The Last Frontier

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Canning Butter

Canning butter isn't a top priority for most people, but it's an annual chore for me. In this article, I'll tell you how I've been canning butter for years. (To learn how I've been canning cheese --- both hard and soft cheeses, click here to read my article.) Since we don't have electricity, I have no way to keep butter from going rancid unless I can it. Our summers in this part of Alaska are not usually very hot, but last year we did have a few weeks with highs in the 90's. Although none of the butter I had stored in the cache melted, I was expecting a mess when I opened the tote. I don't know how I survived those steamy summer days growing up in Georgia. It rarely gets above 75 here. I have learned to love our mild Alaska summers.

Last year I did not get around to canning our butter and I regretted not making the time for it. Butter that has been canned does not taste quite the same as fresh butter, and the texture is a little different. I think that is caused by letting the temperature get too high, and maybe keeping it there too long, but I'm not sure. The taste of canned butter certainly isn't as bad as rancid butter, so from now on I'm making it a regular spring chore. The taste is really pretty good. Definitely fine for cooking and on toast.

Now for the disclaimer: Someone at the extension service told me that there is no USDA approved method for home-canning butter. So, if you decide to try this, then you're on your own. As in my post on canning cheese, I can't promise you that it's safe, but I can tell you that I've been canning butter and cheese for years and we've never been sick from it.

Here's how I can butter:

Note: 11 pounds of butter will fill 12 1/2 pint jars (just over 3/4 pound for each jar). Either Wide Mouth or Regular canning jars can be used. I use Regular because the jars, lids and bands are less expensive.

1. Place the butter in a large stainless steel or good enamel pot. Over low heat, slowly melt the butter, stirring occasionally. I leave the lid off.

2. While the butter is melting, sterilize clean pint canning jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. Sterilize bands and lids according to the package instructions and keep in hot water until ready to use.

3. Continue heating and stirring the butter until it begins to simmer, but don't quite let it come to a boil. Simmer the butter for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure it doesn't scorch. The butter separates as it heats, but then blends again as it is simmered and stirred.

4. Remove the hot jars from oven. Ladle the melted butter into the jars using a canning funnel if you have one. Leave 1/2" to 3/4" headspace. I stir the butter in the pot a little to keep it mixed and to keep it from cooling and sticking to the sides of the pot.

5. When all the jars are filled, clean the rims, place the hot lids and bands on the jars, and hand tighten.

6. After a few minutes, some of the jars will begin to seal (you will hear the pop). You will need to shake the jars every few minutes as the butter solidifies in order to keep it blended. I wait until the jars are cool enough to easily handle and have been sealed at least a few minutes before I begin shaking them. Shake each jar a little every few minutes. When the butter remains more consistent in the jars, you can refrigerate and check every 5 minutes. I don't have a way to refrigerate them, so this step takes a while for me. Continue shaking the jars every 5 minutes until the butter solidifies.

Using the above method, the jars are not processed in a boiling water bath. I have done that before by pouring the butter into the hot jars as soon as it melts (no simmering), and then did a 40 minute boiling water bath. I don't like it as well because it made the butter taste kind of stale and it was very grainy.


  1. Are you canning salted butter or unsalted butter? Are the techniques different for the two types of butter?


  2. Thanks for stopping by.
    The butter I buy is lightly salted. I don't think there would be any difference, although I've never tried canning unsalted butter. I've known people who have canned unsalted butter just fine.

  3. Many thanks.


  4. You are welcome. I wish I could be more help.

  5. Great blog! Here's another, faster way to keep butter I learned--make ghee (requires no canning; they use it in India)

    Pure unsalted Butter (not margarine)


    1. Heat butter in a saucepan in high-medium heat until it boils or bubbles.
    2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until butter turns to a clear golden color. (Butter usually begins to boils with lots of bubbles. When it is done, it will have foams on top of it indicating that ghee is nearly done.)
    3. Cool it and store it in dry container. Use ghee in you regular cooking.

    Tips to see if ghee is done

    Ghee is properly done when water is completely evaporated from butter. To find out if water is properly evaporated follow the following procedure. Pour heated butter into small piece of paper. Light the paper on fire. If it gives crackling noise, it is indicating the presence of water. Heat butter for some more time. With experience one can tell if ghee is done with the smell and color.

    Ghee Storage Tip:

    * Ghee does not have to be refrigerated.
    * For long lasting ghee, keep it out of moisture, i.e., don't use a wet spoon to take out ghee.

  6. Thank you VERY much for posting this. I just learned about Ghee a few months ago. Since I have not had time to can my butter yet this year, I will give the ghee a try. It does sound much easier. I would think that jars would be the best way for us to store it (to keep out the squirrels and mice that sometimes make it into the cache). But, I wonder if I could pour it into one of the large cans that coconut oil came it. Then I could scoop out enough for a few weeks at the time to keep in the pantry. Would that be too much opening and closing of the container?
    Thanks again,

  7. Thank you for you post. I'm new at canning and loving it. First was chuck roast cubes. Then pork loin. And today your butter technique.
    My beef and pork have been an amazing yummy surprise. Which I did canning when I was in the military. It would have saved me allot of money and I would have ate better.
    I get the butter for the Amish dairy in 2lb logs.
    I had one salted and one unsalted.each about 2.12 lbs. both took 5 half pint puck jar.
    I followed your instructions and just kept stirring till it started to come back together. I did not want to skim of foam as others suggested. I wanted it all in there.
    I think it all looked pretty perfect.
    Then later I picked up Vodka to pour into with my vanilla bean bottle to make vanilla extract.
    Now that's another great treat for my pantry!
    Thanks all for the great info.

  8. How do you store your butter after you canned it? What is the shelf life for the canned butter?

  9. I'm curious, too, about the expected shelf life. What has your experience been?

  10. Are you canning the butter in hit bath or pressure cooker?

  11. I have found and will try making my own fresh butter .
    You can purchase powdered whole milk - which butter needs the 'fat'.
    Do not get low fat powdered milk - it will not work .
    Us preppers can make fresh butter as needed .
    I will let you know how it turns out .

  12. I have been following others who have also canned butter. The majority express the need to completely cook off all the water liquid found in butter to succeed in having that full butter flavor as well as to decrease the chance of spoilage.

    Also, in reading your other article, I was wondering about the cheese canning method if the following would be do-able for those cheeses that aren't quite the same. I have noticed on youtube and others that they too have this problem with some canned almost rubbery, gritty effect. Perhaps this idea may help somewhat. Although it doesn't allow for "pure" cheese it may just do the trick. I am referring to making a roux and adding a bit of water to thicken it to a very thick sauce consistency. I think I would start out with a heaping tablespoon layered in the middle of the cheese when packing the cheese in prior to your open can melting method. Once melted I would then blend each jar of cheese well and reheat once agin to get as much moisture out as possible or if preferred make different consistency cheese sauce to begin with. Another alternative could be to add some cream cheese to your cheddar/ hard cheeses to help keep some smoothness to them and stave off the rubbery texture. Since your cheeses usually end up with a stronger flavor anyway I wouldn't see how adding some cream cheese would do any harm and may in fact improve the outcome of your canned cheese. I'd experiment with a couple cans just to see. In fact, when I do it I will try this out myself. ~D~

  13. Great read about Canning Butter...I love Canning Butter...

    buy flavored butter

  14. I LOVE this idea! Did not know it was possible to can butter at all, let alone that it was this simple! I too am wondering about the shelf life though?

  15. Thanks for the information on canning butter and making ghee. I've also canned cream cheese and have had wonderful results with no noticeable difference in the taste or consistency.

    Instead of canning cheese I by blocked if it and preserve it in cheese wax. As long as you put several layers of wax on it will last for years unrefrigerated.


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