Peanut butter is a great condiment, whether you're using it as a spread or adding it to a dish for its nutty flavors. Peanut butter is also perhaps one of the most reliable items in the kitchen cabinet because of its long shelf life. You can always count on having some ready to be spread over a toasted slice of bread and smothered in jelly. But, just how long is peanut butter's shelf life and when is the right time to toss it?
Most peanut butter has remained in the kitchen cabinet for a very long time, and most people wonder if peanut butter can go bad or not, and the short answer is yes!.
Low moisture content and high levels of fat give it an extremely long shelf life. But it will eventually go rancid due to its high-fat content.
Food that has gone rancid likely would not get you sick, but you probably would not want to eat it, as the taste and texture will be very unpleasant. Once it hits this stage, even the most die-hard peanut butter fans won't go near it.
You are not going to find mold growing on your peanut butter. That being said, you can still tell that peanut butter has gone bad by sight. The rancid peanut butter will be hard and dry, and the color might even be darker.
And, Of course, a classic sign of rancid food is a change in smell. Rancid peanut butter might smell, well, not like peanut butter (beware of bitter or metallic odors).
How you should store your peanut butter is going to differ based on the type you are dealing with. Conventionally processed peanut butter has a long shelf-life due to the addition of stabilizers like palm oil and hydrogenated oils. These will be fine to store in a cool, dry place for a period of time.
Although for a longer shelf life, you will want to transfer it to the fridge after two to three months.
Natural peanut butter, on the other hand, does not contain any of these additives, so they do best when refrigerated after opening. However, they will be fine for a few weeks at room temperature.
Worried about the oil separation? You can forget making a mess on the counter as you try to stir the oil into the peanut butter; store it upside down instead, so the oil evenly distributes throughout the jar.
And now for the answer we have all been waiting for, which is how long does peanut butter really last, and who better to answer than the National Peanut Board. Here is what they have to say on the matter: