Peanut Butter Can Spoil; Here’s How You Can Tell When To Throw It Out

There are signs that mean it's time to buy a new jar.

IMAGE Corletto Peanut Butter/Unsplash

That's right! Peanut butter can go bad but while it might sound like a rare occurrence, you should know the signs that you need to throw that opened and unfinished jar out and get yourself another one. 

Here are the signs that your peanut butter has gone bad or, at the least, is no longer fit to spread on bread: 

Photo by Mirko Sajkov/Pixabay

1 The peanut butter smells off.   

The first thing you want to do is give it a whiff. If the peanut butter doesn't smell like peanuts, if it has a rancid, oily smell, or if it smells like it's old, you may want to toss it out instead of spreading it on your bread slice.    

Photo by Shutterbug75/Pixabay
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2 There's mold. 

Peanut butter is low in moisture and high in natural fat. That's why it sticks to the roof of your mouth and why your mouth suddenly becomes dry when you eat it. This environment makes it hard for bacteria to grow, so even if it's been on your kitchen counter for a few weeks, it's still edible and safe to eat. 

However, it's not impenetrable nor is it not capable of growing mold. The culprit when this happens isn't the peanut butter itself. It might be the spoon, the knife, or even your finger that you snuck in there for a quick taste. Any bacteria on that contaminated utensil might be the reason why spots of black mold or any other growths got into your peanut butter. 

To prevent that, always use a clean utensil when scooping out from the jar. 

Photo by Tania Melnyczuk/Unsplash

3 The peanut butter has hardened. 

If the texture of the peanut butter has gone from smooth and creamy (this is despite the chunks of peanuts in your chunky peanut butter), it might just be because you never stirred the peanut butter well when the oil separated from the peanuts. 

When some oil separates from the peanut butter, this actually quite natural for natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter doesn't have stabilizers in it to prevent this from happening, so the oil will eventually rise to the top and the peanut butter will settle on the bottom. This is not a sign of spoilage. You can solve this easy problem by adding more peanut oil (or any neutral edible oil) to the peanut butter and stirring until you get the consistency that you want again.  

However, this can be a sign that it will spoil easier since it has less fat in it and it's texture drier. If you're not keen on eating the rest of that dried up peanut butter, you can toss it out for a jar that has that perfectly creamy consistency again. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

4 The peanut butter has lost its flavor. 

If the peanut butter passed all those other tests but doesn't pass the taste test, your peanut butter may not be spoiled but it may have lost its flavor. This happens when a jar has been opened for a long time and it hasn't been consumed within the recommended expiry date since it's been opened. While this doesn't mean your jar of peanut butter has spoiled, it can be a situation where you no longer want to eat the peanut butter. It's as good as spoiled. 




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