Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to can butter?

IMPORTANT NOTE: The canning of butter is extremely dangerous and should NEVER be done for home consumption. The National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia-Atlanta says that it is not an acceptable way to preserve butter. You aren't "processing" the butter to kills the are only heating the jars to form a seal. This still allows botulism to grow and flourish in the butter....and because botulism is odorless, tasteless and colorless, it can be toxic to your family! Check out their website for more information.

Yes! You can do this at your home with just 3 things: butter, canning jars & your range/oven! I actually did this just a few weeks ago, and although it takes a bit of time, it's definitely worth adding to your food storage!

Storing fats are tricky because of the rancidity factor, but canned butter can last 3-5 years (on the shelf!) in correct conditions: cool temp, no direct heat or light. I keep mine in boxes on my storage shelf in my basement.

1. If you are going to do this, block out a couple hours so you won't be rushed (maybe while kids are at school or napping), this takes a bit of patience with minimal interruptions. I did this while my husband was gone, my 2 & 4 year old children woke up from their naps an hour into my "canning session" and were crabby, whiny & was not an ideal environment; however, I managed complete it and all my jars sealed successfully. But next time I will plan differently!

2. I used 10 lbs butter for this "trial run", I have 20 lbs more in my freezer. Butter freezes wonderfully! I buy good quantities when it's on sale (2/$3) during Holidays or promotions and freeze it until I have enough to make a batch or two.

3. Butter expands when it warms, so your 10 lbs will "grow" while you're doing this, be sure you have a large enough pot, or use 2. I found out the hard way and had to pour melted butter from one large pot to another, what a mess........

4. Be sure you have cleared a shelf in your fridge for the cooling process so you're not scrambling at the last minute.

With that in mind, here are the step by step instructions:

1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4" of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

A lovely glow seems to emanate from every jar. You will also be glowing with grateful satisfaction while placing this "sunshine in a jar" on your pantry shelves.

I have not tasted my finished product (took too much work, I didn't want to open one!), but I've heard from those whom have and they say it's wonderful! Since you don't add anything to it, it should taste just like butter. Once opened, you treat it as you would an open stick of butter- refrigerate upon opening or keep tightly sealed on pantry shelf.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

I'm curious if you can freeze the butter, why can it? Just curious. Before you pour could you whip it to get more of a creamer base?

Janel said...

Although I've never canned butter, I know that butter that has melted and firmed up again has a different texture. It tastes pretty much the same, but I don't care for the texture at all.

Anonymous said...

Canning Butter? What a great idea. Living in FL we're alway up against losing power during hurricane season. Perfect idea. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Sandra Dornick

Adrienne said...

I've heard of doing this but never dared try it. maybe i will now...

Mary Lou in Central NY said...

Just a note-I canned butter about six months ago. It has been languishing in the back of a cool,dark cupboard all this time. I recently came across various blog posts that said that canning butter isn't the best idea. (Mostly saying that butter is a low acid food and should be pressure canned) So---I opened up a few of my butters as I had some baking to do anyway. Well, the first one was fine, the second one had a dark grey mold on it, and the third one smelled like a baby's diaper. (Sorry, but it's the best description.) What I am going to do is check the rest of them, there are about 14, and keep the good ones in the fridge for now.

Crystal over at has a great blog entry about canning butter, "My opinion on Powdered Butter and Home Canned Butter" and I think in the event of an emergency, I will use her suggestions and substitutions.
From now on, my butter will stay in the freezer.

In the interest of fairness, I will say that many persons out in blog land that I have great respect for have canned butter with no problem. This is why I tried it. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is too risky for me.


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