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How Long Can Heavy Cream Last After Opening?

heavy cream in measuring cup
heavy cream in measuring cup - Michelle Lee Photography/Getty Images

Many recipes call for just one to two cups of heavy cream, whether you're making a pasta sauce like vodka or alfredo sauce, or making a vegetable side like creamed spinach. Sometimes you may only need to add a splash to a dish. So what should you do with the heavy cream leftover in the carton? How long can you keep using that container of heavy cream, and how do you properly store it?

Compared to other milk products, heavy cream has a surprisingly long shelf life. An opened container of heavy cream can last up to one month – as long as it's been properly refrigerated the entire time, of course. Yes, that means you should be extra careful about forgetting to put it away and leaving it out on the counter for too long after splashing some into your morning coffee. And if your heavy cream is unopened, you can even trust that it's still good after the expiration date. Once again, just make sure it's been refrigerated the entire time, and look out for a few key signs that the heavy cream might be spoiled.

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How Do You Know When Heavy Cream Goes Bad?

spoiled dairy product in bottle
spoiled dairy product in bottle - AB-7272/Shutterstock

As with milk, the bacteria naturally found in heavy cream can begin to grow over time, developing into more dangerous bacteria that have the possibility to make you ill. Take a look for any visible mold growing or any discoloration in the heavy cream. A change in the cream's texture, such as the formation of curdles, is also a sign the cream is going bad. If you see nothing that causes concern but you smell something funky or sour, still proceed with caution. A sour smell indicates that the bacteria in the cream could be growing. Luckily, heavy cream has been pasteurized – meaning the cream has been cooked at a high heat to kill off most bacteria.

Note that if you've purchased ultra-pasteurized heavy cream, it'll have an even longer shelf life. This is because the cream has been heated even longer than regular heavy cream, so more of the bacteria has been killed off. Lingering bacteria in the cream is natural and normal, which is why it's important to properly store your unopened or opened heavy cream to avoid more bacteria growth. And if your heavy cream has gone bad, there are some heavy cream substitutes you can turn to in a pinch.

Where To Store Your Heavy Cream In The Refrigerator

woman looking in fridge
woman looking in fridge - Morsa Images/Getty Images

You may be used to storing heavy cream on the door of your refrigerator, near beverages like juice or milk. But if you've opened and used some of your heavy cream, your safest bet for storage is placing the carton toward the back, or at the bottom, of your fridge. This is because the door of the fridge is the warmest part, as its contents are frequently exposed to room-temperature air when the fridge is opened and closed.

Storing your heavy cream in the back or bottom of the fridge ensures it is in the coldest possible place. It's far away from the door, safely tucked away from warmer air exposure. And cold air sinks while heat rises, so the bottom shelf is your best bet. As long as you keep your opened heavy cream in these conditions, it should be safe to cook with and consume for up to a month.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.