Originally Posted by Caine
Butter? Who refrigerates butter? Are you aware that butter goes from the manufacturer to the wharehouse, to the store, without any refrigeration until the store gets it? Butter will last for at least two weeks, usually more unless you live in the desert, just kept inside a dark cupboard or pantry.
Are you sure of that? I believe that health regulations in every state require that butter be kept refrigerated at the dairy, in the warehouse, during shipping, and at the store.
According to the Wisconsin Dairy Council, which presumably knows a thing or two about the subject, butter can be safely kept out for no more than 2 hours. Butter can be stored wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. For longer storage, freeze in a freezer back for up to six months.
See this site: http://tinyurl.com/jdayo
The site states that "The fat in [butter] will go rancid if left out at room temperature for extended periods of time."
However, the site also notes that the reasons for refrigerating butter have more to due with quality than with food safety because butter doesn't support the rapid growth of microorganisms. They say it's generally safe to eat until it's "very rancid."
Aside from protecting the taste, I prefer to play it safe and refrigerate my butter, and I freeze the extra (I don't use it much except in cooking). I find that it softens quickly enough for my needs, and a few seconds in the microwave will hurry things along if necessary. When I need butter for baking, I do leave it out for an hour or so, along with the eggs and milk I'm going to use.