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More on the Shelf-Life and Storage of Sour Cream

I have a load of sour cream left over that was never used at Thanksgiving. I want to make it last for the Christmas holidays. Do you know how I could do this?

A load? You have a load of sour cream? How much are we talking here? Given the general national terror over any food with the word "cream" in its title, we assume you mean a half cup or so. But, of course, the quantity doesn't really matter. A better question is, did you open all the containers of sour cream in your load? Unopened, commercially produced sour cream has a shelf-life of 45 to 60 days (Land O'Lakes-brand sour cream has a shelf life of 120 days), and certainly two or three weeks beyond the sell-by date.

Once opened, the shelf life of sour cream officially varies between one and two weeks — not really enough for your inter-holiday period. We have routinely kept opened sour cream for at least four weeks before, though, and found it fresh, tasty, and mold-free when we discovered it in the depths of the refrigerator. We would suggest mixing the sour cream thoroughly and putting it in a clean plastic container with a sealable lid that is only large enough to hold the sour cream. Squeeze out as much air as possible and store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator (probably at the bottom).

When you're ready to use the sour cream, if it has any mold or a pinkish tint, toss it out and buy another — more appropriate — load.

You can freeze the sour cream (and we get about a dozen questions each day asking about that), but it will separate and not be the same when it thaws. If you're just going to stir it into a soup or cook with it, that should be fine. If you intend to serve it as recognizable sour cream — say, on a baked potato — it will be disappointing.

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