If You Store Butter On The Counter, You Need To Read This

Should you leave butter on the counter? Some folks store their butter in the fridge. Others put their golden bars on the tabletop. But does it matter? The answer may surprise you.

Is Butter Safe On The Counter? You Butter Believe it! 

The cold butter, warm toast situation is a breakfast conundrum. Room temperature butter makes for an agreeable breakfast routine. But is it safe? In contrast, frigid butter is a pain to spread. It often leaves your toast crumbly and makes a mess. 

The counter butter enthusiasts will be happy to know that butter and margarine are safe at room temperature, according to the USDA. But, before you utter the words, “I told you so,” there are a few safety guidelines to consider before you happily butter your morning toast. 

Spread The News: This Is Why Butter Can Be Left On The Counter

(Sorin Gheorghita/Unsplash)

Since butter is pasteurized, it lowers bacteria numbers in the cream to safer levels. Once butter is produced, its physical attributes protect it even more.

According to StateFoodSafety, butter consists of 80% fat and 20% water. During the churning process, the water molecules are separated and surrounded by fat, helping to create a physical barrier against bacterial growth. This meaning, it’s totally safe to leave out.

You Butter Follow These Counter Safety Tips

Even though the USDA has deemed butter safe at room temperature, they’ve also warned that it can turn rancid after several days. Therefore, they recommend that enthusiasts of the counter storing method don’t leave the butter out for more than one to two days. 

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The National Dairy Council’s Dairy Good website goes into further detail explaining that it truly depends on the type of butter and the temperature of your kitchen. 

For example, if you’re a fan of the salted butter varieties, you’re in luck. According to the National Dairy Council, salted butter is far less likely to go rancid on the counter than unsalted butter. However, we still recommend following the USDA recommendations. 

But alas, the National Dairy Council has regretful news for unsalted butter lovers. Unsalted butter is not the best candidate for life outside of the fridge, as it’s more prone to going rancid. 

Image of cubed butter in a clear bowl.
(Sorin Gheorghita/Unsplash)

There Can Be A Margarine Of Error

Even when you’ve followed the USDA butter storing recommendations, there are still other factors to consider. For example, StateFoodSafety notes that butter can easily be contaminated since it’s a TCS food, which means it’s vulnerable to bacterial growth and containing more moisture.

And even though butter is pasteurized, it’s not immune to bacterial growth if potentially hazardous food particles find their way into the butter dish. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid cross-contamination with a dedicated butter spreader. 

Also, if you’re thinking of storing butter on the counter, know that air is not its friend, as it speeds up the oxidation process. So instead, safely keep your butter in a French butter dish. 

And lastly, contact with light oxidizes the fat in the butter, which leads to it going rancid. So take our advice and avoid the translucent butter crocks and see-through dishes.

Oh, Butter! How To Tell If Your Butter Is Rancid

Luckilly, rancid butter won’t be challenging to detect. More than likely, your nose will sense an off-putting smell before you even get a chance to experience its sour, bitter flavor. It will also appear more brown than yellow over time. 

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Image of butter spread on toast.
(Crazy Cake/Unsplash)

Bottom Line, It’s Butter This Way

If you’re in doubt, storing butter on the counter may seem too much of a slippery, buttery slope when it comes to food safety. Therefore, keeping butter in the refrigerator is your safest bet, but your toast will suffer the consequences.

Yet, for those feeling like a culinary daredevil, it’s okay to forgo the fridge. When butter is properly stored on the counter following USDA recommendations, room temperature butter is considered safe for consumption. So go ahead and enjoy that rich, smooth butter. 

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