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How to tell if Sour Cream is bad?

Most of the time when I think of sour cream I immediately think of anything Mexican. Tacos, nachos, enchiladas, or whatever your favorites might be. I can’t have Mexican without sour cream.

Sour cream is actually a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in baking to make things moister, or in salad dressings, or sauces to make them creamier, just to name a few.

But the question is, how long does it last? Or, how can you tell when or if it’s gone bad? I’m going to dive into all of that.

sour cream in a bowl

Signs of spoilage

1. Past the Use by date

Look at the date on the side of your container. It will have a use by, sell by and/or best by date on it.

  • Sell-by dates are so the store knows when it should be sold by in order for the consumer to have time to use it before it spoils.
  • Use By dates tells the consumer the lastest date that you should use the sour cream.
  • Best if used by means that you are going to get the best taste, flavors, and quality out of it if you use it before this date.

2. Unpleasant smell

Sour cream that has gone bad is going to have an unpleasant smell to it. Obviously, “sour” cream will have a little tangy smell to it already, but you will notice a sour smell when you open the container that is more of a rancid smell.

Smell in combination to any of these other factors below will tell you for sure if its safe to eat or not.

3. Watery texture

You will notice when you open your sour cream that there is some separation between the cream and the liquid. This is normal and can be drained or mixed back together before you use it.

You want to make sure that it isn’t overly watery or clumpy at all. Sour cream should be a smooth creamy texture when it is good.

4. Moldy or discoloration

Again, you want a nice smooth creaminess to your sour cream. If you notice any mold on the top of it then discard it. Usually, you will see a green or white fuzzy mold on the top of the cream right when you open it.

Bacteria growth will show itself by color. If you see yellowing, that is also an indicator that your sour cream has spoiled and you should throw it away.

I always go by the “When in doubt, throw it out” method.

Eating sour cream that is spoiled puts you at risk for food poisoning. You will most likely experience some sort of stomach pains, nausea, diarrhea, or sometimes a fever.

Everyone’s body reacts differently and it also depends on the severity of the spoilage in your sour cream. If you notice anything off then I would not eat it.

Sour cream is a perfect environment for growing bacteria. You should always store your sour cream in the fridge that is at least 40 degrees.

Leaving it on the counter increases the temperature of the sour cream and bacteria will start to grow. The longer it’s left out the faster it will start to spoil.

Like I said before sour cream should be kept at 40 degrees or below for the longest life. Leaving it on the counter for any length of time increases the risk for bacteria growth.

The maximum you could get away with leaving it out on the counter would be about 2 hours. At that point, I would throw it away.

But, again this all depends on if sitting out at 65 degrees or 80 degrees.

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