How to Tell If Sour Cream Has Gone Bad

Sour cream is a highly perishable food that, similar to other dairy products, can quickly spoil when exposed to bacteria and fungi that grow on it.

Sour cream may not exhibit obvious signs of spoiling when fresh, but can still become inedible with improper storage or conditions.


Sour cream may have a longer shelf life than butter or other dairy products, but it still spoils. Lactic acid bacteria and other microorganisms found in sour cream may become overgrown if left at room temperature or a dirty spoon enters its container, and the results can include mold growth, off-color hues, or unpleasant tastes indicating it has gone bad.

Signs that sour cream has gone bad include an unpleasant, off-color, rancid, or stinky aroma; this indicates it has become infected with harmful bacteria, fungus, or yeast.

Fresh sour cream should have a unique and pleasing milk-like scent, while any change indicates there may be something amiss with it and should not be eaten.

Discoloration is another telltale sign of spoilt sour cream; when it takes on yellow hues instead of its original whiteness, that signals contamination with harmful bacteria and fungi that cannot be consumed safely anymore.

If there is mold growth on the surface of a tub of sour cream, it should be discarded immediately. Even if only fuzzy mold growth exists; toss it anyway to ensure a safe environment for future purchases. Poor storage could have compromised it and caused its contamination to spread to all corners of its storage container.

To keep sour cream at its peak quality, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Pushing it back ensures it doesn’t get exposed to room temperature or other food substances; use clean utensils when serving to avoid cross-contamination; check expiration dates to buy within its shelf life (though some argue otherwise), since expired sour cream could lead to stomachaches and nausea – though technically safe, its bacterial and yeast growth could make you ill!


Sour cream generally has a long shelf life, but eventually it may spoil. Refrigerator storage environments are especially conducive for bacteria and mold growth. If any signs of spoilage such as vibrant bacterial growth or pungent odors appear, discard your container immediately.

Bad sour cream can also be identified by its color; typically it should have a creamy white hue; however, once it begins to go bad it will turn yellow or grey and should be discarded as it may contain harmful bacteria that are unsafe to consume.

Taste is another effective way of telling whether sour cream has gone bad. Fresh sour cream should have a mildly tart flavor; once spoilt it can develop an acidic aftertaste. If a spoonful of the sour cream exhibits unpleasant or rancid aromas then discard immediately.

Before purchasing and consuming sour cream, always check its expiration date. Most containers feature either a sell-by or use-by date to help determine whether it remains safe to consume. Though you can consume it after this date, consuming it within one or two weeks from opening is ideal.

As your sour cream ages, its texture should also become important. Once it goes bad, sour cream tends to turn lumpy or watery before becoming curdled and curdle-prone. While whey may form on top of some liquid or gel dairy products normally; when present it could be a telltale sign that your sour cream has gone rotten; any attempt at saving it by straining out will only further compromise it and further add to its spoilage.


If your sour cream has changed to become lumpy or has an odd texture, it is definitely time to throw it out. Sour cream should always have a creamy consistency, so any lumps or curdles indicate it has become unsafe to consume. Also if it seems denser or contains extra liquid it could indicate its inedibility for consumption.

Simply taste some sour cream to check its texture, if it has an unusual texture or flavor that indicates it has gone bad and should be thrown away immediately. Fresh sour cream should have a mild tangy acidic flavor; strong rancid or vinegary notes indicate it has gone stale and should be discarded immediately.

Refrigerating sour cream at all times will extend its shelf life and help avoid spoilage or mold growth, while making sure it’s in an airtight container for maximum preservation – if necessary wrap aluminum foil tightly around your tub and tie with rubber bands for even better results!

Sour cream’s shelf life depends on its temperature of storage and how exposed to heat or light it has been. Usually it should last two weeks after opening before it needs to be eaten by its expiration date; however if exposed to extreme temperatures or light sources it could go bad sooner.

Though sour cream doesn’t last as long as milk or yogurt, if left in the refrigerator too long it can quickly spoil. Checking its expiration date may give an indicator, but there are other indicators of spoilage you should look out for as well – these tips will help you recognize when to dispose of expired sour cream as soon as it spoils in future batches.

Water Separation

If a container of sour cream that has gone past its sell-by or use-by date hasn’t been opened yet, it could still be okay; however, it is best to be on the safe side by checking for signs that it has gone bad; lumpy or watery texture are sure indicators that it has gone off; also pay attention if its flavor resembles buttermilk or vinegar which would indicate spoilage and should be thrown away as soon as possible.

As another way to tell whether sour cream has gone bad, look for a layer of whey on top. Although this is harmless and should go away eventually with refrigeration temperatures, it could indicate fermentation has occurred and be harmful.

Be wary of any mold forming on the sour cream. While some small amounts of mold growth is expected over time, significant amounts could signal that it has begun spoiling.

To determine whether sour cream has gone off, the easiest way is to simply taste it. If it smells or tastes off or has developed mold growth, discard immediately; however if it still appears smooth and creamy but has an off flavor you might be able to save some by incorporating into soups or other recipes.

To keep your sour cream as fresh as possible, it is essential that it is stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated at all times. This will slow the fermentation process and prevent any unwanted bacteria or fungi from growing in it. Furthermore, always use clean scooping utensils when scooping from containers, in order to avoid cross-contamination from dirt, food particles, or bacteria entering new batches of sour cream.

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