It’s early in the morning as you are drinking your hot coffee and preparing for work. You can’t leave your house without a proper breakfast, and you know just the perfect combination that would kickstart your day.
Just the thought of peanut spread and jelly in a toast makes your mouth water. So you quickly check your pantry for a peanut butter jar, only to find out that it has been sitting there half full for quite some time. Could it be that it went bad?
But wait for a second…Peanut butter doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so it must be a long-lasting food product, right?
If so, can peanut butter go bad?
We were also intrigued by this topic since PB sandwiches are a staple in our menu, so we’ve decided to dig a bit further. If you want to learn more about peanut butter, its shelf life, and more PB related questions, read on!
Does Peanut Butter Go Bad?
The short answer to this question is – yes, peanut butter does go bad, but not in the way you think.
The peanut butter will most certainly degrade on quality over time, but that doesn’t mean it will go rancid.
Several other factors will determine whether and when it will go bad. Before we proceed with further explanation, we need to learn something more about peanut butter.
About Peanut Butter
- Peanut butter is a spread or food paste that’s made from dry-roasted groundnuts. Creating peanut butter involves grounding plain or roasted peanuts until they turn into a creamy, sticky paste.
- Store-bought peanut butter often contains additional ingredients such as salt, emulsifiers (additives that help two different liquids mix), or sweeteners, which alter the texture and taste.
- Peanut butter is very versatile, and it is used in many dishes and desserts. It can also be mixed in drinks. The spread’s most common usage is on toast, bread, crackers, crepes, brownies, and cookies.
- Did you know that America is the biggest consumer and exporter of peanut butter? Also, let’s not forget the most famous peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
- We have to say that you should always opt for real, unprocessed peanut butter. That version is much healthier because it usually only contains salt and no added sugars, oils, or trans-fats.
- Let’s have a look at the nutritional chart of peanut butter per 100 gr:
|Saturated fat||10 grams|
|Monounsaturated fat||24 grams|
|Polyunsaturated fat||14 grams|
- As you can see, peanut butter is an excellent source of protein. However, even though peanuts are rich in protein, that is not the same protein you will get from meat.
- That’s because peanuts, like other legumes, don’t contain enough methionine. Put merely; methionine is an amino acid that is directly responsible for proper cell functioning. So, if you require protein, don’t rely just on peanuts.
- Peanut butter is also rich in healthy fatty acids and contains several minerals and vitamins (RDA= Recommended Dietary Allowance) :
|Vitamin E||45% of RDA|
|Vitamin B3||67% of RDA|
|Vitamin B6||27% of RDA|
|Folate||18% of RDA|
|Magnesium||39% of RDA|
|Copper||24% of RDA|
|Manganese||73% of RDA|
- It also contains reasonable amounts of iron, zinc, potassium, and selenium. However, bear in mind that it is always better to eat 100 grams of spinach or broccoli than a high-calorie treat such as peanut butter.
- Nevertheless, PB is also a great source of antioxidants. It can boost heart health, help with weight loss, manage blood sugar levels, support bodybuilding, and reduce breast cancer risk!
Potential Health Hazard
- Although peanut butter may be nutritious, it can also contain harmful substances such as aflatoxins. These are toxic compounds formed by a type of mold and can often be found on peanuts. Aflatoxin poisoning can, in some cases, even cause liver damage and liver cancer, as well as other health problems.
- The good news is that processing the peanuts into peanut butter can reduce aflatoxin levels by 90%.
How Long Does Peanut Butter Last?
Every PB jar comes with a best-by date, and it is there to inform you of how long the product will preserve its quality. But if we’re talking about an unopened peanut jar, it will certainly last much longer as it is sealed and protected from all the outside factors, such as bacteria and oxygen.
So, the shelf life will depend on the type of peanut butter and ingredients added. However, an unopened jar of peanut butter will last approximately 10-15 months, and it will most certainly stay safe for consumption even after its expiration date.
As for the unopened jar, the answers vary, but most manufacturers recommend using it within 6 months, more or less. That’s because you will enjoy the best possible quality in the first few months after you open the jar. After opening, the oxidation process begins, and the peanut butter loses its flavors much faster.
As for homemade peanut butter, it will stay good for 1-3 months, maybe even longer. But don’t expect much since it doesn’t contain any preservatives.
How To Store Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is generally a shelf-stable food product. Peanut butter contains a lot of fat and a minimal amount of water; hence it isn’t suitable for fungi and bacteria growth.
The first important thing you should remember is to keep the lid of the jar sealed tightly. That’s because the biggest enemy of your peanut butter is oxygen. After you open the jar, the air gets into contact with the product, and the deterioration process accelerates. Good seal after opening will keep the butter fresh for a longer time.
Furthermore, you can keep an unopened jar of butter at room temperature. Just remember that even though it can stay safe for consumption at room temperature, it still doesn’t like heat. So, keep it away from the stove, for example.
Dry, cool, and dark areas will work perfectly for your PB. As for the location, you can keep it in a pantry or cupboard, whichever suits you the best.
But the most confusing thing about peanut butter is where you should store it after you open the jar? Again, it is quite simple. Just store it in the pantry or cupboard, as it will still be shelf-stable.
But, the thing is, an opened jar of peanut butter will lose its flavors faster at room temperature. On the other hand, if you put it in the refrigerator, it will also lose its flavors, but the process will be much slower.
Thus, we advise you to stash the jar in the back of your fridge for longer-term storage. You can also freeze it, as it won’t have altered taste or texture, so don’t worry about it.
Signs Of Spoilage
Most often than not, you will discard peanut butter jar for quality reasons, and not because it actually went bad. As we’ve already mentioned, it is rich with fat, and so it is tough for any bacteria to grow in such an environment.
That’s why it has quite a long shelf life, and you don’t have to refrigerate it. As long as you store the spread properly, it will last a long time.
However, spoilage is still possible. If you notice any bacteria growths on the surface or black specs, you should discard the jar. The same goes for changed texture, and rancid taste and smell. Although rare, these are the definite signs that your PB has gone bad, and you should discard it.
Nevertheless, there is one thing to consider. The separation of oil in the peanut butter will occur, but it is perfectly normal, and it doesn’t indicate the spread is spoiled. Just stir it, and you’re golden!
Lastly, if you don’t see any signs of spoilage, but your PB tastes different, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is spoiled. In most cases, it is safe to consume. It probably just lost its aroma and has an altered taste due to the oxidation process.
Some people don’t mind if their peanut butter tastes different, and some people do. It’s up to you whether you’re going to eat it or toss it.
Does Peanut Butter Go Bad – Final Word
In conclusion, peanut butter can go bad. However, its high-fat content isn’t such a great place for bacteria and fungi to grow, so it’s more likely it will only degrade in quality.
It will still take many months before any rancidity signs occur, and it can often be used after its best-before date. As for storage conditions, the most important thing here is to keep the jar sealed tightly as the oxygen is its worst enemy.
Also, make sure you stash it in a dry and cool area, away from the sources of heat and direct sunlight. The perfect storage locations are pantry or cupboard, but you can also put it in the fridge for prolonged storage.
In contrast, if you notice any black spots or growths on the surface, changed texture, rancid odor, and taste, discard the product immediately. But most often than not, you will toss it for quality reasons and not rancidity.
Lastly, remember that peanut butter is full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and it is also rich in protein. However, take into account that it is a high-calorie treat, and it is for the best you limit its intake.
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