Butter: Long-Term Shelf Life?… YES!

I am a stickler for safety in the kitchen, but don’t always follow the rules and demands of the “experts.” Call me a rebel. Maybe I am. But what I am about to share with you, I must put in a disclaimer, so here goes.

DISCLAIMER: The USDA has not recommended canning butter or dairy, and I think the reason is that they haven’t researched the safety nor come up with a tried-and-true way of doing it yet, so they, in turn, tell you not to. I am only sharing this with you to show you how I do it, and must disclaim that you do it at your own risk. (Even saying that, makes my skin crawl. My kitchen, my rules! Your kitchen, your rules!) So to wrap up my disclaimer, this method has not been approved by the USDA, but we’re going to tell you how to to it safely anyway. Let’s get started.

What You’ll Need:

  • Equal amounts of both unsalted and salted butter
  • Large stockpot
  • Pressure Canner
  • Jars, Lids, Rings
  • Clean pint-sized wide mouth canning jars
  • Clean Glass Marbles (yes, I said marbles)


[Note: To calculate how many pint jars you need, figure 1 jar per pound of butter, then add 4 or 5 more. Butter expands as it is heated, so prep more jars than you think you’ll need.]

Put your pint jars into the pressure canner with some water, and bring to a boil to sterilize. Put your lids into another pot of water and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let the lids sit in the hot water while you continue on to the next steps.

Throw all the butter into a large stockpot and melt it on medium heat, stirring often. You don’t want it boiling and bubbling away, you just want everything to melt together.

Once your jars are hot and ready, use a canning funnel and ladle to fill the jars with the hot butter, leaving a 1/2″ head space in the jars.

Wipe the rims of the jars to clean them of any extra drippings that may have touched them. DO NOT USE VINEGAR for this; just use hot water on a paper towel. One teeny-tiny drop of vinegar touching the butter inside the jar will ruin it! You don’t want vinegar anywhere near your dairy.

Once the jars are filled with hot butter, drop one clean glass marble into each jar. No, I haven’t lost my mind. This is an important step and will be explained shortly.

Apply hot lids and the rings, and just tighten the rings finger-tight. Put jars back into the pressure canner and get ready to process.

Pressure Canning Instructions:

I might want to mention here, that if you are using hard water from the tap or from your well, sprinkle tartaric acid (cream of tartar) into the water while filling the canner. This will keep your canner clean, and will also keep all mineral deposits off of your jars during canning, and your jars will come out clean every time! (Many people use vinegar, but I have found from experience that the vinegar discolors the aluminum canners over time, but tartaric acid does not.)

Put the jars of butter into the pressure canner and bring to a boil. Once the pressure cock has popped up, and the steam is venting steadily, set your timer for 10 minutes and let it vent. This is very important, because you want all the air out of the canner before bringing it up to pressure.

Once you’ve vented the steam for 10 minutes, apply the weighted jiggler (10# pressure weight for sea level – 1000 ft, 15# pressure weight for over 1000 ft is safe).

Keeping the flame on high, watch the pressure gauge until it reaches the correct pressure for your altitude. If your canner doesn’t have a pressure gauge, wait until the jiggler starts jiggling, and if you’ve put the correctly-weighted jiggler on the canner, it will start to jiggle when it reaches the correct pressure.


Once the pressure has come back down completely and the pressure “cock” has popped down, it is safe to open the lid and remove the jars to a towel to cool.

Read on to read the important steps after the jars are out of the canner and cooling.

Instructions for Cooling-Down Process:

Now is where we talk about the marble in the jar. When the jars have cooled enough to hold, all the lids are sealed and you’ve tightened any rings that have loosened in the canner, you want to shake each jar with a back and forth motion.

The purpose of shaking the jars, and the purpose of the marble, is to mix the milk solids back into the butter fat. You’ll notice a layer of “white” stuff on the bottom of all your jars, and that is the milk solids that have separated from the fat. The marble acts as an agitator inside the jar to help with this process. You can probably do without the marbles, but again, experience has shown me that it works MUCH better than going without.

Every so often, over the next few hours of the cooling off period, shake the jars.

Over time, you’ll notice that the butter contents begin to solidify, and eventually it looks like a creamy white milkshake inside the jar, and you can no longer hear the marble clanking against the inside of the jar. The milk solids no longer sink to the bottom, and it’s starting to look like regular butter!

It’s important to keep your eye on the jars during the cooling off process, because the time between the butter turning from a liquid state to a cooled state, can happen pretty quickly!

Once you can no longer hear the marble rattle, or the marble stays stuck into the hardened contents at the bottom of the jar, you’re done. You no longer need to shake the jars.

At this point you can walk away and let them cool completely on the towel. Once they’re completely cooled, remove the rings, label, and store the butter on your pantry shelf for long-term enjoyment without refrigeration! Once you open a jar, it is safe to sit out on the counter until it’s used up. (Again, remember the disclaimer? I’m going to say that if you are the type to leave your butter out at room temp, you can do the same with canned butter. If you freak out over that, then be my guest and put it in the fridge after you open the jar. Your kitchen, your rules.)

And, of course, once you’ve reached the bottom of the jar, you can simply fish out the marble, wash it and use it again in the future.

There you have it! I’ll put together a video the next time I can butter, and will add the link to the video at a later date. Here’s what the butter looks like when it’s all cooled off and ready to store:

2 thoughts on “Butter: Long-Term Shelf Life?… YES!

Add yours

  1. I got to witness this beautiful jar of gold that will be super on toast on a cool day in years to come!! And I was gifted a jar that sits on MY shelf. Thanks dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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