How to Tell If Sour Cream Has Gone Bad

Left sitting out on a counter can allow harmful microorganisms to grow and potentially spoil it, potentially leading to various illnesses in people.

Refrigerating sour cream can extend its shelf life, but it’s important to know when to throw it out. A few signs that indicate its spoilage include an unpleasant odor, fuzzy texture or changes in color.


No matter if it has just been opened or has been in your fridge for some time, one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if sour cream has gone bad is its smell. If it smells rancid or unpleasant, chances are it has gone off and is no longer safe to consume.

One sure way of telling whether or not sour cream has gone bad is by tasting it. Stale or rancid sour cream often has an odd, bitter taste that makes eating it extremely unpleasant; additionally, its smell may also become overpoweringly foul and unappetising.

Checking the texture of your sour cream to determine whether or not it has gone stale is also wise, as gelled dairy products like sour cream and yogurt often become lumpy or runny as they spoil. If yours has become lumpy or runny, discard immediately!

Refrigerating sour cream should keep it fresh for two weeks after opening; however, without proper storage practices it could spoil much sooner. Pay attention to the expiration date on your package and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator for optimal results.

If your container of sour cream has gone past its expiration date, it is wise to dispose of it immediately to prevent food poisoning caused by eating spoiled dairy products.

If you aren’t sure of how best to store your sour cream, it’s advisable to put it in an airtight container and refrigerate as soon as possible to prevent bacteria or microorganisms from spoiling it.


Sour cream, like other dairy products, has the ability to quickly spoil when stored improperly. But unlike its non-fermented cousin heavy cream, sour cream has an extended shelf life if stored correctly; two weeks can pass between its expiration date and being placed back into storage if stored correctly. You can tell if the sour cream has gone bad by its smell, color and texture – make sure it smells pleasant before reaching this stage!

Sour cream that has an unusual or unpleasant odor should always be discarded; any time yours carries musty or rancid aromas it should also be considered spoilt and should be thrown out immediately. Any sample with strange flavors that displeases should also not be consumed.

Change in color is another telltale sign of bad sour cream. Most often it will remain white in hue; if it turns yellow or even green in appearance it has likely gone bad and should no longer be consumed. If this occurs due to heat damage or other contamination in your refrigerator it should also be considered discolored and should not be consumed.

Sour cream typically has a thick consistency; however, if yours has become watery or has developed a fluffy or grayish texture it is probably time for disposal.

As with any dairy product, sour cream can quickly go bad when exposed to air. Even with its long shelf life and proper storage conditions, however, spoilage may occur within several days after opening the container. According to Weill Cornell Medical College there is no guarantee that sour cream will still be safe after its “sell-by” or “best-if-used-by” date; however proper storage methods can extend its shelf life and protect you from food-borne illness.


Sour cream can quickly go bad when not stored correctly. For best results, store it in an airtight container in the fridge; eating within one week of opening is advised as too long can lead to bacteria growing that could make you sick. When spoiled sour cream has gone off its best to stay edible; eating it could result in food poisoning which could prove especially hazardous to pregnant women and young children.

How can you tell when sour cream has gone bad? By its smell and texture. If the sour cream smells rancid or has an overwhelming sour aroma, it may no longer be safe to consume. Also if it has become watery or has formed an opaque separation layer on top, this indicates it should no longer be consumed.

Before purchasing sour cream, it is crucial to carefully inspect its date of manufacture. Packaging usually displays three dates: sell-by, best if used-by and use-by. These indicate when it should be sold for maximum profit or when it tastes best when consumed soon after it was manufactured.

If sour cream exhibits an unpleasant odor or bright bacterial marks on its surface, this should be treated as a warning that it has become contaminated by bacteria and mold growth.

Once sour cream goes bad, it becomes lumpy and loses its creamy texture; in some cases it may even turn yellow. If this occurs, it should be discarded immediately.

If you’re uncertain if your sour cream has gone bad, take a small taste test. If it seems mushy or tastes off, discard it immediately – using old sour cream can lead to health issues like nausea and vomiting as well as stomach cramps and diarrhea – follow these guidelines for storing and telling when sour cream has become spoilt to stay safe!

Expiration date

Sour cream is an integral component of many dishes, and should never go to waste. It’s relatively straightforward to detect when it has gone bad: its smell might change or curdle as the days progress; alternatively, taste it to see if there is an unpleasant aroma or texture indicating spoilage.

Checking the expiration dates on sour cream products before consuming is also important, and most containers have an “use by,” “sell-by,” or “best if used by” date on them that informs when it should be eaten. In general, two weeks post-expiry is safe to consume but always double check your foods for possible expiration dates before consuming them.

Expired sour cream can contain harmful bacteria that could make you sick, so it’s wise to monitor the shelf-life of all dairy products and discard any that have turned spoiled as soon as they appear on your countertop. According to Weill Cornell Medical College, there is no absolute expiration date for sour cream that guarantees it remains edible after that period; the sooner it’s discovered as having become inedible the better the odds are for its safety.

Substandard sour cream should be tossed when it begins to grow mold or turn yellow in color, or when dark specs or discolorations appears on its surface.

If you have extra sour cream that hasn’t gone bad yet, freezing it may be the answer to saving it from going off before its prime. Be sure to store it in an appropriate freezer-safe container that allows an inch or two at the top so it can expand when freezing – this way there won’t be an overwhelming amount when removed from the freezer for use! And when freezing lids make sure that extra pressure doesn’t build up; add holes to release any pressure that builds up before putting your container back into your freezer to reduce pressure build-up before placing.

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