The Dangerous Reason You Should Never Can Your Own Butter

There is a very long list of foods that are able to be canned at home, but butter is not one of them. Since fresh butter tends to be one of the cheapest and most widely available food products, there's really no point in spending the time, energy, and money required to preserve it long-term. What's more, attempting to do so can have life-threatening consequences.

Despite whatever you may have read online, canning butter isn't as straightforward as just storing melted butter in jars. Preserved butter must be processed in a way that inhibits bacteria from forming, which can prove especially challenging for a product that lacks a significant amount of acidity. Boasting a particularly high pH value, butter's low acidity can support the growth of harmful toxins like Clostridium botulinum when jars are improperly processed. But correct processing isn't always so straightforward.

Rather than employ the typical at-home method of giving canned goods a water bath, jars filled with low-acid foods like butter must undergo pressure canning to effectively prevent lethal spores from developing. However, executing this process in a household setting can prove extremely risky. 

Freeze fresh butter or buy something shelf-stable

Although fresher is always better when it comes to butter, there are still ways of effectively extending its shelf life. Taking preservation into your own hands, the safest way to make a hunk of freshly churned butter last is to freeze it. Stored in frosty conditions, sticks or even tubs of bulk butter can last for at least a year but potentially longer. Just make sure that the dairy product is well-wrapped or kept in a tightly-sealed container to avoid premature spoilage or freezer burn.

Should you be looking to store butter long-term, there's still another option. Rather than put yourself in a compromising position by unsafely canning your own butter, turn to the professionals and seek out commercially processed tins. Designed for emergency situations, these cost-effective tins can sit on a pantry shelf for an impressive amount of time. To avoid the risk of botulism altogether, it might even be wise to look for clarified butter, better known as ghee, or the ultra-long-lasting, freeze-dried versions of butter.

The bottom line is this, butter isn't made to last forever. Enjoy it fresh while you can, or find safe alternatives that'll help the dairy last. But it's really not worth the risk of canning improperly.