What is Sour Cream Used For?

Among the many ingredients that we use for cooking are some that we know little about. For example, what do you know about sour cream? You may have eaten dishes made with this unusual but versatile ingredient, but what is it and what is it used for? Sour cream is not, as many may think, a tub of cream that has gone sour. It is single cream that has had certain cultures added to give it the unique taste it has. What’s it used for? Usually to give a dish that extra touch of sharpness.

We want to talk about sour cream and its uses, but we also want to show you how you can tell when your sour cream has gone off. First, let’s have a look at those confusing dates that manufacturers put on food – the Use-By, and Sell-by.

Use-By and Sell-By Dates

There is a distinct difference between the use-by date and the sell-by date on sour cream and on all other foodstuff thus labelled. However, many people are unaware that plenty of items can be used beyond the date on the packing. The sell-by date is the date at which the item should remain on the shelves at the store. This is to ensure regular stock turnaround and keeps fresh food fresh on the shelf. Many shops may reduce the price after the sell-by date as it is still fit for consumption.

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The use-by date is applied to food that has a short shelf life. Fish, meat and dairy products come into this category. After this date it is inadvisable to eat such products. However, many manufacturers put a ‘best before’ date on the likes of tinned and packeted foods. This is the date at which the product is deemed to pass perfection, but it will not be dangerous to use. 

Now, back to sour cream, and how to tell if it’s bad and unfit for use. The first thing to say is it’s not a product we would use after the use by date. You can tell if it’s gone off by way of three tell-tale signs:

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  • The cream smells odd and not as it should.
  • There is mould growing on the surface.
  • The cream has turned a yellow colour rather than white.

The above should be obvious and easy to spot. Now let’s have a look at what sour cream is used for.

Uses of Sour Cream

If you’re not familiar with cooking with sour cream, you are about to expand your repertoire greatly. Sour cream is used in many meat dishes. For example, sour cream added to chicken and mushrooms gives it an extra edge that makes the dish stand out. It is also regularly used on fish, salmon in particular works well with sour cream, and with vegetables such as beet, cabbage and others where flavour needs adding to make something different from a basic recipe.

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Sour cream with steak will be offered as a dish in many a high class restaurant as it is a favourite with many people, and it has its place in a wide variety of great recipes that will add to your enjoyment of cooking. You can get some ideas by searching online for sour cream recipes and taking inspiration from some of the well-known chefs and TV cooks who this versatile ingredient.


Available from any high street store, sour cream is one ingredient that once you’ve used you will want to use more, so next time you go shopping add a tub to your basket to keep in the fridge for that inspired moment.

Philip Okoye
the authorPhilip Okoye
Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at

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