Canning – you use a jar

I received an email ad today from one of my regulars about buying up the last stock available on their website of canned meats, cheese and butter, once it’s gone, it’s gone. That prompted a flurry of searching for the best prices on these items. In the process I ran across an article about canning your own cheese. I already knew about canning butter, but didn’t think about canning cheese too.

DISCLAIMER: The methods discussed in this article for canning cheese and butter are not approved or recommended by the powers that be (FDA), neither I or anyone associated with this website are responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using anything discussed here. You are responsible for your own actions and consequences of trying anything I write about here.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled article. There is nothing new about canning, you can find commercially canned butter and cheese. But if you are willing to put in a bit of time and effort, you can easily can your own cheese and butter. Just think, you find a great deal on cheese and butter, you pick up a large quantity of each, you go home and get out your canning supplies and get to work. In a few hours you will have your own supply of cheese and butter that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and should last quite a long time.

First we can discuss canning butter, it’s the easiest of the two to make, it doesn’t even require a water bath! Be sure to use a good quality, full fat butter, salted is better, it lasts longer. Do not try this with margarine or spreads, it will not work.

Canned Butter
1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4″ of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids “ping,” shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

7. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. (It does last a long time. We have just used up the last of the butter we canned in 1999, and it was fine after 5 years.) Canned butter does not “melt” again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

This recipe came from

there are many other great ideas on this site, including “hamburger rocks”, that’s canned hamburger pieces.

Here is a recipe for canned cheese.

Home canned “soft cheese” has better cooking properties than store bought bottled cheese meant for snack food. It contains no preservatives and is more economical than commercial products for cooking purposes. These instructions yield a product that is similar to “Cheese Whiz”, yet better tasting for a recipe of macaroni and cheese. This simple to do recipe for home canned cheese will keep for 2 years plus.


* 1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
* 1 T. vinegar

* ½ tsp. salt
* 1 lb. Velveeta cheese or any processed cheese
* ½ tsp. dry mustard

Melt milk and cheese in double boiler. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Fill pint jars about 3/4 full and seal. Place in Boiling Water bath for 10 minutes.

This recipe came from

Here is another recipe for canned cheese.

When I heard about canning butter, I was also told that you can do cheese the same way. Here’s what I do. I’ve only canned cheddar cheese, but I suppose it would work for any hard cheese. As with the canning butter recipe, I could not find any “approved” method in any of my books, and when I called the extension service, I was told that canning cheese like this was not an approved method by the FDA. Sooooooo, use at your own risk. This is just for information and to let you know what I do. Remember, this is not an FDA approved method.

Since the original writing of this post I have used this with Cheddar Cheeses, Swiss Cheese, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, and even Cream Cheese (regular, not the soft kind in the tubs). All have worked beautifully, even the Cream Cheese. I have used them as long as 5 years after canning and have not become sick from any of them, even when eating the cheese right out of the jar. But, again, the FDA says that this is not an approved way to preserve cheese, so . . . use at your own risk. I have found that the flavor of all the canned cheese intensifies a bit over time, but it is not at all unpleasant. We prefer it. The Mozzarella Cheese darkened a bit, but it did not seem to affect the flavor, except that like the others, it was more flavorful.

There are really 2 ways. I used to melt the cheese in a double boiler, then spoon it into the sterilized jars. Sometimes the cheese sticks to the bottom of the pan, and the whole thing is a big, gloppy mess.

Here’s better way that’s cleaner, faster and easier.

1. I sterilize wide mouth pint jars (wide mouth half-pint jars may be used) in a 250 degree oven for at least 20 minutes. Since it’s harder to regulate a woodburning cookstove oven to that low a temperature, mine is usually hotter. Since you’ll process the cheese in a boiling water bath for awhile, this probably isn’t necessary, but I think it’s safer, so it’s what I do.

2. Sterilize new canning lids according to package instructions. I let them simmer in water about 5 minutes, then keep them in hot water until I need them.

3. Now I either cut up the cheese, or if it’s frozen I crumble it and pack it into clean, dry pint jars. Then I place the jars (without lids) on a rack in my boiling water bath canner, to which I have already added some water. Do not put the lid on the canner while the cheese is melting. You want the water to come about halfway up the jars. Any higher and it bubbles into the jars if it gets to boiling. Then, as the cheese melts, I add more cheese until the cheese fills the jars to within about ½ inch of the top.

4. When all melted, I remove the jars from the canner, wipe the rims, and seal the jars. Then I proceed with the boiling water bath for 40 minutes. (I use the Extension Service method of doing a boiling water bath.) When ready, remove jars from water with a jar lifter. Leave undisturbed until completely cooled. Check to make sure all the lids have sealed before labeling and storing.

As with butter, 11 pounds will fill about 12 1/2 pint jars — or just over 3/4 pound per pint jar. We keep ours in the cache year round. We’ve eaten cheese that I canned like this several years earlier and it was delicious. It tends to get a little sharper, which I like. It doesn’t melt as good as fresh cheese, but when you’re in the bush and don’t have fresh cheese, it’s more than acceptable any way you’d use fresh cheese! During the winter, we usually keep cheese stored in buckets outside so it stays frozen. But, like meat, come springtime with the warmer temperatures, I start canning.

To remove the cheese from the jar, there are basically two ways. You could place the jar in a pan of water (loosen the lid a bit first), and then place that pan in another pan of boiling (or hot) water. This melts the outside of the cheese and will help it slip out of the jar. But, it also heats the cheese, which may or may not be desirable. I usually just run a knife between the cheese and the jar. Sometimes the cheese will slide right out, but usually I have to sort of cut and pull it out in chunks.

I usually can butter in regular mouth jars because I don’t try to take it out of the jar all in one piece. That would be hard with cheese.

This recipe came from

Thanks Jenny for the update!

I hope I have inspired you to dig our your canning jars and run to the store next time there is a sale on butter and cheese! Be sure to visit the websites listed above, they have lots of great information.

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  • Yes, I know, thus the warnings, canning ANYTHING is risky, some things are more risky than others…

  • Jessi

    @Matt: Also, this is a paper on even purchasing canned butter:
    It isn’t recommended since there is no thermal processing step and botulism CAN grow in butter.

  • Jessi

    @Matt, actually, the FDA says that botulism can grow things with a water activity above .85, so it could actually grow in the butter:
    And with a pH of 6.1-6.4, butter has a pH too high to prevent botulism (to prevent botulism, a pH of 4.6 or lower is required). Just be aware.



  • Cina

    I have been doing butter like this for about a year and we LOVE it!! Moving on to cheese thanks for the info. Has anyone used a pressure canner for the cheese and if so can you tell me a prosseing time for it?? Thanks again.

  • Hi Sharon, thanks for the question, you will need to follow the links in the article and ask your questions there. I assume they are referring to regular white vinegar since they don’t specify a particular type. There is so little in this recipe that I doubt it would make that much difference, I’d go with the white vinegar, but if you really want to make 100% sure, follow the link and ask there.


  • Sharon

    What kind of vinegar are you useing for canning soft cheese? I do not know if it is white vinegar you can get in gallon jugs or if it is the red you buy in smal bottles. Thanks for your help.

  • Bobby, thanks for some great questions, but personally I don’t know, you might go to the website posted in the article and ask there, I’m sure if someone has tried it, they would know about it. My thoughts are that the temps may be too high and it would make the butter and the cheese grainy.


  • Bobby

    I started pressure canning meats. Has anyone considered or tried pressure canning butter or cheese? I can see that if it get up to the pressure canning temps, it might boil over and make a huge mess. I’ll try it unless it has been tried and failed already. Any thoughts?

  • Thanks Sheralyn, it’s good to hear something positive about canning butter, especially from someone with experience. Hope you are able to do the cheese for your family, let me know how it works out. :)


  • Sheralyn

    I have been canning butter for a few years and never had a problem with it. it is a staple in our food storage. I knew there had to be a way to do hard cheese and cannot wait to try it. Thank goodness someone figured out how has my children are allergic to process cheese.

  • Thanks Cindy, please let me know how it turns out. :)


  • cindy

    my husband used this method for canning butter, it came out great! i’ve been wanting to do the cheeses but the only recipe we found was for the processed cheese. thanks for posting jenny’s instructions for canning hard cheese. i believe i will be busy canning later!

  • Matt

    @Bunny: The water activity (google it – and don’t confuse water percentage w/ water activity) of butter is too low to support the growth of C. Botulinum. Botulism needs water activity > 0.97 and salted butter has a water activity value of about 0.90.

    Botulism isn’t a concern with canned salted butter. That said, I wouldn’t water bath can it, though. I’d pressure can it to make sure it gets plenty hot to inactivate any enzymes that might alter the flavor of the butter over time.

  • Tori and Tiffany, I would suggest contacting Jenny at this site and asking her.

  • Tori

    No one seems to have answered Tiffany and I want to know the same thing… is the cheese suppose to seperate? Or is there something or a step missing?

  • lyn

    Wow, I can’t believe I found this recipe! I was just looking into spending cash on some of the Red Feather cheese, but now I want to try this! I hope to try this soon so I can add it to my food storage. Thanks.

  • Hi Heather, I would say that you’d need to use a pressure canner to process it, I doubt that the water bath method would be safe for this sort of food. Use the links I provided in the article to talk to more experienced canners. :)


  • Heather

    Interesting article!! I am new to canning so bear with me. I found a recipie today for “Spaghetti-Os” and would love to make it in large quantities and can it. Would this be safe to do in a water bath canner? It has milk, butter and cheese in it so I wasn’t sure if this would be safe to can. It does have a tomato sauce base, but it doesn’t appear there are any ingredients to act as a preservative (ie vinegar, lemon juice, etc). Would this be better for a pressure canner? Thanks for any help you can give!!

  • Bunny, all canning can be dangerous if not done properly, you can get sick from commercially canned foods as well, you just have to be careful, be clean, follow the directions, use fresh food when canning and (IMHO) canning dairy is no more risky than canning other foods.

  • Bunny

    This is so unsafe! Anything dairy cannot be safely canned at home. You can get botulism poisoning which is deadly. In fat like this the botulism spores become encapsulated and are not killed in the canning process. Put your butter and cheese in the freezer — it is safer!

  • Thanks katlupe, I’ll have to try the ghee, I knew it didn’t need to be refrigerated, just haven’t tried it yet. Most of the time, I don’t refrigerate my butter, I just get out one stick at a time and it gets used up pretty quickly, I haven’t had one go bad on me yet, unless you count the one I put in a small cookie tin and forgot about. :)


  • I have canned both with good results. But recently I have read many people who have been canning butter are afraid to do it now since they had some go bad. Now I am experimenting with a better method of canning the cheese and maybe the butter too. I am going to to melt the cheese in a double boiler like you do for a cheese sauce. Then pour it into the sterilized small jelly canning jars and then water bath can it. It seems to me the cheese needs to be melted and hot then poured into the jars. Butter is tricky because you have to shake it or it separates.

    For butter I am now making ghee. Google it. Needs no refrigeration.

  • Tiffany

    I canned my cheese in 1/2 pints. Now, the problem I am seeming to have is the oil is separating out from the cheese and settling on the top. Did you pour off that excess milk oil? Is there something I can do to stop that separation from occuring? It just doesn’t make for a nice looking product. I used shredded White Cheddar and used the double boiling method, where you set the jars in hot water, half way up the sides and let it melt into the jars. I would appreciate any help or suggestions to make it look more like the canned white cheddar that Kraft makes. What do your jars look like? are they uniformly colored with no separation? HELP!

  • Tropicsgal, we do have cold weather here, but we have hot weather too, I’m in the high desert. I would say that it should store as well as anything else you could can out there, as long as the jars sealed properly, it should be OK, of course your mileage may vary. I would suggest contacting Jenny at this site she can answer more questions about canning cheese and butter than I could.

  • Tropicsgal

    Thanks for your article! Can you can butter and cheese to store if you are in the tropics? Sounds like you store it in cold weather – how long do you think it would store in the tropics, where our weather goes from 60 degees F – 90 degrees F? Would the weather factor in for other canned items?

  • Thanks for sharing on canning butter and cheese. I appreciate the valuable help you offer. I am going to get to it and put back some butter and cheese.

  • Hi Debbie, I don’t know why it would be grainy, the only thing I can think of is maybe the butter got too hot and the butter solids separated, the graininess might be the butter solids, not really sure though, here is a good place to ask for sure

  • Debbie A

    I loved the idea of canning butter and tried one jar today with plans to do more tomorrow. One question: the butter is well blended again but has a grainy texture. Is there a way to solve that or did I not heat it long enough, or maybe something else? Would appreciate your advice.

  • Thanks Vicky, let me know if you try it. :)

  • This is truly fascinating, I guess, because I grew up in the city– who would’ve thought such a thing as canning butter– but it certainly makes a lot of sense after reading about it!

  • Good question Len, I was able to contact Jenny, the original author of that recipe, she was kind enough to reply:

    I only can cheese in wide mouth jars. Then I take something like a butter knife or frosting spreader and go around between the jar and the cheese. Sometimes it comes right out, but other times I just have to sort of cut/pull it out in chunks. One method I’ve heard is to heat the jar for a few minutes in a double boiler (place the jar in water in one pan, and then place that pan in another pan of boiling water. The cheese will slide out easier, but of course, then it’s warm. That may or may not be desirable, depending on what you plan to do with it.

  • Len

    Umm, ok. I can see how things work with the butter or processed cheese. How do you get the “hard” cheese out of the jar? Does it remain soft enough to use a knife? Or do you have to heat it till soft to get the cheese out?