Peanut butter is a pantry staple in many households, but is it actually supposed to stay in the pantry? Or, should you refrigerate your peanut butter jar to keep it fresh? We connected with the experts for answers.
"You don't need to store your peanut butter in the refrigerator unless the package recommends it. Always check the package, but most supermarket peanut butters can be stored, opened, safely in a kitchen cabinet [after being opened]," Amy C. Keating, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and the program leader at Consumer Reports, tells Hunker. "If you prefer to store it in the refrigerator, you certainly can and it may extend the quality (freshness) over time."
With freshness in mind, Isabel Maples, a nutritionist and registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Hunker that you should think about how quickly you consume a jar of peanut butter. Whether you buy conventional or natural peanut butter is another factor to consider.
"Regular peanut butter is fine on a cool, dark pantry shelf," Maples says. "It will keep there for 2-3 months. Even better is to store it upside down, to keep the oils mixed in. If you don't use it within that time, store it in the fridge instead, where it'll keep 6-9 months." Because it has added fats that extend its shelf life, regular peanut butter is able to be stored longer.
As for natural peanut butter, which typically contains only peanuts and salt, Maples states that it will last a month on a pantry shelf. In the refrigerator, it can be stored for several months.
You'll know when your peanut butter has gone bad because it will start to smell rancid. If you dip food in the peanut butter, you might also end up seeing mold that will contaminate the whole jar. That's why Maples recommends using a clean knife whenever you want to put peanut butter on food.