Mold On Butter – What’s The Cause And What To Do

Why is there mold on your butter? Mold growth on butter is primarily due to heat, contamination, and air exposure. Consuming moldy butter is inadvisable, as it may contain harmful toxins.

Butter, a rich, velvety, and delectable staple in many households, is perfect for baking or generously slathering on golden toast slices. Made from genuine ingredients, it’s the ultimate comfort food.

Store butter in a cool environment within airtight containers to maintain butter’s freshness and prevent mold.

Looking to keep your butter fresh and tasty? Explore our guide on handling moldy butter and discover the best storage practices for this delightful dairy product.

Mold On Butter – Is It Still Safe To Eat?

If mold is present in your butter, eating is no longer safe. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems moldy butter unfit for consumption and potentially harmful, posing risks of botulism, food poisoning, and damage to the immune system.

This is especially true for softened butter, as the texture allows mold to penetrate deeper, spreading toxins.

What is butter, you ask? This smooth, rich, and delectable delight enhances the flavor of countless dishes and is a favorite among many!

Butter cubes on a table. Credit: Unsplash
Butter cubes on a table. Credit: Unsplash

Widely used in baking, butter is also commonly found in sandwiches or on toast, and adds a delicious depth to pan-fried dishes and sauces. Curious about how it’s made? If you’ve never had the opportunity to create butter yourself, you may be wondering what process transforms milk’s creamy portion into this delightful dairy treat.

Primarily derived from cow’s milk, butter can also be made from buffalo, goat, sheep, and yak milk in certain countries.

Read also: What Is Butter Flavoring?

Can I Remove The Mold And Eat The Remaining Butter?

If you find a thin layer of mold on your butter, it’s disappointing, especially when you have a day of cooking ahead. Can you remove the mold and consume the rest? The FDA advises against it, as moldy butter poses health risks.

Nonetheless, some people might still choose to cut off the moldy part and eat the remaining butter. If you decide to do so, follow these tips for safety:

  1. Don’t attempt this with room-temperature butter, as the softened texture allows mold and toxins to spread deeper.
  2. Remove butter from its container or packaging before cutting the mold. Discard the used packaging and clean the container thoroughly.
  3. Cut off a generous amount of butter, leaving ample space between the mold and the portion you’ll consume.
  4. Use a sharp, clean knife and maintain a sanitary work area.
  5. After removing the mold, store the butter in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator.
  6. Consume the butter quickly, as it’s likely that not all mold spores have been eliminated, and they may spread rapidly.

Should I Be Worried If I Accidentally Ate Moldy Butter?

If you accidentally ate moldy butter, don’t panic! It’s unlikely to cause food poisoning, especially since butter is usually consumed in small quantities. However, moldy butter carries risks, as mold produces toxic chemicals called mycotoxins, which can cause allergies and respiratory issues.

Can I Bake With Moldy butter?

Baking with moldy butter is just as hazardous as eating it uncooked. Although baking kills mold, it doesn’t eliminate mycotoxins, which remain in the butter, regardless of whether it’s baked or heated.

Storing Butter

Butter stands out from other dairy products due to its unique texture that changes with temperature. When chilled, butter turns solid, but when heated, it becomes liquid. At room temperature, butter assumes a semi-solid state, perfect for spreading on toast!

While dairy products generally require careful storage at consistent temperatures to prevent rapid spoilage, butter’s distinct composition makes it different. The high-fat content and low water content in butter help inhibit mold growth, even at room temperature. However, under certain conditions, butter can still become moldy.

Butter is a relatively solid dairy product and typically has a long shelf life. In contrast to other dairy products, like yogurt, the butter will not become moldy.

In reality, it can be kept in the refrigerator for as long as three months even after it has been opened! However, butter may turn moldy, and there are several causes for this.

1. Contamination

A common cause of spoilage at home is the use of contaminated kitchenware. It’s easy to fall into this trap! While making sandwiches for your family, using the same knife for multiple tasks may seem convenient. You might butter one slice of bread and then spread jam or peanut butter before moving to the next slice.

Consequently, your butter gets contaminated with tiny bits of other ingredients. Even if you clean your knife between fillings, cross-contamination can still happen, especially with bread crumbs!

2. Heat

Exposure to heat significantly raises the risk of butter turning moldy. Heat promotes mold growth, allowing it to proliferate and spread more quickly. Additionally, when butter is heated, it softens, enabling molds to penetrate deeper into the butter.

3. Air

Mold typically enters butter through the air. Butter not stored in an airtight container is more susceptible to mold growth. Air exposure can also cause oxidation, a natural process that damages food in the presence of air, resulting in rancid, unpleasant butter.

4. Salt

At the supermarket, you’ll find two types of butter – salted and unsalted. Salt acts as an excellent preservative, inhibiting mold growth in butter. However, salted butter is more prone to mold, especially when stored at room temperature.

How To Know If Butter Has Gone Bad?

To ensure your butter is safe to consume, evaluate it based on the following criteria:

1. Appearance

Inspect the butter’s surface – are there any signs of mold growth, like tiny hairs? Prominent mold will alter the butter’s appearance. Examine the color; fresh butter should have a consistent, light yellow hue. Discoloration may indicate your butter has gone rancid.

2. Smell

Take a whiff – does it smell milky and sweet? Moldy butter will produce a distinct, musty odor. A foul, unpleasant smell suggests spoilage.

3. Taste

Only taste your butter if it passes both the smell and appearance tests! Rancid or moldy butter can have an off-putting taste, characterized by tart and sour flavors.

Jar of butter. Credit: Unsplash
Jar of butter. Credit: Unsplash

How To Prevent Mold Growth On Butter

To prevent mold growth on butter, we need to address the factors contributing to mold development.

1. Contamination

Avoid cross-contaminating your butter with other foods, as this is a primary cause of mold growth. Use a dedicated butter knife and clean it regularly. Removing any leftover crumbs or contaminants from the butter is essential.

2. Heat

Chilled butter is less likely to become moldy. Storing butter in the refrigerator is a good option, but it can make the butter hard to spread. If you prefer keeping your butter at room temperature, avoid direct sunlight and warm areas in your kitchen.

3. Air

Store butter in an airtight container at all times. If using a butter dish, ensure it has a tight seal around the edges. The paper packaging that butter often comes in is not ideal for long-term storage.

4. Salt

Salted butter is less prone to mold, especially when stored at room temperature. Many people keep salted butter at room temperature for sandwiches and store unsalted butter in the refrigerator for baking.

What Is The Best Way To Store Butter At The Room Temperature?

Storing butter at room temperature can be done without adverse effects if you consume it quickly. Sara Bachmann, who blogs at Sara’s Veggie Kitchen, recommends only keeping small amounts of butter at room temperature and storing the rest in the refrigerator.

The best method for storing butter at room temperature is to use an opaque, airtight container that keeps air and light away from the butter. Place the container in a consistently cool area, away from direct heat and sunlight.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

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