Does Half and Half Go Bad?

One of the most common varieties of cream products is half and half. It’s called half and half because the cream is made from one-half cream and one-half whole milk. This product is often used to add richness to hot drinks, soups, sauces, and savory desserts! Does half and half go bad?

Cream-based products are quite delicate so yes, half-and-half will spoil more quickly than other dairy products. This goes especially if the product was not prepped properly prior to storage. Half and half contains about 10.5% to 18% butterfat. The butterfat could break down easily if the half and half has been left sitting on the counter for too long. Store-bought half and half has a long shelf life but you have to keep the product tightly sealed once it’s been opened. Otherwise, spoilage will set in.

does half and half go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from lemon168

How to Store Half and Half?

The best way to store half and half is to keep it in the refrigerator. This method is ideal if you could use up the product fairly quickly. On the other hand, if you’d like to store the product for long term, you could freeze it. Let’s take a look at the best way to store half and half:

Storing Half and Half in the Refrigerator

Half and half is quite sensitive to heat and light exposure especially if it’s been opened. To extend the shelf life of the product, keep the opening of the packaging closed at all times. Place the carton of half and half in the coldest spot in the refrigerator. We don’t recommend storing the product on the fridge door. The temperature of the fridge door is too unstable.

Storing the half and half in the back of the fridge will extend the shelf life of the product because of the stable temperature.  Once you are ready to use the half and half, give the carton a good shake.

Storing Half and Half in the Freezer

Half and half freezes surprisingly well! For unopened cartons of half and half, there is no need to prep the product prior to freezing. Just stick the product in the freezer and you’re done. On the other hand, if you are freezing open carton of half and half, you should transfer it in an airtight opaque container. Do not transfer the product to a glass container. This will cause the cream to degrade much more quickly.

Just pour the product into your container, leaving several inches of space for the half and half to expand as it freezes. Close the airtight lid, write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

If you’d like to gradually use up your supply of frozen half and half, it is best to divide the product into serving portions. This is where ice cube trays come in handy! Just pour the half and half into the ice cube tray. Cover with cling wrap then stick in the freezer. Give the half and half about two to 4 hours to freeze until solid.

Once the half and half is frozen solid, take the ice cube tray out of the freezer. Prepare several resealable plastic bags and pop each cubed cream. Carefully place all the cream cubes into the resealable plastic bag. Squeeze as much air as you can before sealing the plastic bag. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer. Each time you need cream for your drink, pop a cubed cream into the hot drink. The cubed cream will melt as you stir your coffee.

does half and half go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from Terry Johnston

Shelf Life of Half and Half

How long does half and half last once opened? When kept in the fridge, an opened carton of half and half will keep for a week. When kept in the freezer, half and half will keep fresh for 4 to 6 months. However, consume the product quickly for optimal flavor!

How to Tell if Half and Half Has Gone Bad?

You can tell that the half and half has gone bad when it starts developing a sour taste and aroma. Also, check for curdles or lumps. When the half and half has turned lumpy, discard it. If say, the cream formed into clumps as it is poured into any hot liquid, the product is no longer safe to use.

The milk proteins and the milk liquids tend to separate when a carton of half and half is left untouched in the fridge for a few days. This is normal. Just give the carton of half and half a good shake to incorporate all proteins and milk liquids before using it again.

Summary

Store-bought half and half comes in cartons and they always go on sale. Does half and half go bad? Don’t be afraid to buy half and half in bulk. The cream will go bad only if you didn’t store it properly. With these tips, we’re sure that you’ll be able to maximize the storage life of half and half!