Sour cream is a staple condiment of potato dishes, Mexican food and Tex-Mex cuisine. It also happens to share the usual perishable nature of most dairy products.
This perishable nature means that whenever your sour cream goes bad, you are losing money; it does not matter how much of a discount you may have gotten on your sour cream if it is only going go go bad in a day or two.
This article has been written with the goal of helping you keep your sour cream intact for as long as possible, answering the question of whether or not you can safely freeze a container of sour cream.
Let’s Define Sour Cream
In order to understand how best to preserve sour cream, it is important to remember what this white delicious stuff is.
Put simply, sour cream is a form of a cream that has been exposed to a culture of lactic acid, resulting in the “sour” tartness that gives this substance its signature taste. Anyone familiar with handling creme fresche or yogurt knows how to deal with sour cream.
Is Sour Cream Freezable?
There are two answers to this particular question.
- Yes, you can, but only if you plan on using it in a recipe after thawing it out. It is no longer something you will want to dip your nachos in or put on a baked potato.
In short, you should only freeze your sour cream if you plan on working it into some recipe that requires cooking or baking, never use thawed sour cream as a dip or topping. This is because the freezing process changes the consistency of sour cream.
Thawed out sour cream has a texture that may bring cottage cheese to mind and even stirring it up with a spoon or giving it a session with your blender will not bring it to its former glory before entering the freezer.
Sour cream can keep frozen for no more than six months. Just because you have frozen the cream, that does not mean that it has been completely removed from degradation.
How To Freeze Sour Cream?
The process of freezing this particular food item is simple enough that it should only take a handful of minutes.
- Use a whisk to whip up the sour cream so that it has the same texture throughout its entirety.
- If you do not plan to use all of your remaining sour creams in a single dish, portion it out into several vessels. If you already have a recipe in mind for your thawed sour cream, the portioning should be easy to figure out. However, if you do not have an idea of what you might use this cream on, it is best to portion it out into one container, in a single section of an ice cube tray, or even one well within a muffin tin.
PRO TIP: When it comes to deciding portion sizes, it is better to go smaller. That way, you do not have to chisel away a large chunk in order to get enough for whatever recipe you plan on using it in.
- Transfer the sour cream into the freezer. If you use airtight containers for your sour cream, you are done with this process. If you used exposed vessels like ice trays and muffin tins, keep the cream in the freezer until it gets cold enough to become completely solid. If you chose not to use any containers, move the frozen cubes of sour cream into either a container or even a freezer bag.
- Once your cream has completely frozen, move the pucks into a bag or a container so that you have more room in your freezer.
- Your sour cream should be completely frozen after 8 hours.
Just like any other frozen perishable, it is best to mark the packaging or container with the date you froze it in, and possibly also a “throw out by” date in case you forget the six months you have with it.
How To Defrost Your Frozen Sour Cream
Thawed sour cream works best in recipes because its changed texture blends in with the other ingredients, contributing to something that you can easily call delicious. There are two main approaches when it comes to the task of thawing out sour cream that has been left in the freezer to last longer.
- Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator: This is the safest way to go about thawing your cream and can take anywhere between two and eight hours, depending on the size of the cream chunks you are working with.
- Add to your recipe while it is still in its frozen state: If you are using the sour cream as an ingredient in something like a soup or stew, you can just dump the sour cream in and let the natural heat of the liquid do the thawing for you. This is also a useful trick to remember if you ever forget to defrost something ahead of time.
Applications For Thawed Sour Cream
It does not make much sense to freeze sour cream if you never plan on using it down the line. To this end, here are several suggestions for what to do with the sour cream you are preserving in the freezer. As previously covered, even frozen sour cream has a shelf life so bear this in mind when deciding to cook or bake with it.
While you will be hard-pressed to find recipes that explicitly call for frozen or thawed sour cream, there are plenty of recipes that call for sour cream. Almost all of those recipes will not really be harmed or ruined by using the frozen or thawed stuff so go right ahead. If you need some good starter ideas for recipes, consider the following culinary categories.
- Pancakes. Pancakes are one of the best things you can make with thawed dairy products.
- (Read our article to find out does pancake mix go bad.)
- Pie. Just don’t use the thawed sour cream as a topping.
- Anything involving a slow cooker.
- Mashed potatoes.
Sour cream is a delicious and perishable dairy item that goes well with many foods. Unfortunately, schedules may snarl in such a way that you may never get around to properly using your sour cream.
As long as you are willing to readjust what you might use sour cream for in the kitchen, your freezer can give your sour cream an extension on use.
Just remember that once you get around to thawing the stuff out that you should put it to use immediately. Never refreeze sour cream because you are just begging for bacteria to show up and ruin it.