Butter is one of the longer lasting dairy products, usually staying fresh up to around four months in the fridge.
However, sometimes you need to keep some for longer – perhaps you took advantage of an offer at the store and bought extra. If you’ve got some that you need to keep for the long term, you’ll be asking:
Can you freeze butter?
Not only is butter suitable for the freezer, it’s a pretty simple process too. Not only that, but – unlike other dairy products – the quality of butter isn’t affected much by the freezing process.
Read on to find out how to freeze butter, how long it will last in the freezer, how to properly thaw it and other ways it can be stored.
How Do You Freeze Butter?
Butter can, handily, be frozen as is once you’ve bought it. It can be as simple as placing the pack you bought from the store straight into the freezer – this also removes the need to label the butter, plus the “use by” date will be on there.
Some packs may even give an indication of how long your butter will last in the freezer.
All that being said, it’s a good idea to place the pack inside a freezer bag as well so as to lower the risk of the butter getting freezer burn.
It can also be useful to cut the butter into smaller portions before you freeze it, especially if you have a larger block of it to begin with. This means you can just grab as much as you need each time, rather than trying to cut into a frozen block of butter.
If you do cut the butter into portions, be sure to individually wrap each one in some aluminum foil. Furthermore, if you intend on keeping the butter for an extended period of time, it’s best to place the wrapped pieces into a freezer bag.
Freezing will not revive butter that has already lost its freshness. As such, if you are going to freeze it, try to put it in your freezer while it’s still fresh – so, not long after you’ve bought it.
How Long Will Butter Last In The Freezer?
It’s difficult to outline a clear timeframe for how long butter will last in the freezer as this can vary. Different brands make different claims, so it can tough to know where you stand.
However, a good rule of thumb to stick by is that salted butter will stay fresh up to a year in the freezer, while unsalted butter will last six months.
The butter will still be safe to eat and use after these points, but it’s more likely to suffer freezer burn the longer it’s kept frozen.
As a general rule, the longer butter is kept in the freezer for, the more it will gradually degrade and begin to lose a bit of taste. This, however, does take several months.
How To Use Frozen Butter
In most cases, if you’re going to use frozen butter then you’ll need to thaw it out first.
The simplest and most effective way of doing this is placing your frozen butter in the fridge and leaving it to thaw overnight, so it’s best to plan ahead when you can.
Of course, that’s not always possible and you might not have the time to thaw it for 8 hours or so.
Instead, you can thaw the butter in the microwave using its defrost setting, or placing it in there on a lower setting for roughly 20 seconds, checking to see once it has thawed but not melted.
Another method you can use is to split off smaller portions from your frozen butter so they’ll thaw quicker. If you only need a couple of slices, cut these off and leave at room temperature for 10-20 minutes and they’ll be usable.
Alternatively, you can use a large holed grater to grate some of the butter off from the main block, and these pieces will thaw quickly to be used.
If your recipe requires melted butter, you don’t need to thaw it first – you can add it straight to the pan, stove or microwave. This is useful for dishes like a stir fry or scrambled eggs.
Other Ways To Store Butter
As a dairy product, you might think it safe to assume that butter should only be stored in the fridge.
While this is certainly the best way to store it, because of its high fat and low water content, butter can also be stored at room temperature – but only for a few days.
To make the most of your butter, it’s best to keep it refrigerated and to keep an eye on the “use by” date.
However, butter can sometimes become a bit too cold in the fridge and become difficult to spread. For a softer stick of butter, keep it in a butter dish at room temperature.
Ensure that it’s away from heat and light, and minimize the amount of exposure to air – this is why a butter dish is preferable.
If you’re keeping your butter at room temperature, make sure it’s only for a few days and always check for signs of spoilage (an off smell, mold, an off taste). If these occur, throw it out.
In Conclusion: Freezing Butter
Butter is relatively easy to freeze and retains most of its quality and taste when thawed out, so freezing it is a great way of extending its usage.
It will need to be wrapped – either in its original packaging or some foil – before going into the freezer and will generally last for at least four months, though will remain safe to eat beyond that.
When you need to use frozen butter, unless it needs to be melted you’ll have to thaw it out first, either in the fridge overnight or in the microwave.