Sour cream is prevalent in hundreds of dishes nowadays. Whether you are using it as a topping or an ingredient, most households have a tub of sour cream in their refrigerator as a staple in the kitchen.
Since sour cream is a dairy product, you have to be careful how you store and use it. So, can you microwave sour cream? The answer is yes, you can! You just have to use the correct power level on your microwave and cooking time.
Continue reading below to learn more about how to best microwave your sour cream, what makes sour cream spoil, and how to best store and use sour cream.
How to Microwave Sour Cream
When you’re using sour cream as an ingredient for a recipe, you typically need to heat it. Most dipping sauces are made with a good amount of sour cream. If you need to heat your sour cream in the microwave, follow the rules below.
Use a Separate Container
Do not use the container your sour cream comes in to microwave it. When heated in a microwave, the plastic container releases harmful chemicals into your sour cream. Use a microwave-safe dish (a ceramic or glass bowl works perfectly) to heat the sour cream. Put a paper towel or microwave-safe lid over the dish to prevent any splattering that may occur.
Change the Power Level
It is best to use medium-level power to heat dairy products in the microwave, as each product reacts differently to being heated. Using a high power level can lead to unpleasant results, such as curdled or separated sour cream.
Use Small Time Intervals
The most efficient process is to set the time for the microwave at 15 seconds, then stop and stir every five seconds to evenly distribute the heat. If you have a large serving of sour cream, it may take longer than 15 seconds to warm up the whole bowl. You could also heat small portions of a large serving to prevent curdling.
It is important to err on the side of caution, as you do not want to overheat and cause separation in the sour cream. The less time the sour cream spends in the microwave, the better!
Check the Label
Non-fat sour cream will reheat differently than regular sour cream. In fact, non-fat sour cream does not do well under high temperatures and will curdle easiest when reheated. If you heat non or low-fat sour cream, set your microwave’s power to low. It will take longer, but the chances of your sour cream separating are lower.
One and Done
Only heat or reheat your sour cream once. You do not want to reheat a batch of sour cream that has already been heated or reheated. The bacteria that make sour cream taste like sour cream die the first time you heat or reheat it. If you try this method again, your sour cream will not taste right.
Can You Reheat Leftovers with Sour Cream?
Leftover burritos, tacos, or burrito bowls make for a great lunch, and thankfully you can microwave them sour cream and all! Depending on how much sour cream is in the dish, reheating could make it extra soggy. If you have a leftover burrito with sour cream on the side, it is easier to reheat the burrito first. Then, add the sour cream on top once the dish is warm.
If the sour cream is mixed into your dish, you can reheat all of it. Stick with shorter time intervals, and stir together periodically to prevent a soggy lunch.
How Long Does Sour Cream Last?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), sour cream is safe in the refrigerator for between one to three weeks, opened or unopened. Similar to other dairy products, sour cream needs to be stored in cold temperatures to prevent the bacteria from multiplying rapidly, causing the condiment to spoil.
Some common signs of spoilage include mold, yellow or discolored sour cream, and an off smell. If you notice any of these with your sour cream, it’s best to throw it away and get a new one. Eating bad sour cream has some unpleasant after-effects.
Why Does Sour Cream Go Bad?
As mentioned earlier, the most common cause of bad sour cream is lack of refrigeration. However, other factors can have an effect as well. If someone placed a dirty utensil in the container of sour cream, the bacteria could transfer and speed up the spoiling process.
Always make sure you put your sour cream back in the refrigerator when you are not using it. Once the sour cream has warmed to room temperature, the bacteria begin to multiply and can shorten your container’s shelf life. The USDA advises to never leave food out of refrigeration for over two hours, and if the temperature is over 90℉ it should not be left out for more than one hour.
Can You Freeze Sour Cream?
Unfortunately, most dairy products do not do well when frozen. Freezing sour cream does not make it unsafe for you to eat, but it does change the texture. If you plan to use sour cream as an ingredient in baking or cooking, the consistency will not matter. However, if you hope to use it as a dip or a topping, the texture will not be the same.
Freezing sour cream is a great way to preserve it if you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time.
Now that you know you can microwave sour cream, below are some related questions to give you some more information on substitutes for sour cream, what exactly curdling is, and how you can use sour cream in your kitchen.
Are there any substitutes for sour cream?
If you prefer not to use sour cream in your recipe or as a topping, some other condiments are similar to consider. Be sure to do some research with each substitution to ensure it will work with your recipe.
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Crème Fraîche
- Coconut milk
- Cream cheese
What is curdling?
As mentioned previously, your sour cream can curdle when reheated. It is most noticeable by the small lumps that form in the sour cream that appear after you heat or reheat it. Curdling does not change the taste or quality of sour cream, but it does make it look less appetizing. If this happens when you reheat your sour cream, it is still safe to eat!
What types of recipes use sour cream?
Most people have used sour cream as a topping, but not everyone has used it as an ingredient. You can use sour cream when cooking meats like chicken, salmon, and beef. It is also used in many soups and baked goods such as bread, cookies, and pound cake.
Yes, you can microwave your sour cream when needed. If you reheat your sour cream, be sure to use a separate container, set your microwave’s power to medium or low depending on the type of sour cream, and heat in short intervals. If you need to heat a large quantity of sour cream, separate it into smaller portions and heat those individually to prevent curdling. As you check the temperature, stir the sour cream to evenly distribute heat.
Sour cream is a must-have ingredient and condiment in any household. Be sure to keep in mind proper storage and usage to keep its shelf-life as long as possible!