Sour cream is a delicious, dairy-based food that is used as a sauce, dressing, and an ingredient in many foods. However, most recipes and dishes only call for a few tablespoons of this delicious dairy product. This can mean that one tub of sour cream sits in your refrigerator for weeks at a time and it can be hard to tell whether or not your sour cream is still good.
On average, opened sour cream will stay fresh for 10-14 days. An unopened container of regular sour cream will stay good for anywhere from 2-4 weeks depending on how close to the expiration date the product is.
Like most dairy products, sour cream can cause food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses if consumed after it has spoiled. This is why it is important to know how long different types of sour cream last and how to tell if your sour cream has gone bad.
Does Sour Cream Ever Go Bad?
Sour cream, like just about every dairy product, will go bad over time or when stored in the incorrect conditions.
For sour cream to stay fresh, it must be stored outside of the “danger zone” which is from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Rapid bacterial growth occurs at these temperatures which can quickly spoil the sour cream. It should also be stored in an airtight container.
If the sour cream is not stored properly or is left at room temperature for more than two hours, rapid bacterial growth can occur and the sour cream will no longer be safe to eat. If you accidentally leave your sour cream out for more than two hours, you should throw it away to avoid contracting a foodborne illness.
How Long Is Sour Cream Good For?
The length of time that sour cream is good for will depend on whether or not the sour cream has been opened and the type of sour cream. Some varieties of sour cream, like reduced fat, will spoil more quickly than regular sour cream. Unopened sour cream also stays fresh longer than opened sour cream since it is not exposed to as much oxygen.
You can refer to the following chart to learn how long different types of sour cream will last in the fridge. Of course, you should always check the expiration date put on the product by the manufacturer. If the expiration date passes but you’ve only had the sour cream in your fridge for a week, you should still throw it away just to be safe.
|Type of Sour Cream
|Opened vs. Unopened
|Length of Time
|Regular Sour Cream
|Reduced Fat Sour Cream
|Sour Cream Dip
|Regular Sour Cream
How Do You Store Sour Cream?
There are two main ways that you can store sour cream, in the fridge or the freezer. Storing sour cream is the most common option and works best if you are planning on using your sour cream within a week or two. It will maintain the flavor and texture of the sour cream the best. Refrigerating your sour cream also requires the least amount of preparation.
Freezing your sour cream is a better option if you bought a large amount of sour cream and know you won’t use it before it goes bad. Freezing sour cream allows you to greatly extend the amount of time before the sour cream goes bad. However, it can alter the flavor and texture of the sour cream and does require extra preparation work.
On average, a regular tub of sour cream will last anywhere from two to four weeks in the refrigerator depending on how old the sour cream is when you purchase it.
Refrigerating is the best method for maintaining the texture and flavor of sour cream. There may be some separation between the liquids and the solids, but it is easy to reincorporate them with a quick stir.
Another benefit of refrigerating your sour cream is that you may be able to use the container it’s sold in for refrigeration. This means that you won’t have to do any crazy prep work before refrigerating the product.
- Use an Airtight Container
For this step feel free to use the container the sour cream was sold in as long as it’s still airtight. If the lid has come loose, you should transfer the sour cream to an airtight container. This will help to protect the sour cream from oxidation, one of the main processes responsible for spoiling food.
It will also protect your sour cream from taking on the scent or flavor of any of the more pungent foods in your refrigerator.
Always Use Clean Utensils
If you do decide to transfer the sour cream, make sure to use clean utensils to do so. Using dirty utensils or double dipping could lead to bacteria transfer. This can cause your sour cream to spoil more quickly and can also contaminate the sour cream with other flavors.
Unless you need to store your sour cream for a long period of time, it is best to avoid freezing it. Freezing your sour cream is a great preservation method, but it can change the flavor and texture of your sour cream over time. It can also cause the sour cream to separate into solids and liquids which will need to be recombined when thawed.
When freezing your sour cream, it is important to split it into smaller quantities. That way, you won’t have to thaw and refreeze the entire container of sour cream every time you need a spoonful for a recipe.
- Separate Into Smaller Containers
The first thing that you will want to do to freeze your sour cream is separate it into smaller batches. This will make it easier when it comes to thawing your sour cream. It will make the thawing process faster and you will also be able to thaw only as much as you need.
If you freeze it in one big batch, you will have to thaw and refreeze the big batch every time you want to use your sour cream.
One of the best containers to use for freezing sour cream is an ice cube tray. Then, when you’re ready to use it, you can simply pop out a couple of cubes, thaw them, then remix them while the rest stays solidly frozen.
- Use a Freezer Bag
This step is especially important if you decide to use an ice cube tray as your container. After you have separated all of your sour cream into its individual containers, you will want to place all of those containers in a freezer bag.
Make sure to squeeze as much of the air out as possible as this will prevent freezer burn. Although it is not dangerous, freezer burn can negatively impact the texture and flavor of your sour cream.
- Place It in the Freezer
After your containers are in their freezer bags, it is time to place them in the freezer. Try to place the containers on a level shelf. This will prevent the sour cream from spilling everywhere before it freezes and make a mess that will be difficult to clean without thawing the entire freezer.
The best way to thaw your sour cream is to place it in the refrigerator the night before you plan on using it. Yes, this method will take longer, but it will keep the sour cream in a safe temperature zone throughout the thawing process. If you thaw your sour cream on the counter, the outer layers could begin to spoil while the center is still solidly frozen.
After your sour cream is fully melted you will want to remix it using a fork or whisk. This will help to get rid of any separation that occurred during the freezing and thawing process.
How Can You Tell If Your Sour Cream Is Bad?
Once you get to the two-week mark, it can be difficult to decide whether or not your sour cream has gone bad. Of course, it could still be good, sour cream can stay fresh for up to a month, or the spoiling process may have already begun.
Fortunately, there are a couple of key signs that you can look for to help you decide whether or not your sour cream has gone bad. The main factors that you should consider are the taste, smell, color, and the presence of mold.
Sour cream is supposed to taste sour, it’s in the name after all, but it should not be extremely sour or bitter. If it does taste like this or the flavor has significantly changed since the last time you ate it, your sour cream has probably started to go bad.
If you have any doubts about whether or not your sour cream has gone bad, you should throw it away. Spoiled dairy products can cause food poisoning and make you very sick if you consume too much of them.
This factor is probably the first one that you’ll notice as soon as you open the sour cream container. If a pungent, acrid smell hits you as soon as you open the container, your sour cream has definitely gone bad and should be thrown out.
The smell is one of the easiest, most obvious signs to use to determine if your food has gone bad. Simply take a whiff and if it doesn’t smell right, out it goes.
Sour cream should naturally be a relatively bright white. If your sour cream begins to take on a yellow or even green tint, that is a sign of bacteria growth. This color change will usually be accompanied by a change in the odor. If you notice that your sour cream has begun to change color, it is time to toss it out.
This last sign is pretty obvious. Fresh sour cream should have a smooth texture with no fluffy or grayish patches. Therefore, if you start to notice a fluffy texture or grayish patches, that means that mold has started to grow. Mold can also be black, blue, yellow, or green in color depending on the variety.
Regardless, if you think you see signs of mold, throw your sour cream out right away. Several types of mold are dangerous to humans and could cause serious illness if consumed.
Can You Eat Expired Sour Cream?
It is not a good idea to eat expired sour cream. Sour cream that has passed its expiration date has likely begun to accumulate harmful bacteria.
When consumed, these bacteria can cause food poisoning which can be very dangerous in the young, elderly, or people with compromised immune systems. Even if you aren’t at risk of serious complications from food poisoning, it is very unpleasant and can put you out of work or school for several days.
Is sour cream still good after a week?
As long as it is stored at the correct temperatures, both opened and unopened sour cream should be good after a week. Opened sour cream usually lasts for 10-14 days while unopened sour cream can last for anywhere from 2-4 weeks.
Can you cook with expired sour cream?
You should not cook with expired sour cream. It could have dangerous bacteria that can make you sick even after it has been cooked.
Does sour cream spoil if left out overnight?
Yes, sour cream does spoil and should no longer be consumed if left out overnight. If sour cream is in the danger zone, 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, for more than two hours it should be thrown away.
Sour cream is a popular ingredient in many dishes and can be used as a sauce and dressing to top foods off as well. However, like most dairy products, it has a limited shelf life.
If your sour cream remains in the refrigerator at the appropriate temperature, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it should remain good for at least 10 days. Opened sour cream will remain good for roughly 10-14 days while unopened sour cream stays fresh for 2-4 weeks.
If you are unsure how old your sour cream is, it should be pretty easy to tell if it’s still fresh by the smell and appearance. As long as the sour cream still has a fresh scent and no discoloration, it is probably fresh and safe to consume.