If you are a sour cream lover, you are probably aware of the one major drawback of sour cream-it has a very short lifespan. After opening the container, it is only a matter of a few weeks before it starts to spoil. But can you freeze sour cream?
Many sour cream lovers are always wondering how they can extend the shelf life. The challenge is that even with freezing, sour cream still doesn’t last very long.
However, with a few savvy tips and tricks, you can ensure that you continue to enjoy your sour cream, for a few more days.
What Is Sour Cream? And the Sour Cream Recipe
Sour cream, unlike yogurt and other fermented dairy products, is made by combining cream and milk. Lactic acid and bacteria are then added to the mixture.
The mixture is then allowed to sit and sour over time.
One feature of sour cream that sets it apart from the rest of the dairy products is its high-fat content. Indeed once complete, the sour cream will have around 20% fat.
Compare this to yogurt which is around 10 to 12% fat. When you buy sour cream, it will often come with extra additives and preservatives. These include sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, calcium sulfate, and potassium sorbate.
With basic ingredients, however, you can make your delish sour cream. It acts as a great condiment to food and can also be used as a dipping sauce. You can also make your sauces and your soups thicker using sour cream.
But that is not all, sour cream can also be great for baking as it helps to increase the moisture level.
One thing to ensure when making your sour cream is that the cream contains the right amount of fat. This is around 18% and above.
Does Sour Cream Go Bad?
The simple answer is yes, sour cream will go bad after some time. There is no hard-cut rule to this and the time it takes for sour cream to go bad will depend on several factors.
First, refrigeration can help sour cream last a bit longer. Note however that refrigeration doesn’t influence the shelf life by a long margin and eventually the sour cream will go bad.
Without refrigeration, sour cream can be expected to last between one and two weeks after the expiration date.
That said, you can expect your sour cream to last anywhere up to three weeks if it has been stored in a fridge after the expiration date. This is assuming the refrigeration temperature is 00F.
One of the main telltale signs that your sour cream has started to go bad is an off smell that can also be described as rancid. You may also notice that the sour cream is changing color.
Thirdly also check for signs of mold. If you see this then you should discard the sour cream immediately.
But why does sour cream go bad?
Both the cream and milk start with a pasteurization process that kills any bacteria. New bacteria however is then introduced to the mixture. This also means there is a possibility of unwanted bacteria contamination the sour cream which contributes to it going bad.
Tips for Freezing Sour Cream
When storing sour cream in the freezer then there are a few tips that you can use to help prolong its shelf life.
Firstly, always ensure that the sour cream is fresh. Do not store sour cream that has been opened or has stayed for over a week out of the freezer.
Keep in mind that even while sour cream is frozen, it will continue to deteriorate. This is why you must use all of it as soon as you can.
Thirdly determine how much sour cream you use and divide the portions as per this quantity. This will ensure that you don’t always have to take the sour cream out of the freezer, defrost it and then defrost it again all of which can speed up the rate of going bad.
To ensure there is no bacteria colonization of the sour cream, ensure that you never put it back into the freezer after it has thawed.
How to Freeze Sour Cream?
Freezing sour cream is a lot more than just putting the cream in the freezer. There are a few steps you need to follow.
First off, blend the sour cream. This allows the watery moisture to mix perfectly with the ream. This helps retain the texture the next time you need to use the sour cream.
Never freeze sour cream that is close to expiring. Instead, freeze fresh sour cream for the best results.
Ensure also that before you put the sour cream in the freezer that you use the right packaging and containers. You can use a jar or a Ziploc bag.
Let the sour cream spread as soon as it has started to freeze. Before you seal the containers and the Ziploc bags, ensure that you have removed all the air.
Mark the dates when you put the sour cream in the refrigerator. This will help you avoid using bad sour cream in your food.
What Happens When Sour Cream is Frozen
When you freeze your sour cream and then take it out of the fridge to use it after a few days, the first thing that you will notice is a difference in texture. Due to this fact, it is best to use frozen sour cream in your soups, and dishes.
One thing to always keep in mind is that freezing your sour cream doesn’t stop it from going bad. The time when your sour cream is freshest is at the time you put it in the fridge for the first time. Freezing will only slow down the process of going bad.
Due to this, it is best to put your sour cream in the fridge when it is fresh.
When you take the sour cream from the fridge and it defrosts, you will notice that it has become lumpy. Fresh sour cream on the other hand is smooth.
The reason for this change in texture is the separation of the fat and the moisture resulting in a coagulated texture.
How Long Does Sour Cream Last in the Fridge?
Sour cream has a specific shelf life. You must use the sour cream within this time otherwise it will go bad and become dangerous to consume.
The major reason why sour cream quickly goes bad is due to contamination with fungus and unhealthy bacteria.
When you buy sour cream, there will be an expiration date on the container. Generally, you can expect to use the sour cream for one or two weeks after the date of expiration. This is provided that the container remains airtight and that the sour cream is not contaminated.
Storing sour cream in the fridge can help prolong its shelf life by over three weeks above its expiration date.
Even while in the fridge you must ensure that you observe certain measures. Firstly, the container should be air-tight to prevent bacteria from accessing it. Secondly, the temperature needs to be just right below 400F.
Keep in mind however that even while observing proper storage measures, the sour cream will lose its texture.
It is still important that even after storing sour cream in the freezer that you always check for signs of going bad before using it. A rancid smell and any signs of mold should prompt you to discard the sour cream immediately.
How Long Does Sour Cream Last After Opening It?
Okay, so you can only use your sour cream after opening it. What gets most people worried is how fast sour cream goes bad. It doesn’t have a particularly impressive shelf life.
Opening sour cream also gives unhealthy bacteria, fungus, and molds a chance to get into the sour cream. It is these that are responsible for the sour cream going bad.
But how long can you expect to continue using the sour cream after opening the container for the first time?
While it depends on how well you store the sour cream. You can typically expect to use it for one or two weeks after opening the container.
How to Use Frozen Sour Cream
The first step to using frozen sour cream is to let it thaw. You can do this by taking it out of the freezer or and into the fridge then giving it a day or so to thaw by itself.
However, if you are in a bit of a rush and you need to use the frozen sour cream immediately then you may want to add it into the food while still frozen. It will thaw by itself quite quickly.
According to health experts, you should avoid using sour cream as toppings as the risk of bacterial infections is high. And it should not be used as a topping for a salad dressing.
That said you can add the frozen sour cream in your soups and in stews to help make them thicker. You may even want to consider adding sour cream to pancakes for extra flavor.
Adding sour cream can help add more protein content to your smoothies.
How to Thaw Sour Cream
Sour cream can add amazing texture and taste to dishes. But first, you need to take it from the fridge and ensure it is in the best condition.
Firstly, take your sour cream out of the freeze and into the fridge a day prior. This allows it to thaw (melt) in about 24 hours.
Never let your sour cream thaw outside of the fridge at room temperature. This can introduce unwanted bacteria causing it to go bad much quicker.
If you find that the texture is lumpy or is coagulated, put it in the blender and mix well.
Don’t worry if the sour cream is not mixing well or getting a smooth and consistent texture. As long as it doesn’t smell bad or contain any discoloration or mold, then you can still use it.
Tips for Thawing Sour Cream
There is a right and a wrong way to thaw your sour cream. To ensure you are safe and that your sour cream does not get bad bacteria:
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing at room temperature as this will only add bad bacteria to the sour cream. Even if you are tempted as thawing at room temp is quicker it is prudent to ensure good and safe practice.
Remember to only thaw the amount of sour cream that you need and leave the rest in the freezer.
If you don’t want to leave the sour cream in the refrigerator to thaw, and you want to use it immediately, then you can put it in the microwave. Ensure that the container is microwave friendly and that you use moderate heat to avoid ruining the texture and the taste.
Tips for Using Thawed Sour Cream
It is not recommended to use thawed sour cream for dips and toppings. However, it is a great choice when cooking.
Some tips to get you going:
Sour cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks even after the expiration date. Note however that the flavor will change the longer the sour cream stays with the best flavor the fresher the sour cream is.
Avoid at all costs cooking with spoiled sour cream. Color is a good indication. In case you notice pink or green coloration, get rid of it.
To prevent the sour cream from curdling, you can add a single tablespoon of floor to around a half cup of sour cream.
Sour cream is a great addition to your cooking and baking. Can you freeze sour cream? The answer is a resounding yes! While it doesn’t have the longest shelf life, proper storage can ensure you enjoy your sour cream for weeks to come. From sour cream apple pie to a sour cream chicken casserole, you can make some mouthwatering dishes using sour cream.