February 22

How to Freeze Butter the Right Way – A Fool Proof Guide

Written by: Caitlin Clark

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In the fridge, butter will last three to four months, but properly frozen, it could last up to a year! Freezing butter is the most effective way to make sure you have this essential ingredient on hand at all times. 

But freezing it doesn't just mean throwing it in the freezer. We want to make sure it comes out the same way we put it in. Below we've outlined everything you need to know to freeze, preserve and thaw butter so when the time comes, you're ready!

Should You Freeze Butter


Is it Worth it?

YES! Not only does freezing significantly extend the shelf life of butter, but it does so without damaging any of butter’s flavor or texture!

Whether you want to stock up to avoid running out of this kitchen staple or have some butter approaching its use-by date, freezing it is a great way to preserve this key ingredient without losing quality. 

Flavor/Texture changes

As long as you store the butter properly in the freezer and use it within a year (or six months for unsalted butter), you won’t be able to tell the difference between fresh butter and thawed butter.

However, if you don’t package the butter properly, or if you leave it in the freezer too long, it may begin to oxidize or even pick up flavors from pungent foods (like onions) that you have stored nearby. 

How to Freeze Butter


You usually find butter packaged by the stick or pound and wrapped in waxed paper. To protect this butter from picking up other flavors and even from freezer burn (butter is about 15% water, so freezer burn is a real risk!), place the sticks or pounds in a freezer-safe bag labeled with the date.

If possible, keep it away from garlic, onions, or other aromatic foods in the freezer. Unlike butter, margarine and butter spreads are often sold in plastic tubs that are prone to cracking or splitting in the freezer, so it’s best to transfer these products to a freezer-grade container before freezing to avoid this risk.  

In all of these cases, date-labeling is important so that you can use older items first.

Margarine and other plant-based oil spreads last around four months in the freezer.

Unsalted butter lasts for six months.

Salted butter can endure up to a year in the freezer! 

How to Thaw Butter


Generally, the recommended practice is to thaw frozen butter in the refrigerator to maximize its shelf life. While fresh butter may last 3-4 months, you should use frozen butter within 30 days of defrosting it.

So, keeping it in the fridge as much as possible will help you take advantage of that time. However, it can take up to 7 hours for a stick of butter to thaw to a usable texture in the fridge--make sure you plan for this time! 

If you need to soften frozen butter very quickly, grate it onto wax paper through the large holes in a cheese grater, then just give it a few minutes to thaw each of the small pieces. If you need to cream the butter (as for a cake or cookie recipe), it is perfectly safe to defrost the butter at room temperature, as long as you use it shortly afterward.  

Uses for Frozen Butter


One of the best uses for frozen butter is making pie crust. Recipes generally require frozen butter and ice-cold water to keep the dough very cold!

Frozen butter is also a useful technique in biscuit-making, where it helps keep biscuits flaky.

In both cases, grate the desired quantity of frozen butter straight over the flour and then toss it to coat. If your recipe requires melted butter, you can melt frozen butter directly in the microwave or a pan over low heat. For all other uses of butter, simply thaw the butter first and use it as you would fresh butter.

FAQs


How Long Can You Freeze Butter?

If you put it in the freezer before its use-by date, you can freeze unsalted butter for up to six months before it begins to lose its flavor, while salted butter lasts up to a year

Can You Freeze Margarine?

Margarine will last for about four months in the freezer. Since margarine is often sold in plastic tubs that may crack in the freezer, be sure to transfer it to a freezer-safe container first. 

Can You Freeze Almond Butter?

Almond butter freezes well for up to six months. But make sure to use an air-tight container because it is very prone to oxidation!

Can You Freeze Apple Butter?

When you freeze apple butter, allow about ½ inch of space in the top of the container for it to expand due to its high water content. It is safe to store apple butter in the freezer for up to a year, although it probably begins to lose some of its flavor and freshness after four to six months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, and use it within three weeks after you defrost it.  

Concluding


After literally doing dozens of freezing guide articles, we're confident in telling you that butter holds up probably better than any. It's a staple ingredient and freezing it is just a logical step in being an efficient cook.

Leave a note below if you have any questions or comments.

Cheers,

Caitlin


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About the author

Caitlin is a Ph.D student and chocolate researcher at Colorado State University. Her research in the Food Science program focuses on chocolate fermentation (that’s right, it’s a fermented food!) and small-batch post-harvest processing techniques. When she is not acting in her capacity as resident chocolate guru, she researches other fermented foods and beverages like beer, sausage, and natto. Caitlin was drawn to fermented foods while living in rural Spain for six years, where she was exposed to traditional, time-honored practices of food preservation. At home, she practices Bollywood dance for fun and is followed everywhere by two small pet rabbits.

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