For bakers and other people who are making lovely desserts, heavy cream is an important ingredient that makes pies and custards attractive to look at and makes customers or family members dig in because of its deliciousness. All of us are addicted to it.
Now, if you’re indeed a fan of heavy cream, two things are likely to happen after using some of it for a recipe: either it gets poured down the drain wasted, or it is left on the fridge for so long that we forget all about it. As the time comes that we need to stock on food, including this common kitchen ingredient, you might want to know how long it lasts to avoid food waste and adhere to food safety. A quick note: check the label and base on the pack’s best before date.
The Secret of Heavy Cream
Not because heavy cream consists of milk, it should be thrown away immediately because of its spoilage risk. That’s overreacting! Heavy cream lasts longer than you expected it to be, and there’s no need to throw away any leftovers. In fact, there are many types of heavy cream, depending on how the manufacturer prepares it.
Pasteurisation is a process common in preparing milk for commercial production. Therefore, most of the heavy cream you can buy at grocery stores has a longer shelf life; they are UHT (Ultra-High Temperature) heavy creams that keep it fresh and stable. This is different from the lightly pasteurised heavy cream of a local dairy. With milk being a possible breeding ground for bacteria, the cream is separated from the milk’s butterfat layer using a centrifuge. It is then pasteurised to reduce the number of bacteria in the milk.
Nasty events can happen if milk or heavy cream isn’t pasteurised as bacteria or fungi can grow into it, affecting the consistency and taste of heavy cream. But deadly bacteria can also grow on milk products such as Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, E. coli, and Salmonella species, which can lead to diarrhea, worse, miscarriages for pregnant women. Pasteurization not only prolongs milk products’ shelf life but also reduces the risk of bacteria.
How Long Can Heavy Cream Sit Out?
Being a key ingredient to our favourite pastries, it is quite confusing whether to buy a big can of heavy cream or get tired of buying small packs. To at least shed light on the confusion, it is important to note some of these key points.
Packs of heavy cream would always have expiration dates on them, and it is standard knowledge that once you opened a heavy cream, it is more at risk to spoil. The quality of the cream itself, what’s in the fridge, or your area’s temperature are all variables that affect its shelf life.
- Room Temperature. The maximum time that an opened pack of cream can last over the counter is 2 hours. Food-borne bacteria form faster when a milk product is exposed to the air. After these 2 hours, the heavy cream is no longer good for consumption. Else, check for yourself.
- Refrigerator. Opened heavy cream can take as long as 5 to 7 days when sealed in a refrigerator. Remember to seal it in an airtight container to avoid exposure to odor and air.
- Freezer. Heavy cream can sit out in the freezer for up to 4 months, so if you plan on buying a large pack of heavy cream, better store it in the freezer.
Storing and Using Leftover Heavy Cream
Properly storing leftover heavy cream can prolong its life and save us time during the preparations of ingredients. Read on about some tips in storing heavy cream.
- Airtight Containers. After opening a pack of heavy cream, seal it right away with the lid that comes with it. Aluminum foil, airtight plastics, and even airtight containers can also do the trick. If you think that containers aren’t enough, grab a rubber band and tie it on the middle of the lid and the container’s body.
- Put it in a Refrigerator. To avoid heavy cream getting warm from the non-stop open and closing you do with the fridge, put it in the refrigerator’s main body. It is also best to immediately put the heavy cream in the refrigerator once you open it.
- Freeze it. Although not recommended widely as freezing can alter the cream’s appearance, it is still advisable to do so if you plan on lengthening its lifespan. Remember to thaw it first before using it again for another recipe. If you need whipping cream, whip the cream first before freezing it.
- Divide and Partition. If you want to save time, you can make partitions by putting the cream in ice cube trays, freezing it, and use small liquid cream parts as you bought it yesterday. This is a nice hack in making cream soups and pies.
- Make Recipes Out of It. You can turn leftover heavy cream into sour cream, whipping cream, and ice cream! Experiment with it and have fun.
Determining Spoiled Heavy Cream
In case your store-bought heavy cream had been in the fridge too long, and you’re wondering if it’s still good for consumption, read on for some indications of spoilage:
- Discoloration and Molds. The formation of molds can change the color of heavy cream, and the fat separates it. As molds are a sure sign of spoilage, throw this cream away. However, enzymes can make the heavy cream appear light yellow, and it is still safe to eat.
- Off Smell. A good heavy cream smells fine as it is; a sour-smelling heavy cream is not safe anymore for consumption.
- Big Changes on Texture. Heavy cream that has gone rancid would appear chunky and would have a clumpy texture. Little separations in the cream are fine, but heavy separations tell otherwise.
- Unpleasant Taste. Get a small amount of heavy cream to taste, and if it tastes unpleasant, it is also unpleasant for your body.
Heavy cream is a vulnerable ingredient that we need to know how to handle. Listed are the takeaways from this article:
- Put heavy cream in the refrigerator immediately after using it.
- Opened heavy cream lasts 2 hours at room temperature, 1 month in the refrigerator, and 4 months in the freezer. Although it is still best to check the label before buying heavy cream on the market.
- If the heavy cream looks, tastes, and smells fine, it is fine to eat. A light-yellow color can indicate enzymes, but it is not an indication of spoilage. If there are molds or a sour smell, don’t hesitate to throw the heavy cream in the trash can.
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