Apple Butter Still Good? What You Need to Know

How Long Does Apple Butter Last?

I don’t know anyone who loves apples who’s also not an avid fan of apple butter.

How could you not be?

Is there anything more heavenly than being able to experience the fresh and fruity flavor of apples in spreadable form? Whether it’s toast, bagels, English muffins or whatever you might enjoy, nothing comes close to that smooth, lip licking good cinnamon spiced flavor.

But enough about me and my obsession with apple butter.

The real reason you’ve popped by is to find out how long it lasts. 

Whether your apple butter is homemade or fresh from the jar, it will easily last in the refrigerator for several weeks, if not months. Unopened, or vacuum-sealed, jars will last even longer – years in most cases – although to enjoy maximum taste and texture, it’s best consumed within a twelve-month period.

Although not discussed in this article, we should mention that freezing apple butter might also be an option to consider. If you’re interested, we do have an article about keeping your apple butter in the freezer.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to get the most out of your latest batch or that delectable jar you picked up at the grocery store, then let’s get to it!

Apple butter originated during the Middle Ages as a method for long-term preservation of the fruit. It’s thought to have first appeared in what are The Netherlands and Germany today.

Monasteries were commonplace in the region and so too were orchards maintained by the monks. The naturally high levels of sugar combined with low water content meant that apple butter could be stored (and consumed) for long periods at a time when refrigeration didn’t exist.

Because of the abundant surplus of apples and the extended shelf life that apple butter offered, it didn’t take long for the popularity of apple butter to spread, no pun intended!

From its early beginnings in Europe to the American colonies and ever since, apple butter has remained a staple of many homes around the world.

If you didn’t already know, apple butter contains no dairy. Instead, the term “butter” is used to describe the consistency of the product since it spreads in a manner similar to room temperature butter. In addition to apples, other ingredients like cinnamon and cloves are often added to enhance the condiment’s flavor. 

Can Apple Butter Go Bad?

Despite the fact that apple butter has an impressively long shelf life, it’s still possible for it to suffer spoilage and so yes, apple butter can go bad. Unfortunately, there are no real timelines for knowing when this has happened.

In fact, there are some stories floating around the internet from people who claimed to have eaten apple butter that’s more than a decade old!

To determine whether it’s still edible, you’ll have to rely on your senses and your commonsense.

One thing to remember is that if your apple butter is especially old, it might be possible that the quality of it can deteriorate and it still be perfectly fine to eat.

With that said, if you can see any drastic changes to the color or texture of it or when smelling it, you notice foul or unpleasant odors, it’s probably safer to dispose of it. Another obvious indicator would be the presence of mold on the surface of the apple butter.

For the most part, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any spoilage of your apple butter, whether it’s homemade or store bought. There are a few different reasons for this.

Apples are a high acid food, meaning that they have pH levels of less than 4.6. Foods that are high in acid make it difficult for bacteria or mold to flourish. As an extra precaution, you might even find recipes that include small amounts of vinegar, which is also acidic, to further reduce the chances of microorganisms gaining a foothold.

Commercially produced apple butter often includes additional preservatives like high fructose corn syrup and sodium benzoate, both of which are highly acidic, and act to greatly inhibit the impacts of molds or bacteria. 

Comparison Homemade Apple Butter Commercially Produced Apple Butter
Shelf Life Long, but can go bad Long, with added preservatives
Indicators of spoilage Changes in color or texture, foul odors, mold Changes in color or texture, foul odors, mold
Factors that inhibit spoilage High acidity levels, vinegar High acidity levels, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate

Do You Refrigerate Apple Butter?

Whether your apple butter is freshly made or store bought, refrigerating it is a good idea if you want to extend its shelf life.

If you’ll recall from earlier in the article, we mentioned that apple butter has an exceptional shelf life even when not refrigerated, it only makes sense to take advantage of refrigeration.

Doing so will not only help it last longer, but will also reduce the chances of spoilage. And really, is there anything worse than having to throw out a jar of apple butter?

How Long Does Homemade (Or Fresh) Apple Butter Last in the Refrigerator?

If you plan on using your fresh apple butter soon, then refrigeration is a good idea since it naturally extends the shelf life of apple butter.

Storage options for the fridge can include airtight containers made or plastic or glass. If stored in this way, you can expect your homemade apple butter to last for one to three months.

How Do You Store Apple Butter?

Aside from refrigeration, another popular option for preserving apple butter (aside from freezing it) is canning.

A detailed tutorial of canning apple butter is beyond the scope of this article but we’ve tracked down some great resources on how to do it which you can find here, here and here.

The benefit of canning is that your apple butter won’t require any extra refrigeration so long as the vacuum seal remains intact.

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