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I bought butter in 1/4 sticks (one pound box) and left it in my trunk by accident. It's been very cold 35-50° F (2-10° C) at night/day. It's been 48 hours.

Can I still use it? It's still in it's original container/box.

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Yes, that should be fine. Plenty of people keep butter on the counter, so a couple days at below 50 is no big deal.

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Being one of those who leave butter out on a regular basis, it should be fine. Oxygen will make the butter go bad faster, but since it's still in the box and tightly wrapped in paper, you probably won't notice any difference. That and the fact that the temperature in your trunk probably stays on the cooler side of the range during the winter, it wasn't warm enough to cause any damange. – FoodTasted Nov 19 '10 at 23:02
@FoodTasted: I am fairly certain that the primary means of oxidation in butter is photo-oxidation (not oxygen, despite it sounding similar to "oxidation"). Leaving butter unwrapped might cause it to lose moisture faster, but the real risk for rancidity is leaving it exposed to light. – Aaronut Nov 19 '10 at 23:56
Like FoodTasted, we also keep a permanent stick of "counter butter" in a light-proof butter dish and have had no issues. The few rare times the butter went bad, it was plenty evident before it got near our mouths. – stephennmcdonald Nov 20 '10 at 4:05
@Aaronut, There are 2 times of oxydation of dairy products, autooxidation, which involves the catalytic deterioration of lipids in the presence of oxygen and Photo-catalysed oxidation which is the reaction to light. In either case, oxygen plays a roll as described at the following site: Either way, the less you have of each, the better off you are. – FoodTasted Nov 20 '10 at 6:08

Rancid butter smells funny. It should be fairly evident if it is bad. You can leave butter out of the fridge for a period of time, so I'd imagine it should be okay. You're still a fair bit colder than room temperature as well.

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I've had butter that smelled and initially tasted fine, but the aftertaste was distinctly rancid; probably just on the edge. – Nick T Nov 21 '10 at 2:54

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