change taste so much that it becomes unusable. Proper storage is the key to its long-lasting use.