Can Sour Cream Go Bad?

Can sour cream go bad? If you have several tubs of sour cream in storage, how do you know if they are still safe to use? As with most types of dairy products, sour cream has a limited storage life. Sour cream, in particular, has a short shelf life. Since the product has high water content, there is a good chance that it will turn rancid within a couple of weeks! This is the reason why proper storage is a must for dairy products, especially sour cream.

Can Sour Cream Go Bad?

Sour cream is made from pasteurized milk. The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria that could cause sickness or shorten the storage life of the product. However, the process won’t eradicate all the bacteria so there is an increased risk of the product going bad.

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Worse, leftover bacteria love milk proteins and sugars so they’ll continue to thrive beyond the canning process. This means the product could go bad at some point. And rancid sour cream is quite dangerous to the health. It can cause food poisoning and diarrhea. Apart from religiously checking your stash for spoilage and storing the products properly, keep the product sealed after every use to extend its shelf life.

Signs that Sour Cream Has Gone Bad

It’s hard to tell if sour cream has gone bad because the product has a naturally sour flavor and smell. However, slight or significant color and texture changes are signs that the product is no longer safe to consume. If the sour cream took on a weird yellow color, the product has gone bad. If you’re seeing the presence of mold, discard the product. If the sour cream developed and emits an off-smell, toss the product in the trash.

If the smooth consistency of the sour cream turned lumpy and watery, the product has gone bad. On the other hand, if there is a sign of separation between the milk solids and the liquids, the product could be usable still. As long as the product didn’t develop an off-color or smell, the sour cream is still safe to eat. Just give the sour cream a good mix to re-incorporate the ingredients.

How to Store Sour Cream?

The best way to store sour cream is to keep in the refrigerator. The chilly temperature will slow down the degradation of the ingredients. Keeping the product in the fridge protect the sour cream from humidity and sources of heat.

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Dairy products are quite sensitive to temperature changes so store the sour cream in a spot with a stable temperature. Do not store the sour cream near the fridge door as this spot is always exposed to changing temps. When kept in the fridge, an unopened tub of sour cream will keep for two weeks. Opened tubs of sour cream will only keep for a week or so in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Sour Cream?

Sour cream doesn’t require freezing. The extreme temperature could alter the consistency and flavor of the product permanently. But if you must, you can freeze the sour cream. We recommend dividing a tub of sour cream into manageable portions for best results. If the separation between ingredients occurs, just give the sour cream a good stir.


Having sour cream on hand is a great way to whip up quick snacks when there’s company. Can sour cream go bad? Yes, sour cream has a limited shelf life but as long as you store the product properly, there is no need to worry about spoilage at all. We do, however, recommend using up your supply of sour cream as soon as you can for optimal flavor and quality.

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