How Long Does Heavy Cream Last?

Got a half-finished carton of heavy cream and now sure how and how long you can store it? How long does heavy cream last?

Or there’s a quite old container of whipping cream in the back of the fridge, and you’re not sure if it’s still usable or not.

In either case, this article is for you. In it, we talk about the shelf life, signs of spoilage, and storage practices for heavy cream.

Let’s go.

Heavy cream in hand
Heavy cream in hand

How Long Does Heavy Cream Last?

Heavy cream (sometimes called “heavy whipping cream”), like all other dairy products, comes with a date. That’s a good starting point.

Typically, heavy cream retains quality for an extra three to five days past that date. But as usual, you get the best results if you use the product before the date on the package ([LL]).

Tip

If you plan on whipping that heavy cream, go with a fresh one if possible. Old heavy cream might not whip as well, and you might end up with soft sort-of-whipped cream.

Whisks after whipping heavy cream
Whisks after whipping heavy cream

When it comes to an opened container of heavy cream, the storage period depends on the manufacturer and the production process. Some recommend finishing the dairy product within three days ([EM]), while others say it’s even up to 10 days ([LL]). In short, check the label and go with what it says.

Your heavy cream might stay okay for a day or two longer, but don’t rely on that. Plus, the quality certainly won’t be that great after all this time.

Info

Storage periods vary between types of heavy cream. For example, ultra-pasteurized heavy cream tends to last longer than its regular counterpart.

If your container is pushing its date, check if it’s okay to use it before adding it to your dish.

Heavy cream sealed with aluminum foil
Heavy cream sealed with aluminum foil and a rubber band

How To Store Heavy Cream

Heavy cream requires refrigeration ([LL]), both before and after opening.

Tip

If you plan on storing that container for an extended period, put it in the back of the fridge instead of the door. This way, it keeps a relatively stable temperature and will retain quality for longer.

Once you open the container, remember to always seal it before returning it to the refrigerator.

If it’s one of those resealable cartons that whipping cream often comes in, good for you. If not, use an airtight container, so you can seal it tight.

Tip

If everything else fails, grab some aluminum foil and a rubber band. They make an okayish makeshift seal.

Thick heavy cream in a container
Thick heavy cream in a plastic container

Can You Freeze Heavy Cream?

For starters, you should know that producers usually don’t recommend freezing ([LL]). That’s because the process affects the texture of the product.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make freezing heavy cream work.

Now, let’s talk whipping. If you need whipping cream, whip the cream first and then freeze it. It won’t work the other way around.

When it comes to using frozen and thawed heavy cream, it works best in cooked (or baked) dishes. That means creamy soups, casseroles, and pies.

Warning

Using heavy cream as-is after thawing yields mediocre results at best.

If you’d like to learn more, read our guide on freezing heavy cream.

Pancake topped with whipped cream
Pancake topped with thawed whipped cream

How To Tell If Heavy Cream Is Bad?

Like with sour cream or ricotta cheesesome separation on top of thick heavy cream is okay.

Info

Heavy cream is usually liquid, especially if it’s meant for whipping. But there are also denser ones available that are similar in texture to sour cream.

Now, let’s talk about signs of spoilage for heavy cream:

  • mold or discoloration, either on the surface or on the neck of the container
  • heavy separation
  • sour smell – if it smells like sour cream, it’s gone
  • off taste – eat a tiny bit to make sure it’s okay

If either of the list above is present, get rid of that container of heavy cream.

Opened container of thick heavy cream
Opened container of thick heavy cream, a bit of liquid on top is okay

Last but not least, let’s talk about whipping.

If your cream doesn’t whip properly, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.

In my experience, sometimes heavy cream that’s otherwise perfectly okay doesn’t whip well. Maybe it’s because it’s too warm or a bit old. Or it’s just bad luck, who knows.

If it would ruin your dessert, discard it. If it only slightly misses the mark, consider using it. Maybe nobody will notice.

Tip

Before whipping cream, make sure the cream, the bowl, and the whisk are cold. Consider putting the cream in the freezer for 10 minutes, and the rest to the fridge for the same period.

Pouring whipped cream
Pouring whipped cream

Sources