From sour cream enchiladas to beef Stroganoff, you can freeze most of your favorite dishes that include sour cream. Choose dishes that combine sour cream with other foods, and cook tortillas, noodles and other starchy ingredients until they're just tender. They'll soften slightly in the freezer and become even softer once you reheat them. Avoid freezing sour cream on its own or as a topping. You'll likely find the results disappointing.
On its own, sour cream doesn't fare well in the freezer. It becomes grainy and watery, and that tangy flavor becomes more pronounced. However, combining sour cream with other ingredients, such as cream cheese or a can of condensed soup, helps stabilize it. You may still notice a tangier taste, but the dish remains passable.
Careful packing improves the taste and quality of any frozen food made with sour cream. To freeze dishes with sour cream, cool the dish in the refrigerator. Pack the food in single-serving freezer-safe boxes or bags. To freeze a whole casserole, pack the food in a freezer-safe plastic or aluminum pan. To use regular baking pans, line the pans with aluminum foil or freezer paper. Put the food in the baking pan and seal the edges of the foil or paper tightly shut. Freeze the food solid, and then remove the frozen bundle from the pan. Label and date the bundles and stack them in the freezer. This method takes up less room in the freezer, and it frees your baking pans up for other uses.
Freezing doesn't kill bacteria, it just halts bacterial growth until you thaw the food, when it begins to multiply again. Sour cream is perishable and should be handled with care. Freeze any casseroles made with sour cream in a freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To thaw casseroles, refrigerate them overnight at 40 F. You can also place frozen casseroles directly in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F, and bake the casserole until hot and bubbly. A meat thermometer inserted in the middle of the casserole should read 165 F. When cooking frozen casseroles, increase the baking time by one-third to one-half.
How well a dish made with sour cream freezes depends on the other ingredients in the dish. Mayonnaise tends to separate when frozen, so if you're using both sour cream and mayonnaise, you may have double trouble. Sliced potatoes often turn watery and mushy in the freezer, although mashed potatoes perform better. For this reason, scalloped or cheesy potatoes don't freeze as well as twice-baked potatoes.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."