Creamy and tangy, sour cream is underestimated in its versatility. Most people know this creamy dairy product as a dip, savory topping to a baked potato or Mexican dishes. Sour cream, however, can be used in sweet dishes, for baking, stews, and soups.
Although dairy products don’t usually have a good reputation when it comes to freezing, it is possible to freeze sour cream to prevent it from going bad as long as you use it for cooking or baking once thawed.
Below you will find out all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to freezing sour cream and turning it into a delectable meal once thawed.
Types of Sour Cream
Sour cream is produced by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid culture in a process called ‘souring’. This fermentation process is what gives it a slightly tart flavor and a thicker consistency.
Yogurt, cream cheese, and crème fraiche are made in a similar fashion. Different types of lactic acid bacteria, varying fermentation times, and different fat quantities ultimately result in a variety of fermented dairy products. Crème fraiche has a higher fat content than that of sour cream, with a less sour flavor.
Can Sour Cream Be Frozen?
Fresh sour cream is suitable for freezing only if you are planning to use it for baking or adding to a cooked dish after freezing.
The texture of sour cream changes during the freezing process. This will make it unsuitable to use if a recipe calls for sour cream as toppings, dips and sauces. The flavor, however, does not change, which means that adding it to a soup, casserole or batter will still yield a creamy flavorful outcome.
Sour cream needs to be frozen while it is still fresh. Placing it in the freezer will not renew old sour cream, so keep in mind that if it is already off, it is best to throw it away. It is not a good idea to freeze sour cream that has already been sitting in the refrigerator for more than two weeks.
Although placing it in the freezer will prolong the shelf life of the sour cream up to 6 months, it is still best to use it as soon as possible. The product will continue to deteriorate over time, the longer it stays frozen.
How To Freeze Sour Cream
You can freeze sour cream in its original container, unopened with the seal still intact by placing it directly in the freezer.
Tip: Place the whole container in a zip lock bag to ensure it does not get pierced accidentally and spill over other products before it is fully frozen.
For best preservation and future use, here is how to freeze excess sour cream that has already been opened.
Step 1: Whisk
Sour cream will separate on thawing. Use a whisk to whip the sour cream before freezing to distribute the moisture evenly throughout.
Step 2: Portion and Pack
To avoid having to defrost the entire batch of frozen sour cream for use in one dish, divide it into smaller portions. This allows you to take out just enough for a specific recipe. You can do this by pouring the sour cream into ice cube molds, muffin tins, or pouring it straight into airtight containers or sealable freezer bags.
If using an ice cube tray or muffin tin, pour the sour cream into each compartment and place it directly in the freezer until fully frozen. Once frozen, pop out the frozen cubes and place them into a resealable freezer bag.
Step 3: Remove Air
Before sealing the freezer bags, press out all the excess air to avoid freezer burn and the formation of ice crystals.
Step 4: Label
Label the packet or container with the contents and date to keep track of how long it has been frozen.
How To Thaw Frozen Sour Cream
Method 1: Refrigerator
Remove the portion of frozen sour cream you would like to defrost from the freezer and place it directly into the fridge to thaw overnight (large containers) or for several hours (smaller amounts).
During the thawing process, the sour cream would have split and become watery. Mix it well with a whisk to reconstitute a smooth texture. You can also add a small amount of corn starch (made into a paste) and whisk it well before adding to your cooking.
Method 2: Water Bath
If you do not have enough prep time to wait a few hours for the sour cream to defrost in the refrigerator (which is the recommended method), you can also place the sealed zip lock bag in a bowl of warm (not piping hot) water for 20 to 30 minutes to defrost.
Method 3: Stovetop
Place the frozen sour cream in a saucepan or small pot over moderate heat on the stovetop and let it thaw slowly. Stir well. This is ideal if you are adding it to soups or stews straight away.
Since freezing sour cream does not affect its taste, it is the perfect way to preserve this creamy dairy ingredient to save money and prevent food waste. There are various ways to revive its texture and to use frozen sour cream, so do not hesitate to pop it into the freezer for future use.
Just remember, if you want the best out of your frozen goods long-term, it needs to be prepared properly for freezing. There are loads of sour cream recipes that incorporate the creamy ingredient in cooked dishes, baked goods, and even desserts.
You might even find a new favorite by trying something creative, now that you know you do not have to toss the remaining half of your refrigerated sour cream carton. Happy cooking.
Image by depositphotos/magone