Oh, butter! There's something so wonderfully magical about this item. Its spreadable quality makes it the ultimate partner for a toasty piece of bread or slathered atop a warm muffin. It also aids in perfect pastry perfections and meals galore! Because of its wide variety of uses, you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who can go without the use of butter.
As a child, you likely got scolded once or twice for unintentionally leaving the milk on the counter for a few hours, causing it to spoil and ruining the entire gallon. Obviously, this scenario isn’t something that occurs intentionally but, on average, most dairy products require refrigeration if not in use. Things such as cheese, yogurt, and cream follow the same pattern.
When it comes to butter, there seems to be a little discrepancy. In my house growing up, butter always was refrigerated unless it needed to sit out for some time to warm to room temperature. In my mother-in-law’s house, that’s completely opposite. She leaves her butter sitting in a dish on the counter.
It’s an age-old debate as to whether or not it is actually safe to consume butter that has been unrefrigerated for a period of time. Butter is, after all, comprised of milk so doesn't that make it fall into the category of constant refrigeration? Because this question has circulated for quite some time, food researchers decided to do a little investigating.
Before long, they determined the recommended amount of time that butter can stay unrefrigerated before it spoils. Needless to say, we were a little shocked. While it is a preference, you can leave the butter in a butter crock or a similar air-tight container for up to two weeks. Naturally, there are some rules to that limit.
The butter must be salted because this type of butter has a higher sodium content that aids in keeping bacteria at bay. If your kitchen temperature stays near 70 degrees, you must always refrigerate your butter no matter if it is salted or not, simply because the butter won’t be able to stay somewhat solidified at a temperature that high.
While the FDA hasn’t quite jumped on board with this logic, you can leave your butter out at your own risk. It all goes back to personal preference. Now that you know the limit, has that changed your mind about leaving it out or keeping it stored in the fridge?