Can You Freeze Sour Cream?

If you have too much sour cream or just want to extend its shelf life, here's what you need to know about freezing this dairy favorite.

sour cream in bowl overhead

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Sour cream is often a favorite topper for chili, soups, or burritos. It makes casseroles creamy and rich. It adds tang to mashed potatoes. But sometimes you discover you have a whole container and it's going to reach its expiration date before you can use it up. You may be tempted to freeze it so that it doesn’t go to waste, but is freezing sour cream a good idea? We have the answers.

Is Sour Cream Safe to Freeze?

Sour cream is perfectly safe to freeze, but it won’t taste or feel quite the same once it's defrosted.

Freezing changes sour cream's texture

“Sour cream has a relatively high amount of moisture, and this results in the formation of ice crystals when frozen,” said Chad Galer, vice president of product research and food safety at Dairy Management, Inc.

Yes, you can try to wrap and package it very carefully, but  the freezing process may still lead to some big changes in the texture and consistency due to those ice crystals. It won’t be as easy to spread and will not have that glorious creamy texture we crave.

“The creamy texture of sour cream is a loose matrix of milk proteins and fat that hold the water in this matrix.  The ice crystals that form disrupt this matrix and result in a very grainy and sometimes runny texture, often with free moisture or water resulting,” said Galer.

Freezing changes sour cream's flavor, too

You may have to adjust how you use sour cream after defrosting because the freezer stay impacts the food's flavor. You may not want to use it anywhere that calls for a dollop of fresh sour cream on top—say that chili or to garnish a baked potato. But it could still be used as an ingredient in cooking or baking. Add it to that dip or cake recipe, and it’ll still do a great job. Plus, thawed sour cream, even with an altered texture, would still be great in soups and stews for added a creamy flavor.

How Long Does Thawed Sour Cream Last

Sour cream has a pretty long shelf life in the fridge, so one way to avoid the choice of freezing it or not is to just use it up before you need to freeze or toss it.

“Sour cream stores well in the refrigerator for one to three weeks.  If sour cream is frozen for some reason, it is best to use it within 24 hours of thawing,” said Galer.

How To Freeze Sour Cream

To freeze sour cream, place it in an airtight container, and put it in the freezer. “It should last up to six months. You can also divide it into smaller portions using silicone molds to make it easier to portion from frozen,” said Ingrid Chen McCarthy, food developer at The Fresh Market.

How To Tell if Thawed Sour Cream Is Still Safe to Eat

After defrosting the sour cream, don’t refreeze it. Thawing and refreezing is considered a food safety risk, because of the possibility of bacteria contamination.

The bottom line is that if you have extra sour cream and you are worried it may go to waste, it’s safe to freeze it. But be prepared that the taste and texture will change, so you’ll have to adjust the sort of recipes you may use that frozen sour cream in.

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