September 12

Can You Freeze Sour Cream? Yes, Here’s How

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A necessity in Mexican dishes, sour cream is also the hidden gem behind velvety cakes and casseroles. The versatility of sour cream makes it a popular commodity to hold onto for as long as possible.

In the fridge, sour cream lasts approximately three weeks. Keep it in the freezer, and it could last up to 6 months. Below we've outlined a comprehensive guide to storing, freezing and thawing sour cream for ultimate flavor and texture preservation.

Enjoy!


Should You Freeze Sour Cream?


Is it Worth it?

We think so. Sour cream adds a certain pizzazz to everything it pairs with. Frozen sour cream is easy to store, and restore, for recipes that involve baking or cooking. Although the texture irreversibly changes with freezing, the lactic, buttermilk taste of sour cream will remain.  

We don't recommend freezing sour cream for purposed of dip or sauce making. The reason why is detailed below. 

Flavor and Textural Changes

When ice crystals form in sour cream, they expand, fracturing the delicate protein gel that gives sour cream its luscious texture. Upon thawing, the sour cream will appear runny and curdled as moisture seeps out of the crippled protein gel. 

Because its taste has not changed, it is still perfect for baked or cooked recipes, such as cakes or casseroles.  However, don’t use thawed sour cream as a sauce or a dip, because it will have a noticeably curdled consistency.

If You Have to Use Cold

If you must use thawed sour cream in a cold application, there is a short-term fix for the texture; with a whisk, whip in a small amount of cornstarch.  The cornstarch will create a starch gel, acting as a substitute for the protein gel that was destroyed by freezing.  It will replicate the original texture of the sour cream.

How to Freeze Sour Cream


Freeze sour cream in an airtight container or bag. Ideally, aim to freeze it in quantities that you will use for a recipe because it should not be refrozen once thawed. 

One method that works well is to freeze the sour cream in an ice cube tray, then transfer the frozen cubes to an airtight bag once they have hardened. That way, you can remove from the freezer only the amount you plan to use.  

If you freeze the sour cream in the original container, make sure it is unopened and still airtight. Otherwise, transfer it to a well-sealed Tupperware or bag.

How to Thaw Sour Cream


Always defrost sour cream in the refrigerator.  It contains acid-producing lactic acid bacteria as well as native spoilage organisms.  Cold temperatures keep these organisms at bay, but if exposed to room temperatures, they will quickly cause the sour cream to deteriorate.

This happens especially after the freezing process has ruptured its cell structures and made more nutrients available to the microorganisms.  Once thawed, sour cream has a shelf life of only 2-3 days (compared to 3 weeks when it is fresh). 

Uses For Frozen Sour Cream


Use thawed sour cream to add interest, moisture, and luxurious texture to sauces, stews, bread, pancakes, pies, muffins, casseroles, and soups. Remove from the freezer only the amount you want to cook with because sour cream should never be refrozen once thawed. 

If you are making a stew or a sauce, you can add frozen cubes of sour cream directly to the pot without thawing them first. Avoid using defrosted sour cream for dips and garnishes, because the texture change will be noticeable. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Can You Freeze Sour Cream Dip?

While it is safe to freeze sour cream dip, the texture will separate and become grainy.  The dip’s additional ingredients will provide some protection, but the texture will never be as creamy and fluffy as when you first made it. 

Before serving a thawed dip, whip it vigorously and, if necessary, add a sprinkle of cornstarch to assist the texture.

Can You Freeze Beef Stroganoff with Sour Cream?

Some people claim to have a Stroganoff recipe that can be successfully frozen and thawed. However, as a rule, sauces containing sour cream do not freeze well because sour cream tends to separate and become grainy.  The success of this is very dependent on the other ingredients in the recipe.

Stroganoffs made with canned soup, for example (which includes emulsifiers) may freeze better than “traditional” Stroganoff recipes. One way out of this dilemma is to make the Stroganoff with all ingredients except the sour cream, then freeze it; upon reheating the Stroganoff, add fresh sour cream just before serving.  

Can You Use Sour Cream After it’s Been Frozen?

Yes. Use frozen sour cream for baking and cooking applications, in which the texture differences will not be noticeable. For garnishes and dips, use only fresh sour cream.

Concluding


If you use it properly, frozen sour cream can be a handy addition to cooking and baking recipes. Make it your secret weapon in desserts and creamy soups by keeping a little extra on hand!

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave a note below.

Cheers!

Caitlin


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About the author

Caitlin is a Ph.D student and chocolate researcher at Colorado State University. Her research in the Food Science program focuses on chocolate fermentation (that’s right, it’s a fermented food!) and small-batch post-harvest processing techniques. When she is not acting in her capacity as resident chocolate guru, she researches other fermented foods and beverages like beer, sausage, and natto. Caitlin was drawn to fermented foods while living in rural Spain for six years, where she was exposed to traditional, time-honored practices of food preservation. At home, she practices Bollywood dance for fun and is followed everywhere by two small pet rabbits.

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