heavy cream safety feat

How long does heavy cream last? Can it go bad?

Your desserts, pastries, baked goods, butter, soups, sauces, sour cream, or coffee are not complete without a touch of heavy cream. Would you agree? There is just something about heavy cream that makes food look and taste special. 


Heavy cream, also popularly known as heavy whipping cream, is a perfect cream that is easier to whip to solid peaks. This is a type of cream made from the high-fat part of fresh milk containing 36 to 40% milkfat. Yes, heavy cream is the winner for having the highest fat content, among other dairy products. That’s the secret of your sinful heavy whipping cream, alright. No wonder we can quickly gain some extra pounds! But I bet most of you would still dive into this delicious and creamy temptation, right? It is just hard to resist at times too. 


Sometimes, it can’t be helped that there are times that you would forget to return your heavy cream back in the fridge. While leaving it under room temperature won’t ruin your heavy cream in just a few exaggerating seconds, it is still essential that you should understand the reason why you should store your heavy cream properly and safely. Furthermore, you have to know what actions to take so you can extend its shelf life to maximize everything of your purchased product for a longer time. What do you do with it if you only used half of the heavy cream? How long can you keep it?


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This post will give you helpful tips on storage, shelf life, and spoilage of heavy cream. If you are curious about this, just read on!


How to store heavy cream?


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Here’s what you need to do to maximize the shelf life of your heavy cream, 

  1. Make sure that the seal or the lid of the heavy cream’s container is tightly closed. 
  2. You have to store it properly inside the refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Preferably, place it in the coldest part of your refrigerator or close to the cooling air vent to maximize its freshness. Never store your heavy cream on the shelves of your fridge’s door because its temperature is not as cold as placed near the air vent.
  3. Just take your heavy cream out of the refrigerator when it is time to use it. You will then have to return it to the fridge immediately as soon as you finished using it. As much as possible, do not let it sit for some time outside your refrigerator. Do not forget to seal it before putting it back inside the fridge. 
  4. Actually, there is no need to transfer your heavy cream to a new container once you open it. Just simply keep it in its original packaging and close it properly to prevent the contaminants from feasting on your heavy cream. If you can’t help it for some reason, transferring it to a clean airtight container will be okay. 


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Can I freeze heavy cream?

Well, manufacturers would not encourage you to freeze heavy cream, as this will affect the texture of the product. High chances are, your heavy cream will not be perfect for whipping anymore. 


However, nothing or no one can stop you if you prefer to store your heavy cream in the freezer, though. Apparently, you can freeze it if you want to keep it for a more extended period. But, your heavy cream may turn out separated and grainy once it is thawed. If this happens, you can still use heavy cream at this state to cook creamy soups and casseroles or for baking pies. 


If you are going to freeze heavy cream in an airtight container, make sure to give at least a half-inch of headspace at the top. Why? That is because heavy cream will normally expand when it is frozen. 

When thawing frozen heavy cream, place it in the refrigerator and not at room temperature.


Can it go bad?


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Yes, heavy cream is classified as a high perishable product. Heavy cream is a milk component that carries bacteria from the udder or mammary glands of cors and from the environment where they are sourced from. Although there are indeed food safety regulations for milk, bacteria can always find its way to survive and grow. You should still be concerned about the idea that harmful bacteria and fungi feasting on your heavy cream could give your foodborne illness. 


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Dairy products commonly harbor different deadly food pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, enteropathic E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella species, and Brucella species. These bacteria can potentially cause foodborne illness symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, malaise, stomach pain, and gastroenteritis symptoms.


Even if it is pasteurized, it is still possible that there will be a few bacteria left that weren’t killed in the process. From there, they can happily multiply over time, spoil your heavy cream, and they will become concentrated enough to make you sick. 


How long does it last?


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Your heavy cream’s shelf life relies mainly on the extent of the storage conditions you have provided. Again, always keep your heavy cream refrigerated at all times. 


Ideally, it is not advisable to leave cold perishable items like your heavy cream under room temperature for more than 2 hours. On a hot weather day of above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it should not stay outside the cold storage for an hour. Once your heavy cream reaches 40 degrees F, it becomes a habitable environment for potentially harmful microorganisms to thrive and multiply.


Always check the heavy cream’s label for “Sell-by,” date, “Best-buy” date, or expiration date. Note that An ultra-pasteurized heavy cream has a more extended expiration date as it was briefly heated to an ultra-high temperature to kill pathogenic microorganisms. 


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Under continuous refrigeration, an unopened carton of heavy cream will hold its prime for 2 to 3 weeks or even up to a month.


Once you have opened a carton of heavy cream, it will last in your fridge for 4 days after its “sell-by” date.


In the freezer, you can keep your heavy cream frozen for up to 4 months.


How to tell if it has already gone bad?

When in doubt, throw it out. Never use a heavy cream that has these following signs of spoilage:

  • Sour smell and taste
  • Curdling
  • Heavy separation
  • Off-color
  • Thick and clumpy texture
  • Mold growth

There will be times that your thawed heavy cream may separate. In that state, that does not mean that it has already gone bad. Instead, the butterfat of your heavy cream has settled to the bottom part of the carton or container. As long as it is not curdled or sour-smelling, you can quickly fix this by shaking the box or container vigorously to combine the cream back to its uniform mixture.

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