*Disclaimer: No one in authority ever said that canning butter was safe. Common sense dictates you do what you can to protect yourself and your family. Also, I say “can butter” but, in reality, it’s not canned – just stored in convenient jars for longer storage in a freezer or fridge. I leave the rings on to help contain the seal produced; something you wouldn’t have to do when doing pressure-cooking or hot-water-bath canning. The seal we produce by doing it this way helps with the shaking of the butter to keep it mixed up. The semi-seal plus the ring keeps everything from flying all over the kitchen while shaking.*
Having said that, I was handed a recipe for storing butter. It was typed up and had been passed around a local church as a way of preparing for any eventuality that might restrict access to a grocery store.
Anyone who wishes to preserve some butter should leave it in the fridge or freezer after canning it. It’s preserved and kept below the temperature of anything being able to grow. The jars just make it easier to store.
To start, use high-quality stick butter. Do not use crock (plastic tub) butter. Put the desired amount in a saucepan on low heat to slowly melt. Stir it frequently but not roughly – you don’t want the white cream to form on the top. If this does happen, you can still use the butter, just stir it until it is well-mixed, again.
After sterilizing all the necessary parts and while the butter is melting, place the desired number of pint- or jelly-sized (freezer safe) jars in the oven on 250 degrees Fahrenheit to warm. Place the same number of lids in a smaller saucepan on the stove on medium heat to get them ready for the canning process.
If you are going to add any ingredients to the butter, make sure the step above is prepping while doing so. You want the liquid to be hot when you put it in the jars and, if you haven’t started the process of heating the jars and lids, it could cool before getting into the jars.
When all is ready, pour the butter in the jars. I leave about an inch of head space to facilitate the amount of shaking I will have to do to the jars as they “set.” Clean the rims to help with the sealing process and place lids and rings on. We’ll be shaking the jars a lot, so make sure to tighten the rings nice and good.
Set the hot jars on a wire cooling rack until you hear the distinctive “ping” of the lid sealing to the jar. When this happens (and it should, if your jars, butter and lids were hot enough), you can place the jars in the fridge. However, you must check and continue to shake the jars until the butter “sets.” You’ll know it is set because the ingredients (if added) or the butter itself will not separate any longer. You must continue shaking gently a time or two after it starts to set to make sure not residual ingredient settles on the bottom.
When you are completely finished, set your jars in a storage fridge/freezer. We’ve done this many times to great success and they are always gobbled up in short order. I’ve taken to making sure I’ve got some of the good quality stick butter on hand at all times to make more of whatever I run out of. I don’t really preserve butter this way so much as make things for my family to enjoy with their foods. And, it’s a great deal cheaper than what we purchase in the stores with the preservatives and whatnot added to it. I do recommend only doing as much as you can safely eat or store; there are no good recommendations for safely storing butter or butter products long-term if they are not kept frozen or in a fridge.
I have left these jars out on the counter after we’ve opened them. If used in a short span of time (a week, give or take), they are shelf-safe and will not grow mold.
However, the more you use the jar, the more you have to worry about adding mold-inducing ingredients to the jar. We had an incident where we unintentionally added some food to the jar of butter and left the lid on, causing mold in a weeks’ time.
Enjoy but be safe and knowledgeable about what you’re doing.