By: Cindy Gilbert | Sister Knowitall

Dear Sister Knowitall,

My grandmother always had butter right on the table and it was always so soft and creamy. Butter is a dairy product and should be refrigerated right? 

It is always so difficult to spread right out of the fridge and trying to soften it in the microwave makes it runny. So Sister Knowitall here is my question. Is it safe to leave butter out for a long period of time?  

Sincerely Ms Butterworthy

Dear Ms Butterworthy, 

What a terrific question.  Milk curdles and cheese gets moldy, but what about butter? Many people leave a stick of butter on the counter without thinking twice about it. Others religiously keep their butter in the fridge after each use.  I  once owned a coffeehouse and know Dairy is one of the major food groups categorized as a Time/temperature Control for Safety (TCS) food. TCS foods can be dangerous to eat if not kept at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time.  So it made sense to me to refer to the FDA government food guidelines to answer your question accurately.   I’ll attempt not to bore you.  First and foremost cream is pasteurized which lowers bacteria counts in the cream to safe levels, Second, on once the butter is made, the physical properties protect it from bacterial growth. Bacteria need water to grow. Butter is at least 80% fat and water the churning process separates the  water molecules and then they are surrounded by fat, Bacteria has a very difficult time penetrating through  the fat barrier. Third, butter that is salted makes the bacteria even less likely to grow.  So based on my research I feel confident leaving our  butter out for maybe one to two days however any longer than that butter will start to take on a rancid taste and smell.  

While we are on the topic of butter. I would be remiss not answering the question which is better for you butter or margarine.    To remain solid at room temperature, vegetable oils are hydrogenated, which creates trans fatty acids that can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol. Most solid sticks of margarine contain trans fats and/or saturated fat.  Let me leave you with this statistic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avoiding artificial trans fats completely could prevent up to 20,000  heart attacks and 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths in the US every year.  I think that pretty much sums it up. 
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Cindy Pitts Gilbert is Director of Training for Know It Training for Professional and Personal Development in Gwinnett County. She is also the Home Remedy Guru of the Blog Sister Knowitall: She has been learning natural home remedies after she developed allergic reactions to chemicals in household cleaning products. Send your questions to:

Published: 2017-11-15 19:37