Q & A: What To Do With Soured Cream

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I’m digging in the eCourse forums for today’s (cultured dairy related) Q & A. This question comes from DeDe.

“I have some raw cream that’s been in my fridge for about a month. It now smells sour but not quite like sour cream. What can I do with it? It doesn’t smell “bad” necessarily like pasteurized cream would smell and it’s not clumpy. It’s very thick, though, just like thick cream.”

Boy, I’ve been there, and I have very good news for you. As you know, raw milk and cream sour rather than spoil — reason #4 of the 6 reasons (raw) cultured dairy is so fabulous. You can still use this cream!

This kind of gently soured cream makes the best cultured butter! You can even sour it a bit more — by adding a mother culture, such as buttermilk with active cultures or a mesophilic cheese culture. Refer to the instructions in the cultured butter post for more information on this.

cultured butter

(By the way, I’ll be sharing a video tutorial of making cultured butter in the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eCourse.)

Another idea. If you want to use your soured cream right away, it makes a wonderful creme fraiche to drizzle on burritos, tacos, chili, soups, stews, potatoes, oatmeal, granola… or on fresh fruit! Even chocolate ice cream is fantastic just a teensy bit sour. :)

Sloppy Joe's In a Bowl

Some of my recipes which are great with drizzly soured cream are:

As long as you add it at the end and it doesn’t get too hot — you’ve just boosted or added probiotic benefits to all those meals! :)

split mung bean soup

If you’d prefer the cream a bit more sour — more creme fraiche like — just leave it out at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours for the cream to develop its culture. Or you can boost the culturing by adding live buttermilk or a mesophilic culture.

Now it’s your turn to help DeDe out. How do you use up slightly soured cream? Please share in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    That’s the cool thing about raw dairy – it does sour and remain usable. Pasteurized dairy simply rots/goes rancid and is not usable once it ages. Thanks for sharing.

      • leeann says

        Hello, I separated off the cream from my raw milk as soon as I brought it home to use as,a creamer and it has separated and looks like it went sour quickly. I would like to make cheese with it. Is that possible? Is there a video on how to make cheese? Thank you

  2. rebecca says

    I was wondering about this myself and I finally just threw it out, because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Now I know better… :0)

    I also have a question…..I put some sour milk in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge because I know you can still use it. However, I never got around to using and it sat in the fridge for several months. During that time, it seperated into a yellowish-greenish liquid on bottom and thick white stuff on top. It didn’t smell bad…..sort of yeast-y. I wondered if that was curds and whey? I have seen several posts about making whey and they all say to leave it out at room temperature, but is it possible to do in the fridge?

    • says

      Rebecca — That is completely normal behavior. Over the time, the acidity causes the curds to clump and the whey to separate out — in other words: clabbered cheese! And yes, it can happen in the refrigerator. The beneficial organisms (yeasts and bacteria) in the milk proliferate at lower temperatures too, just more slowly. If it smells yeasty but not spoiled, it is still good! (Though very sour, likely.) You may have bits of mold or spoiled parts floating on top. If so, those can be skimmed off.

      I suggest straining it through cheesecloth and using the “cheese” in dips, dressings, spread on toast, seasoned up with herbs and salt…. MM…. one of my favorite foods! Clabbered milk cheese. The whey can be used in lacto-ferments and for soaking grains, beans, or flour.

  3. says

    Hi Wardee baby! I have some raw soured cream in my fridge that is so thick when you turn it over in the container it does NOT drip out at all! I am planning on making cultured butter out of it this week! Very cool question. i also keep two milk jugs in the fridge, the fresh milk and the soured which I use in all cooking. There is never a need to dump raw milk under normal circumstances and it can always be made into cheese too! I love it and I will always use it! What’s up with Tuesday Twister?? Stopped by to link up, hope all is well with you! Alex

    • says

      Alex — You know what? I hate to admit this, but I totally forgot about Tuesday Twister! Sheesh! I hurried to get out the door this morning to a full day of errands and it slipped my mind! My apologies. :) Thanks for stopping by, though — it is always great to “see” you! (P.S. I’m writing from the library…. )

  4. says

    Hi, Wardee. I was wondering if you know how long sour milk remains useable if kept refrigerated. Even just an estimate. Thanks for any help you can give. ~Karen

    • says

      Karen, it can keep for many weeks. It depends on the conditions exactly how many weeks or months. It will get more sour over time, yeasty smelling, and separate into curds and whey. There may be bits of mold on the surface. Those can be skimmed off, and the rest you’d want to do a smell check to see if the mold has penetrated. If it just smells sour, it is likely good — though very strong!

  5. Doris says

    Hi, I just signed up for this site and I have a similar situation wt. sour half and half but it is not a raw milk product but it is exactlly as DeDe described. So is my product ok to us also.

    • says

      Doris — If the half and half was not raw, it will have spoiled rather than soured. Because pasteurization kills beneficial organisms naturally present in the milk, there’s no protection from spoiling bacteria getting a foothold. So you should go by the expiration date on the package as well as your nose to see if you can still use it. If in doubt, toss it. If you think it is marginal but leaning toward ok — cook it!

  6. Sarah says

    So…somebody from my milkshare didn’t pick up their milk the other week. I let it sit out, cultured it, and got cheese and butter. They look awesome and have wonderful texture, but just the smell is enough to make me sick to my stomach. They don’t smell rancid or spoiled, just a weird sour that I’m don’t really like. Is this normal? I’m not scared to eat it (actually I think it’s awesome), I just think it tastes really bad. Is it an acquired taste?

    • says

      Sarah — Yes, it is an acquired taste. And also the taste can vary from batch to batch depending on the milk source. The first time I made cultured butter, my husband didn’t really like it. But he has liked it since then and the last batch was a bit sweet and sour. Just delicious!

      What you’ve described sounds completely normal — and I think you just need to adjust to it. At least I hope so! :)

      • Ashley Baird says

        Do any of you ladies have trouble with soured cream tasting bitter? Not just sour, but bitter and awful. It doesn’t always taste that bad, but my soured cream (on top of sour milk, not plain) always tastes a little bitter and last time it was terrible. I though perhaps the cow had eaten something bitter.

        I have had the same trouble with homemade butter sometimes tasting bad. I don’t know if the taste is just too hard to acquire or if I’m doing something wrong. Have you found that it’s better to use fresh milk or cream to make sour things, or old (like last week’s milk that you didn’t use up)?

        • Michelle says

          I have had soured cream also taste bitter and wonder what on earth happened? It seems that it is more bitter more often than just sour. The soured cream that isn’t bitter has a lovely and rather pleasant soured taste. The bitter cream on the other hand is terrible! Anyone else have those problems or know what the cause may be? I was wondering if the jars in which the farmers put the milk maybe weren’t clean enough and had some undfriendly bacteria that would give the milk a bitter taste. It is very unpleasant and not at all what soured cream should taste like from what I remember as a kid. We do have the occasionaly batch, however, that sours very nicely.

          I would so like to hear what others have to say about this!

          Wardee, God bless you for sharing your knowledge!

        • says

          Ashley — If there’s a bitter taste, yes — it could be something the cow ate. Or, as Michelle suggested, it could be that something got in the milk, not to spoil it necessarily, but to compete with the fresh flavors.

          Those are usually the culprits. It does happen. As you know, home culturing does not take place in a lab and there are variables, sometimes out of our control — or over time, to be improved. :)

        • says

          Ashely — On your last question. I have not noticed a difference in which cream I use for butter. Although I have to say I enjoy the older myself for the more complex sour flavor. I think my husband prefers the fresher that is then cultured. :)

          • Ashley says

            Thank you for the tips. I guess I’ll have to keep trying and make sure my jars are quite clean.

          • says

            Ashley, Michelle, and Wardee,

            This is just the conversation I was looking for. I have had some stress-related health issues crop up that have necessitated me cutting out even healthy sugars and grains for a while. :-( I find myself eating a lot more dairy, since we have finally found a reliable/affordable source.

            However, we often have extra that goes sour. Years ago, I tried to make my own raw clabbered cheese, etc., but I could never get used to the taste. Now, I still can’t bear to waste our soured milk, so I have been experimenting with kefir, clabbered cheese, soured milk, and buttermilk ranch-type dressing. I can’t say I am having much success learning to like them yet though.

            I find myself putting off having to eat them until there is not much left in the house for me to eat or until there is a chance they will be so sour I would have to give them to the animals. :-( It makes eating a dread, and I know that’s not good. I guess this isn’t much of a question, just a little vent.

            I have noticed some of the end results tasting bitter. The others (sorry for the detail) are an and/or between bitter and barf. If you flavor them up enough it becomes more faint, but it is still lurking, and since I have a no sugar option right now, I am stuck with only stevia, which you must carefully moderate, lest it add its own bitterness.

            We made raw strawberry ice cream for our daughter’s birthday last night, and since my skin was clearing up, and it only had honey, I splurged a little. It was good, but since the cream was at least six days old it had just begun to sour. All through eating it, I could taste a hint of bitterness. Everybody else loved it and didn’t seem to notice. Hubby said he noticed, but he still loved it.

            We get our raw milk from some folks who supplement with some non-organic grains, and since it is winter . . . Maybe it is more than usual? I wonder if there are bitter residues in that? I just wish I could get used to the taste and look forward to it.

            Does anyone have a very specific starter recipe without sugar that could get me craving it? Or in lieu of that, is there a culture that someone has bought and had good success with that I should buy (i.e piima cream or similar) to aid the culturing process with a better flavor?

          • says

            I should probably clarify what I said at the end about the cultured products tasting like barf. The products haven’t gone bad, and I can eat them without getting sick. The smell and taste is just sometimes so similar to the aforementioned term that it turns me off. It is not a revolting smell just not one I particularly crave. At the same time, I am one of those people who have to walk out of the room if someone is sick to their stomach, because the smell or sound can make me join them. Is there any hope for me? I want cultured dairy in my life. I know it is good for me, even better than sweet milk in terms of probiotics. I sense I need them to help me get back to optimal health.

  7. says

    Wow! Thanks for all the great suggestions. I guess I wasn’t nicknamed “Twenty Questions” in 5th grade for nothing, right?

    thanks, Wardee.


  8. says

    Sort of related question….I have some Goat’s Milk Kefir in my frig….homemade….how long will it last? And can I still use the kefir grains after I pour off the milk? It’s been in the frig for about two weeks. Thank you in advance! I (and my gluten free blog readers) would love to know!

    • says

      Hi, Gluten Free Diva!

      Like Karen’s sour milk above, the goat’s milk kefir can keep for many weeks. It depends on the conditions exactly how many weeks or months. It will get more sour over time, yeasty and even alcoholic smelling, and separate into curds and whey. If you get bits of mold on the surface, skim them off. To see if the rest is good, do a smell check. If it is sour, alcoholic, and yeasty, it is probably okay. It is usually strong/sour after a few weeks.

      Yes, the grains can be poured off and used again. A good way to store them in between batches is in a small amount of milk in the refrigerator, changed weekly. Even if you don’t change weekly, the grains are probably going to be okay. Best practice (so your kefir doesn’t get so sour) is to remove the grains before you store the finished kefir in the fridge. With the grains in there, it will sour more quickly even in the fridge. I hope this helps!

  9. Bethany says

    I had no idea. I just threw out some raw soured cream 2 days ago because I assumed it was just bad. Next time I will use it!

  10. says

    I get excited when I have soured cream…. It’s the perfect excuse to make butter-pecan ice cream! I heat some milk and egg yolks until just thickened, mixed with chopped crispy pecans, then add the soured cream, salt, and a little stevia and freeze. The soured cream adds the butter flavor on it’s own, and the high amount of salt in this ice cream means it is soft right out of the freezer. Yum!

  11. Anne-Marie Emanuelli says

    so glad to read this information. I love this slightly sour “creme fraiche” that I accidentally “created” when we forgot to pick up our fresh milk and it sat 3 days in the cooler. It is beautiful and thick. I will try my hand at making a little butter with it but I don’t really know how. Do you have suggestions? Thank you.

  12. Peggy says

    I am new to Raw Milk via GAPS Diet. I just tried to make sour cream after taking off the cream from my gallon of milk, I added a bit of yogurt to it. (which I am very successful at making) I left it on my counter in a clean mason jar for a day but it smelled really stinky. I put it in the refrigerator anyway and checked it in 4 days. It smelled really bad. I tasted………………….not too bad but the smell was not good. I disposed of that.
    I tried again this week by taking the cream off the milk. I put the cream on my counter in a clean mason jar with the lid on loosely. I kept it on my counter for 2 days because I live in Michigan and it isn’t very warm here. It isn’t much different than it was in consistency today (just a little clumpy on the edges) but smells a little sour. I put it in the refrigerator. I have read a lot of recipes for making sour cream that suggest adding buttermilk but I didn’t have any buttermilk.
    What do you think?

  13. Sandy says

    Hi Wardee,

    What a great topic! I would be interested to see some photos of the different stages raw cream goes through, so I have some idea of what it looks like when it is still good to use. I gave some old cream to the dogs and cats as I was not sure if it was still fit for human consumption.

    Thanks for the great post.

  14. Karen says

    Thank you for this post – I was able to turn some slightly soured cream into some really yummy butter instead of throwing it out.

    I have another question I can’t seem to find the answer to. I got some raw milk sour cream from my farmer and it was the most delicious stuff ever! But I’ve not eaten it as fast as I’d like and it’s now pretty soured smelling. So, I’m guess it doesn’t make butter because something else was done to it, or should I just try making it into butter too?

  15. Suzy Q says

    I love the idea of using my soured raw cream to make cultured butter…I’m just not so keen on the taste of naturally clabbered milk. Does the butter taste the same? Too many years of the store bought “buttermilk culture” in my taste bud history I guess. Here a while back, I had skimmed all the cream off of 3 gallons of milk and was planning on making butter…but I forgot…and it soured in the fridge. So I added more fresh cream to it and put it in the crockpot hoping to kill off the taste somewhat since I have not yet acquired that taste. When it cools I’ll add some cultured buttermilk to see if I can make a sort of “sour cream” with a taste we like a little better. Before we got our cow, I had been buying ultra pasteurized (yikes) cream from the store, warming it to 85 degrees and then adding cultured buttermilk and letting it sit on the counter overnight for about 12 hours. This gave me picture and (for our tastes) palate perfect sour cream. However I found out that the natural cultures in the raw cream inhibit the growth of the buttermilk culture so I couldn’t do this anymore with my raw cream. I’m hoping that I can somewhat duplicate the result using my crockpot to lightly pasterurize the cream. I know it’s not as great for us as the natural cultures in the milk, but it IS still cultured at least. Any ideas, suggestions, horrific outcrys? ;O

  16. Sigrid Aronsson says

    Hello Wardeh, I have a question. I was by a farmer who had lots of raw cream left over and we made about 25 kilo of raw butter with it. We added a culture as told by a man who makes cheese, so it would not go bad, since we had only one kitchen machine to do it with, and it took hours for each batch. I washed it in a bit of water and added himalaya salt to it. It was quite messy but it tasted wondeful. Someone told us it would last for 3 weeks, but even before that it started to go sour, and now I have put 10 kilo in the freezer and the rest smells sour. I was told I can heat it and skim it and then use it. Can I use this sour butter for baking cakes with cinnamon, it might cover up the taste. Or is it bad now and need to be thrown out? Thanks in advance, Sigrid in Denmark.

  17. Katee Woodby via Facebook says

    Mine tastes too grassy after it sits for any more than a week. Any tips to reduce that flavor?

  18. Laura Nixon Guild via Facebook says

    Question about Sloppy Joes Bowl recipe. Do I drain the soaked rice before adding the stock? :-(

  19. Cheryl Ann Dwyer via Facebook says

    cookies, pancakes, cakes…there’s a lot of recipes that call for milk that you can easily substitute this. Your cakes, even box mixes, will rise a bit higher & be very moist. Same thing with home made cookies.

  20. Mary Mack via Facebook says

    Sour cream chocolate cake…I grew up on a farm and this is what mom made with sour cream..yum

  21. Sigrid Aronsson says

    According to a lady from Morocco, raw butter never goes bad and in Morocco they put sour butter on cous-cous. It is incredibly tasty, tastes a bit like cheese. That is the best cous-cous. And they cook chicken with it. I just gave her a jar of it.

  22. Lisa Stewart via Facebook says

    Raw milk that’s gone slightly off is okay to put in smoothies. Raw cream that’s soured can go in MASHED POTATOES. Now my mouth is watering.

  23. says

    I usually can keep my raw cream for about 3 weeks in the frig…after that it tastes way too sour to use. It’s not the same sour as when you purposely leave it out to sour when it’s still sweet. Unless someone else has a way of using it after it’s gone “bad”, I throw it. :(

  24. says

    I usually can keep my raw cream for about 3 weeks in the frig…after that it tastes way too sour to use. It’s not the same sour as when you purposely leave it out to sour when it’s still sweet. Unless someone else has a way of using it after it’s gone “bad”, I throw it. :(

  25. Jacque Dunn via Facebook says

    When I was growing up you found sour cream butter in the grocery. Now all you find unless you are very luck is sweet cream butter.

    • Sigrid Aronsson says

      Of course. It is too healthy. They managed to Black PR unpasteurized milk which sour cream butter is made of and of course people bought it. So now it is almost impossible to find. You’d have to start your own farm; but they managed to make it very hard for farmers to make a living of growing healthy foods so that is almost impossible too unless it is just for the family. That is why so many people get sick with all kinds of weird diseases – people believing the media. They black PR everything decent.

  26. Jennifer Neddo via Facebook says

    You could make homemade donuts with it :) my great gram always make sour milk ones, don’t see why soured cream wouldn’t work

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