Sour Cream Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

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So you got a sudden urge for baked potatoes. Sour cream should obviously be put on top of roasted potatoes. You only used a little bit of cream and are unsure what to do with the remainder. You’re wondering how long sour cream can be stored in the refrigerator.

Maybe you made a mistake on your shopping list. Sour cream was included on the list, but you still have some in the fridge.

It occurs to everyone. Whether we purchase too much or have half-full containers of leftovers, these scenarios raise the fundamental question: can sour cream go bad?

Not to worry! You’re going to learn essential information regarding sour cream’s shelf life, proper storage, and how to tell whether sour cream is rotten. Sounds intriguing? Continue reading!

How To Store Sour Cream

In general, there is one basic rule to remember while keeping most dairy products. Other dairy products, including sour cream, must be refrigerated at all times, with the exception of butter and hard cheese (such as Parmesan), which may be kept at room temperature. Sour cream, whether store-bought or homemade, belongs in the refrigerator.

Attempt to limit its exposure to room temperature. This includes going food shopping. Before you go to the checkout, choose sour cream.

When you go home, put it in the refrigerator right away. Sour cream requires continual refrigeration at a temperature of at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius).

Refrigerator doors should not be used to store perishable things. Try to select a position on the back of your refrigerator that is protected from unexpected temperature swings.

Another interesting storage fact is to practice proper cleanliness. Always close the lid carefully after opening. If the packaging cannot be resealed, place the leftovers in an airtight container. Return it to the refrigerator as soon as possible.

As with other dishes, always scoop out the cream with a clean spoon or spatula. Doing double duty is never a good idea. Bacteria from your mouth and the surrounding environment may readily enter the container. That suggests spoiling is on the horizon.

How Do You Tell If Sour Cream Has Gone Bad?

You’re undoubtedly aware that all dairy products go bad at some time. Temperature abuse is most usually the issue; for example, supposing you neglect to return your sour cream to the refrigerator.

Fortunately, recognizing whether sour cream has gone bad is not a difficult undertaking. You can mostly depend on your nose and sight. If something doesn’t look or smell right, it’s time to get rid of it.

Sour cream is naturally acidic, but if it smells sour, rancid, or strange in any way, it’s spoilt cream. You’ll most likely notice this change as soon as you open the container.

Following that, visual cues are difficult to overlook. Other symptoms include discoloration and molds on the surface, which are often green, blue, or pinkish patches.

Aside from those indicators, don’t be alarmed if you see liquid on the surface. This is whey, which is technically a byproduct of milk fermentation and is deemed normal. Give it a thorough stir to restore the proper consistency, or scoop it out if you don’t want it.

If you have stored sour cream for an extended period of time, whether opened or unopened, it is best to dump it. We never know, even if everything seems to be OK. Some foodborne bacteria may live and flourish in the refrigerator. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

On the label of store-bought sour cream is a use-by or best by date. That is, as long as sour cream is handled and kept properly, it should be good until this date, if not a little longer.

You may anticipate it to be edible for another week or two if it remains unopened. Again, this estimate is only valid when perfect storage conditions are met. As a result, it is usually preferable to thoroughly inspect it before usage.

If the sour cream is mismanaged along the route, such as during transit or in the store, disregard this date. It may spoil even before the indicated expiration date. Likewise, if you neglect to leave it out overnight.

Sour cream may be refrigerated continuously for one to two weeks after opening. You may rely on your instincts to determine if it is still fresh.

Sour cream produced from scratch has a short shelf life. Sour cream produced from pasteurized milk will stay in the fridge for one to two weeks.

How long is sour cream good for?

Sour cream Refrigerator
Sour cream (unopened) Best-by or use-by date + 1 to 2 weeks
Sour cream (opened) 1 to 2 weeks
Homemade sour cream 1 to 2 weeks

This table is an approximate estimate based on optimal storage conditions for sour cream. The real shelf life of sour cream might vary depending on how properly it is stored.


Can you freeze sour cream?

Sour cream freezing has advantages and disadvantages. Sour cream, like coconut cream and other dairy products, separates irreversibly when frozen. As a result, companies such as Kraft and Daisy Foods are constantly opposed to this proposal. However, if you want to use it in a cooked recipe, the texture difference should not be too noticeable. Make careful to freeze it while it’s still fresh to check whether you like the finished outcome.

Does sour cream go bad if left out?

Dairy products, including sour cream, are perishable foods that deteriorate and become unhealthy to ingest if not kept refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) or frozen. Both spoilage and food-pathogenic bacteria proliferate rapidly at room temperature. The USDA advises avoiding leaving perishable goods out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.

What are the symptoms of eating spoiled sour cream?

Spoiled sour cream is unpleasant to consume. However, you are unlikely to get ill if you consume it. However, if the sour cream is infected with harmful microorganisms, you might suffer food poisoning. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and other symptoms differ depending on the source of exposure. If you have severe symptoms of food poisoning, you should consult a doctor right once. (*)

Final Thoughts

Sour cream is a perishable item that must be kept refrigerated at all times. Otherwise, it spoils quickly if kept out at room temperature.

The use by or best by date on the packaging should be followed. If you have unopened tubs of sour cream, utilize it within one or two weeks. Of course, this is only valid when storage requirements are followed and no signs of deterioration are visible.

Otherwise, if not properly stored, sour cream might go bad even before its expiration date. If you discover any symptoms of deterioration, such as an off-odor, an unpleasant taste, discolorations, or mould, throw it away. Last but not least, do not drink sour cream that has been stored in the refrigerator for an extended period of time.

Up Next: The Best Substitutes for Sour Cream

*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos


How can you tell if sour cream has gone bad?

Examine for discoloration or mold.

According to Eat By Date, as the water separates and a pool begins to develop on the surface, your sour cream has just a few good days remaining. Mold will soon develop in black areas, indicating that it has gone bad and should be discarded.

How long will sour cream last in the refrigerator?

As a general rule, the product will remain fresh for about two weeks after opening the container. You may use your best judgment to confirm the product’s freshness by smelling, tasting, and inspecting it.

Does sour cream taste bad when it goes bad?

Sharp or bitter flavor. The taste of fresh sour cream is gently tart and creamy. If your sour cream has a harsh, bitter, rancid, or yeasty flavor, it’s time to toss it out.

How long is sour cream safe to eat?

Once a container of fresh sour cream has been opened and the top seal has been broken, it will keep for about two weeks. Use the expiry date and packing date indicated on the tub as a reference; if kept correctly, you may be able to extend this date by a couple of days.

Is sour cream still good if it hasn’t been opened?


Sour cream will typically keep for one to two weeks beyond the “sell-by” date on the container, providing it has been constantly chilled; maintain your refrigerator temperature at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

Why does sour cream get watery?

Because sour cream has a high water content, it often separates in the container. Simply keep the Sour Cream carton upside down in the refrigerator to prevent this.

Can you store sour cream long term?

Fresh sour cream may be securely stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks at or below 40°F (4.4°C) (1). Sour cream, like other dairy products, may be frozen. However, freezing sour cream is not usually suggested since it degrades its quality.

How do you make sour cream last longer?

After you’ve opened and used some sour cream, lay a piece of plastic wrap immediately over the surface of the sour cream, pressing it in thoroughly against the different hills and valleys. This is similar to avoiding “skin” on homemade pudding. Replace the cover and store in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze sour cream?

Sour cream may be kept frozen for up to six months. Simply put the quantity of sour cream you need in the fridge and let it to defrost for several hours. The texture will be a little watery and divided. To get a smooth consistency, just beat it with a whisk.

Can I eat month old sour cream?

Life of the Product

Sour cream (opened or unopened) may be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks beyond the sell-by date, according to the USDA.

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