Yikes! I found 2.5 year-old butter, 4 pounds of it, at the bottom of my freezer. IF it tastes ok, which I doubt, is it safe to use?

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20 Comments

Food P. October 16, 2014
Im a health inspector. If its been frozen the whole time and well wrapped, it will be fine, its just fat after all. Its perfectly safe to eat and nothing will "grow in it". Give it a taste: taste like butter?, your good to go. The only thing that might put it off is if its picked up funky freezer flavours, like if it was stored right next to some fish or something.
 
Jean B. October 9, 2014
I very much appreciate all of your input. As a Libra, I can typically see both sides of any question. Today I called Land O' Lakes who went with about 4 months for freezer storage. They did say that it would still be safe, but that the quality would be seriously diminished, which we all know. Interestingly, I am not even in the running for longest butter keeper, as folks have asked about butter as old as 7 years! Apparently, I have kindred spirits when it comes to butter storage. Perhaps there is a club for cheapskates like me. Oh, and the birders that I know, did say that rolled in seed, I could give it to my feathered friends this winter, in the same way as one would use suet. Thanks again for all of the advice. Our garbage is collected on Mondays, so I shall have time to say my 'good-byes'.
 
Susan W. October 9, 2014
I feel your pain. I HATE throwing food away.
 
Food O. October 9, 2014
When in doubt, throw it out. Not worth someone getting sick.
 
Sam1148 October 9, 2014
I'd simmer it and strain it and make a big jar of "Ghee".
As long as it didn't pick up any freezer stink..it should be okay for Ghee. And Ghee was wonderful.
 
ChezHenry October 9, 2014
Throw it out. Taste is not an indicator of spoiled food-its bad advice to "taste" things you believe may be spoiled. 6-9 months is the recommended shelf life for butter in the freezer. You are 3-5 times that! No food should be eaten after 2.5 years in your freezer. You didnt miss it for 2 1/2 years, you wont miss it when its tossed in the garbage.

Do not eat this.
 
Susan W. October 9, 2014
I agree and freezing doesn't stop bacteria, it just slows it. Plus..why add something that doesn't taste pristine to any food. It's like cooking with bad wine.
 
amysarah October 9, 2014
As has been noted, as long as it smells and tastes okay, I'd consider it buried treasure. Maybe use it to make ghee - it makes everything delicious and will extend its life even further (the gift that keeps on giving!)
 
trampledbygeese October 9, 2014
The important thing is, if you are uncomfortable with it in any way, don't eat it!

Though personally, if the freezer has been running properly the whole time - no long power outages, thaws, &c. Then it should be fine. Butter, especially salted butter, is unlikely to grow invisible nasties (bacteria, &c). It doesn't mean it absolutely won't, but the environment in butter (low moisture, high fat, salt) is unfriendly to harmful bacteria. Add freezing to it, and it's unlikely to be harmful. (notice how I'm qualifying my answer here?).

The big problem would be if it went rancid or not. That would taste unpleasant.

One option is to clarify the butter like for making ghee. That's what I would do with ancient frozen butter.

4 pounds is a lot of butter to just toss, but then again, it's your butter, your health, you have to feel comfortable with it.
 
Liza's K. October 9, 2014
As long as you haven't had any prolonged power outages and it was wrapped well (sometimes butter takes on the smell of the things around it) I'd use it.
 
ChefJune October 9, 2014
the cookies you make with it will never know the difference. ;)
 
dinner A. October 9, 2014
If it does taste a little stale, making brown butter out of it might cover up or cook off the stale flavor.
 
dinner A. October 9, 2014
I agree with Michele and cookbookchick, if it tastes ok it's fine. Nothing will grow in it at the -10 to -20C temperatures of a freezer, it just might pick up off odors from the freezer.
 
cookbookchick October 9, 2014
As Michelle says, use it for cooking.
 

Voted the Best Reply!

Michele October 9, 2014
While it may not be as creamy or fresh to slather on bread I am sure it will be perfect for cooking. Instead of sautéing vegetables with oil use butter, put under skin of chicken, use it for mashed potatoes and if it has a flavor add some sour cream.
 
cookbookchick October 9, 2014
It's butter - it will be fine! If it tastes okay, I would use it.
 
Declan October 9, 2014
How's your Med insurance? Don't even think about!
 
Susan W. October 8, 2014
Yikes is right. That's got to be some kind of record. Freezing doesn't stop the expiration of food, it just slows it down. I would toss it and not even taste it. Unsalted butter can be frozen for 5-6 months, salted butter for 9. After that, the quality diminishes.
 
Susan W. October 8, 2014
I'm laughing at myself because I thought your post said 25 years, not 2.5. I would probably still toss it, but you can put your hazmat suit away. :)
 
CarlaCooks October 18, 2014
My mother-in-law (bless her little pea brain) has many tinned items in her pantry that expired in the 80s. We're talking about tinned oysters that are nearing their 30th anniversary of expiration. There's a reason my husband and I insist on grocery shopping and doing all of the cooking when we visit!
 
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