Sour cream can be frozen to extend its use, but it will not be the same product after it is thawed. Sour cream separates and looks a little like cottage cheese when it is frozen, and some consumers may find this unpleasant. When this happens, sour cream can be whisked or blended back to a more creamy consistency, but it should never be used as a topping because the texture is not perfect. Frozen sour cream can be used in many recipes where the texture is not important because its flavor remains the same.
Frozen sour cream can be used in baking as long as it is a full-fat sour cream that is fully thawed. The thawed sour cream should be whisked and added as usual for cakes, muffins, cookies, pancakes and quick breads. Do not use previously frozen sour cream in cheesecakes because it will not create the desired smooth texture of the finished cake. Nonfat and low-fat sour cream are not ideal in baking, and these products can not be used at all after they’ve been frozen.
Casseroles, Soups and Stews
The grainy texture of previously frozen sour cream does not affect the finished product when incorporated into casseroles, soups or stews. For example, beef stroganoff needs the tangy creamy addition of sour cream to complete the traditional flavor. Texture is not an issue in this recipe because the sour cream is heated up and hidden in the sauce. Thaw the sour cream, whisk or blend it to even out the texture and add the required amount for the recipe. Other recipes that may use frozen sour cream include chicken paprika, leek and potato soup, Hungarian goulash and Swedish meatballs. Do not use frozen sour cream to top a dish because the unpleasant lumpy texture will wreck the effect.
Gratins and Other Vegetable Dishes
Some vegetable dishes incorporate sour cream to add creaminess and flavor. Mashed potatoes is one dish where you can use sour cream that has been frozen and thawed out. The sour cream will be slightly runny, so other liquids added to the potatoes should be reduced to maintain the desired texture. Any type of gratin such as scalloped potatoes or yams can benefit from the addition of the sour cream with no discernible difference in texture. Baked potatoes should not be topped with previously frozen sour cream because it will not have the desired creamy appearance.
Dips and Sauces
Sour cream is a common addition to dips or sauces and it can still be used in these recipes as long as it is not the base ingredient. The runny texture of frozen sour cream needs to be smoothed out with mayonnaise or yogurt to create a usable dip. Dips with lots of other additions such as grated cheese, artichokes, chopped spinach or grated cucumber can also use frozen sour cream because its texture will be undetectable.
References and ResourcesEpicurious: Sour Cream Recipes
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County: Cook it Quick: Common Foods That May Not Freeze Well
O Chef: (Not)Freezing Sour Cream