Why You Don't Need to Refrigerate Peanut Butter

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate your peanut butter — that’s the question that’s been bantered around for decades. So, let’s get right to the chase……peanut butter is one of those foods that you don’t need to refrigerate. If the jar has not been opened, you can expect it to last in the pantry for 6-9 months. After opening, it’s good for 2-3 months. When it comes to “shelf-stable foods,” peanut butter is said to be “safe indefinitely.” It may take on a stale flavor or an unappetizing texture or color over the years, but it’s not likely to kill you. How is this possible? A jar of peanut butter is mostly oils and solids. Like dairy butter, peanut butter just doesn’t have enough water in it to be a hospitable place for germs to grow. So, now that we’ve established that peanut butter is safe at room temperature, does that mean it’s bad to keep it in the refrigerator? It depends on how long it takes you to go through a jar of peanut butter. Many people have no problem eating their way through the jar in a matter of days or weeks. However, if you tend to have the same jar sitting around for months on end — at least longer than 2-3 months — the USDA recommends refrigerating it to keep it fresh. The other consideration is texture. If you use a natural peanut butter that tends to separate into oils and solids, you can mix it thoroughly and then store it in the refrigerator. That way, the peanut butter will stay mixed longer. On the other hand, if you like your peanut butter as spreadable as possible, you may prefer the texture that comes with storing it in the pantry.