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How Long Does Sour Cream Last? Can It Go Bad?

So, you’ve added some sour cream into a potato dauphinoise a few days back. After you used it, you’ve sealed it up as best you could and put it away until the next time it was needed. Trouble is, you haven’t found yourself needing any sour cream at all in the last while. So, that gets you wondering, “Is this still good?” Well, if this is the kind of situation you have found yourself in, then you’ve come to the right place. We have scoured the internet in order to find out how long sour cream can last, how best to store it for a longer lifespan, and how to tell if it isn’t worth using anymore. If this is the info you are after, read on!


Does Sour Cream Go Bad?


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The odd thing about sour cream is that, when you think about it, it kind of has already gone off. At the very least, we can consider it to dwell in that gray area between ‘fresh’ and ‘soured’. I say this because of the unique way in which it is made. Sour cream is made by introducing certain kinds of lactic bacteria into the cream. This causes the mixture to ferment and sour, producing that unique flavor we all know and love. But, we can consider these bacterial cultures as good. Unfortunately, over time, bad bacteria can also take hold, causing the shift from ‘sour’ cream to ‘gone off’ cream. There is no way to prevent this from happening. Luckily, we can delay the process somewhat. Below, we explain how.


How Do I Store Sour Cream?


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Naturally, the key to keeping your sour cream from becoming unsafe for consumption is by using the right storage techniques. Here’s how it’s done!

Unopened containers

Unopened containers of sour cream are much easier to protect than their opened counterparts. The fact that they have definitely remained sealed and unexposed to the environment in your kitchen prevents any foreign bodies from entering the cream. So, in essence, all you really need to do with sour cream is to store it in the fridge the moment you bring it home. To really nail it, the container is best stored away from the door where temperatures can be prone to change. These changes can cause your sour cream, or indeed any other form of dairy product to go off much quicker. Away from the fridge, a container of sour cream can go off within a matter of hours. So, whatever you do, don’t leave it on the countertop, even if you intend to use it later that day.

Opened containers

Once exposed to the air in your kitchen, the number of things that can go wrong multiplies tenfold. It really does not deal well with exposure to light, heat, air, foreign bodies – the list goes on! So, the only thing to do is to reseal the container straight away after it has been used. Some containers will have a foil lid. If this is the case, it is best to transfer the remaining contents straight away after it has been opened. If this isn’t done, the sour cream will absorb the stray odors in the fridge almost immediately. It can also dry out over time with too much exposure to air. Sour cream is essentially a very fragile food type. Even such a small thing like using an unwashed spoon to empty the contents can cause the sour cream to spoil within a day or so. So, always reseal and always use the cleanest of utensils.


Should You Refrigerate Sour Cream?


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Though some forms of dairy cream are shelf-stable, this is simply not the case with sour cream. At least, we’ve never seen a shelf-stable one. This means that there is no other way around it other than to refrigerate it at all times. Because of this, it isn’t the best product to stockpile. If you are short on fridge space, only buy as much as you need.


Can You Freeze Sour Cream?

At some point or another, I’m willing to bet that any of you reading this have had to reluctantly throw away some suspect looking sour cream. Well, here’s a tip that might prevent that from happening again! Amazingly, sour cream can be frozen! However, this does come with a caveat. After freezing and thawing, the texture of the sour cream will be altered, but all of the right notes of flavor will remain. So, for cooking and baking purposes, freezing is perfectly acceptable – just don’t use it in a dipping sauce afterward! For best results use relatively fresh sour cream, whip it up really well, and then transfer it into an airtight container. By doing this, you will stop the contents from separating during freezing and the sour cream should last for anywhere up to 6 months.


How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

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Unopened containers

Like any other dairy product, your sour cream will arrive complete with a sell-by date, which, though important, doesn’t mean that the sour cream won’t still be good after this date has passed. See, this is only the date that the store has to sell it by. After that, there is still a grace period where the sour cream will be totally usable. If the sour cream has been transported correctly and stored cautiously, we would suggest that sour cream will keep for up to a week after the sell-by date, sometimes even a day or two longer.

Opened containers

As soon as the container is opened, the clock starts ticking for your sour cream. Beyond scooping it out into an airtight container and putting it into the freezer, there just isn’t any way of keeping it for a prolonged period of time. But, if the container is resealed properly and kept away from the front of the fridge, it can last for a reasonable amount of time. We would recommend using it within a week after the date it was opened. After this, though it may not necessarily have gone off yet, it will not be worth using.


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How Long Does Sesame Oil Last? Can It Go Bad?

How Do I Make Sour Cream Last Longer?


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Fedinchyk Tetiana/


Giant containers of sour cream can be a mixed blessing. On one hand, you have seemingly infinite amounts of sour cream. On the other hand, it all has to be used in a pretty short timeframe. Unfortunately, if you intend to use the sour cream for dipping, there is no ‘hack’ that will make it last longer than we have stated above. However, if you are using it for things such as baking or thickening soups, it can be frozen. When frozen, the sour cream will change in texture and appearance, but the flavor will still be there up to 6 months later!


Signs That Your Sour Cream May Have Gone Off

Sometimes things go wrong even if you have done everything right. The sour cream may have been transported or stored incorrectly by the time you got your hands on it. In these cases, it is best to be able to recognize the early signs of spoilage. In some cases, you may have noticed that the contents may have separated over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean the sour cream has spoiled as such. To remedy this, simply stir it all back together again and then assess its condition once more. If the sour cream doesn’t reconstitute, or there are any signs of discoloration or mold, it is time to chuck it out. Another tell-tale sign of spoilage is the smell of the sour cream. Though the smell is definitely somewhat sour in nature, if there is any strengthening of this odor, it will point to the fact that there is some unwelcome bacterial growth present. Finally, should the sour cream have passed these inspections, the only thing left to do is to have a tiny taste of it. If you notice that it tastes more bitter than usual, it is time for it to go!

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