Do you have sour cream in your fridge that you are wondering if it’s safe to consume? Here’s how to tell if sour cream is bad.
Sour cream is a dairy product made by fermenting the standard cream with a healthy bacterial culture to thicken and make it sour. The healthy bacteria in sour cream make it a ‘live’ product that, if not stored properly, may go bad quickly.
Not all sour cream is created equal. Some of it is made from ultra-pasteurized dairy that has been injected with a bacterial culture that makes it last longer and prevents it from spoiling.
Unfortunately, this process also prevents the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria like lactobacillus, which are responsible for sour cream’s distinct tangy flavor. If you are a sour cream connoisseur who loves the traditional tangy flavor, but you’re also worried about food safety, you can test your sour cream to see if it contains healthy probiotic cultures and determine if it’s still good to eat.
In order to tell if sour cream is bad, you should check the expiration date on the package. If the sour cream is past the expiration date, chances are that the sour cream might have gone bad.
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Signs of bad or spoiled sour cream
• Mold on the surface- Spoiled sour cream will have extra growth of black mold on the surface. If you observe this, you should discard the entire package as the container’s content may all be contaminated. Bacterial streaks on the surface are also a sign that it is going bad.
• Off smells- If the cream does not have the usual sour smell but a stinky, moldy smell, it has extra growth that qualifies it to be bad and unsafe to consume.
• Discolorations- Sour cream is usually white and any off colors such as yellow show that the cream is invaded by unsafe fungi/bacteria and unsafe to consume.
• Watery liquid- When sour cream is beginning to go bad, it separates and the water portion pools on top of the creamy layer. It is not recommended to use sour cream if it has a lot of watery liquid.
If your sour cream has none of the above signs and the use by date is yet, then you should give it a taste to determine if it’s suitable for consumption or not. Still, don’t use it if it has a sharp, bitter flavor.
How to store your sour cream
• On getting home from shopping, immediately store your sour cream in a fridge below 40 ◦F. This should be replicated immediately after using the cream.
• Keep the sour cream in its original containers or air-tight container if you need to transfer the product. Please make sure that the containers are moisture-free and non-contaminated.
• When serving sour cream, use clean utensils to avoid contamination during the process.
• Separate your sour cream from raw foods such as onions, garlic and citrus fruits to ensure that it does not absorb the pungent smell these foods produce.
Why is freezing sour cream not recommended?
Sour cream will lose its flavor and get a lumpy texture when stored in the freezer. For this reason, you should always stick to fridge storage to keep your sour cream in the required quality and taste.
Even if your sour cream hasn’t yet clocked the sell-by or use-by date, you should only eat it after you confirm that it’s safe. At least you now know what the signs of spoiled cream are, so don’t assume them. Maintaining proper hygiene when handling and storing sour cream reduces contamination and the risks of it going bad. Consume only what is healthy and clean, and you will lead a happy life that is foodborne-diseases-free.