I don't home can butter. I don't recommend it to anyone I actually care about. Since I care about everyone who reads my blog, I'm making sure I'm clear on this subject right now.
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A few years ago my friend Angela at Food Storage and Survival wrote about canning butter on her website. That was the first time the issue of bottling butter and safety came to my attention. Thank you Angela! I admittedly didn't have all the facts. At that time I'd been pressure canning my butter after the advice of a friend at church. Angela and I responded back and forth in comments on her blog. I borrowed a microbiology book. I spent hours studying the safety on my own. But...once I got educated on the safety (or lack thereof) when she posted Bottled Butter Part 2 ...I stopped. PERIOD. I admitted I was wrong. (Yes. It's okay to admit you're wrong.) I admit I'm wrong a lot...but that's what makes me human. I don't expect myself or anyone else to be perfect. I threw out the butter that I had home canned and I never looked back. Why?! Because it's not a proven safe method. It can KILL your family. If it has the possibly, why risk it? Why do I bring this up now? Years later?! Because I've been on pinterest lately and seen people posting it all over the place. In fact, I'll probably offend some hard core bottling people by saying this...but now I'm very opinionated against it. There. I said it. And you know I love you guys right?! Seriously?!
I love you! I love you enough to say get educated! At least if you do decide to take your family's safety in your hands and home preserve you're doing it with safety on your side. I'm not a fan of the phrase, "I haven't killed anyone yet." For the record, if you plan on killing someone, at least don't do it with butter. It's just to pretty of a food to inflict death.
It is also seriously not my intention to offend butter-bottling bloggers. Please know my heart. I love you. I reaaaaly do love you. I know most of the ones who are posting it are doing so without even knowing it's unsafe. Some know it's unsafe and just post a little link to the safety like it's a side note. Safety is not a side note. It's the main deal. If butter can't be proven to be canned safely in the USA by our own commercial production companies, why do it at home when the safety is even more in question?! The canned butter available now is coming from other countries. Butter is a low acid food. As such, you run the risk of botulism. Botulism has the potential to case death.
The FDA has warned against botulism from low acid foods like butter in it's home canned food "Bad Bug Book" Here more specifically it says, "Any food that is conducive to outgrowth and toxin production, that when processed allows spore survival, and is not subsequently heated before consumption can be associated with botulism. Almost any type of food that is not very acidic (pH above 4.6) can support growth and toxin production by C. botulinum. " .
So...here's the deal-i-o...Direct from the National Center for Home Food Preservation on canning butter:FAQ section of the National Center for Home Food Preservation:
- "Although mostly fat, butter is a low-acid food, as are meat and most vegetables. Low-acid foods will support the outgrowth of botulism and toxin formation in a sealed jar at room temperature. Low-acid products have to be pressure-canned by tested processes to be safely kept in a sealed jar at room temperature. (Chef Tess note: Butter has NOT been proven safe to pressure can by a tested process as of yet! You can't just guess on the time or pressure. It must be a proven safe time/pressure. Butter's high fat content has been proven to protect botulism spores, even at high temperatures.)
- In most directions, the jars are preheated in an oven, which isn't recommended by jar manufacturers because dry heat can cause them to crack.
- The butter is not really being "canned," which would involve a boiling water bath or pressure canner. It is simply being melted, poured in canning jars and covered with lids.
- Due to some heat present from the melted butter and preheated jars, some degree of vacuum is pulled on the lids to develop a seal. But it rarely is as strong a vacuum as you get in jars sealed through heat processing.
- "We have no kind of database in the home canning/food processing arena to know what the microbiological concerns would be in a butter stored at room temperature in a sealed jar,"
- "In the absence of that, given that it is low-acid and that fats can protect spores from heat if they are in the product during a canning process , we cannot recommend storing butter produced by these methods under vacuum-sealed conditions at room temperature."
I also found this Deseret News Article to be rather helpful. Teresa Hunsaker at the Utah State University Extension in Weber County is quoted there saying. "Yes, there is an update on the bottled butter: NO for home production," If the amazing food science folks in Cache Valley say no, then I'm with them. Yes, that was in 2010. So far, no change. Oh, and the sharp cookies on Everyday Food Storage agreed. Just know the facts. That's all I'm saying. At least if you do home can butter you go into it with your eyes wide open and know you're doing it at your own risk. Period. I'm not doing it again. Ever.
That's all I have to say about that. Oh. Except for the fact that I do recommend powdered butter for long term storage if you get it from reputable companies. It doesn't work the same as real butter in baking, but it's close in flavor.
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess