I can’t imagine anyone holding onto a jar of peanut butter long enough to question if it’s still good. However, if you’ve found one that escaped your attention, I’ve got a few answers to your questions!
Does peanut butter go bad? And how long is peanut butter good for? You’re in luck because peanut butter is pretty forgiving when it comes to shelf life. But not all jars are created equal.
Whether you’re a fan of the creamy classic or lean towards the all-natural, understanding the shelf life of your favorite spread can save you from a disappointing breakfast.
So, how do you keep your peanut butter tasting as fresh as the day you bought it? And what are the signs that it’s time to part ways with that neglected jar in the back of your pantry? Stick with me, and you’ll become a peanut butter storage pro in no time.
The Shelf Life Of Peanut Butter
Let’s break down how long you can expect your peanut butter to last, depending on how you store it.
|Storage Method||Shelf Life||Notes|
|Regular Peanut Butter|
|Unopened in Pantry||Up to 9 months||Store in a cool, dry place|
|Opened in Pantry||Up to 3 months||Best used within a few months|
|Opened in Fridge||Up to 9 months||Extends shelf life; may harden slightly|
|Natural Peanut Butter|
|Unopened in Fridge||Up to 6 months||Requires refrigeration due to lack of stabilizers|
|Opened in Fridge||Up to 6 months||Stir before use; oil separation is normal|
Both smooth and crunchy varieties generally have the same shelf life, whether you’re talking about conventional or natural types. The texture doesn’t really affect how long the peanut butter will last because it’s more about the ingredients and how you store it.
After you’ve checked out the table, you might wonder how to spot peanut butter past its prime. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Check out our other article, “How to Tell if Peanut Butter is Bad,” for all the telltale signs of spoilage.
Does Peanut Butter Go Bad?
Yes, peanut butter can definitely go off, but it’s a slow mover on the spoilage front. Keep an eye out for the usual suspects: mold, a funky smell, or a texture that’s just not right. If you spot any of these, it’s time to say goodbye to that jar.
Peanut butter’s pretty resilient when it comes to bacteria, but that can change real quick if you’re double-dipping with a dirty spoon or dropping crumbs in there.
Do that, and you’re basically rolling out the welcome mat for bacteria and mold. This is especially true for those natural peanut butters that don’t have preservatives.
And let’s not forget about the fats and oils. When they go south, you’ll know it. The smell turns sharp, and the color might even change. Eating rancid stuff isn’t just a flavor fail but also a health no-no because those fatty acids start to break down.
As for keeping your peanut butter in tip-top shape, think location, location, location. A cool, dry spot is your best bet. But the fridge is your friend if you live in a humid place. And remember, always go in with a clean utensil to keep that jar as fresh as possible.
Does Peanut Butter Need to Be Refrigerated?
Where you stash your peanut butter depends on what kind you’ve got. Your run-of-the-mill, store-bought peanut butter? That’s pantry material all the way. It’s got stabilizers like palm oil that make it a long-hauler.
The fridge is where it’s at for natural peanut butter and almond butter lovers. Without those stabilizers, these jars are prone to oil separation and going off quickly. A little chill time keeps it all together.
But fair warning, it’ll firm up in there. So, if you’re planning on spreading it, let it warm up on the counter for a bit.
How Long Is Peanut Butter Good for After Opening?
Once you’ve cracked open that jar of peanut butter, the clock starts ticking. Conventional peanut butter lasts about 2-3 months in the pantry after opening. If you’re a slowpoke when it comes to finishing a jar, storing opened peanut butter in the fridge can extend its life a month or two beyond that.
Natural peanut butter has a different story. After opening, it’s best to consume it within 3-4 months if stored in the fridge. The absence of stabilizers like palm oil means natural peanut butter has a much shorter shelf life, so it’s best to keep tabs on how long it’s been sitting around.
How Long Does Peanut Butter Last Unopened?
Regular unopened peanut butter can sit in your pantry for up to 9 months, making it a great item to stock up on.
Natural peanut butter has a shorter lifespan. Even unopened, it’s best to consume it within 6 months. So, if you’re a fan of the natural stuff, buying smaller jars that you’ll use up more quickly is best.
The type of container also matters. Peanut butter stored in a glass jar tends to last longer than those in plastic containers. Glass is less permeable than plastic, which means it’s better at keeping out moisture and odors that can spoil your peanut butter.
And you should always check the expiration date on the jar before purchasing. While peanut butter is generally a long-lasting pantry item, you might end up with an old jar that wasn’t rotated properly.
Peanut Butter FAQs
Are You Supposed to Refrigerate Peanut Butter?
Refrigeration is optional for conventional peanut butter, but I always recommend it for natural types of peanut butter.
How Long Can Peanut Butter Sit Out?
Regular peanut butter can sit out in the pantry for up to 3 months after opening. Natural peanut butter should be consumed more quickly, ideally within a few weeks if not refrigerated. Always check for signs of spoilage, like mold or a rancid smell.
What to Do with Expired Peanut Butter?
While it may still be edible, for safety’s sake, it’s best to toss it in favor of a new jar.