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How To Store Peanut Butter

Today, I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. As I was making my sandwich, I took a moment to really consider what I had previously learned about how to properly store peanut butter.

There is nothing more frustrating than going into the pantry and realizing that your peanut butter has gone bad. 

The good news is that it only takes a couple of important steps to store peanut butter properly.

This is jars of peanut butter.

A Few Notes About Peanut Butter

About Natural Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter is just a way of referencing peanut butter that doesn’t have preservatives or added ingredients. In most cases, it is just made up of peanuts, salt, and oil.

You may notice that natural peanut butter tends to have a layer of oil at the top. If you notice this layer of oil, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your peanut butter has gone bad. 

On the other hand, processed peanut butter most likely won’t have that layer of oil at the top. 

This is because it is made with peanuts, sugar, oil, and other additives. These additives help to prevent the peanut butter from separating and to give it a smoother texture.

How to store your peanut butter will vary based upon the type of peanut butter that you have on hand.

How To Know If Peanut Butter Is Still Good

Peanut butter should smell fresh and nutty. You should smell peanuts when you take a whiff. 

Good peanut butter should be creamy and soft. If it is natural peanut butter, there may be oil on top and if that is the case, give it a good stir. After stirring it, it should be creamy. 

Peanut butter should be a nice light tan color. It should not be crusty or dark brown.

There are a few ways to tell if peanut butter has gone bad.

  • The Smell: Peanut butter should have a nutty aroma. If it smells sour, rancid, or off, it has gone bad.
  • The Texture: Peanut butter should be smooth and creamy. If it is lumpy, separated, or moldy, it has gone bad.
  • The Color: Peanut butter should be a light brown color. If it is dark brown or black, it has gone bad.
This is peanut butter in a jar, peanut butter in a bowl, peanut butter on a slice of bread, and a bowl of peanuts.

Storing Unopened Peanut Butter

An important key to storing unopened peanut butter is to keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as your pantry or cabinet. If it is properly stored, it can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year past its expiration date. 

However, when you do open it, be sure to check that it is still good. Don’t just assume that because you stored it properly, that is fine to eat. Look for signs of spoilage, like bulging lids or a foul smell when you open it.

A step-by-step guide to store unopened peanut butter:

  1. Check the expiration date before storing.
  2. Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.
  3. Do not open until ready to use.

Storing Opened Peanut Butter

Once opened, processed peanut butter can stay fresh for about 3 months in the pantry. Natural peanut butter, once opened, should be consumed within 2-3 weeks if left in the pantry or 3-4 months if refrigerated.

Important Note: Always use a fresh and clean utensil to scoop out fresh peanut butter. 

Refrigeration: Yes or No?

Whether to refrigerate peanut butter or not depends on the type of peanut butter that you have. Natural peanut butter and homemade peanut butter are best stored in the refrigerator. 

Processed peanut butter doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator, but it doesn’t harm it to do so. The downside? It can make the peanut butter hard and difficult to spread.

Tips for Long-Term Storage

  • Use fresh, clean utensils to scoop out the peanut butter
  • Keep the lid tightly sealed
  • Refrigerate natural or homemade peanut butter
  • Consider freezing the peanut butter for long-term storage

The bottom line

Peanut butter is a favorite food for the young and the old. The love for this spread spans generations. It is super easy to store it and keep it on hand. The biggest tip is to keep it sealed and store it in a cool, dark place.

This is jars of peanut butter with peanuts in the background.