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Homemade Sour Cream (Updated Version)

Homemade Sour Cream (Updated Version)

I was looking at my 2011 post on Homemade Sour Cream and realized that I haven’t posted about any of the tips and tricks I’ve learned for making it better. So, here we are. The updated version…

Sour cream is very easy to make at home. It takes about one minute of hands-on time, unless you count the time that you wait for your water to boil. Then, you have to let it sit for 12-24 hours. When it’s done, you just give it a stir and put it in the fridge. It’s a good idea to label it with the date, too.

What You Need to Know.

Sour cream is supposed to have live, active cultures, like yogurt. When you make your own you know that it does (if it doesn’t, it won’t turn into sour cream). This makes it good for your digestion, which is a great thing in any food item. If you’re the kind of person that wants to know exactly what is in their food, making your own will put your mind at ease, too. Not to mention, it’s very easy to make, it’s delicious, and it will impress your friends.

What You Need.

  • 2 glass jars with lids
  • A cooler
  • Buttermilk
  • Heavy cream
  • Water – to sterilize your jar and heat the cooler

I use:

  • About ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 24oz freezer jar for the sour cream
  • 1 large jar for the hot water

 

How It’s Done

Prep work:

  • Boil some water. I fill the kettle so I’ll have plenty.
  • Put your jars and the lid for the sour cream jar in the sink.
  • Pour boiling water into the jar, swish it around, and dump it out.
  • Clean the lid in a similar fashion.
  • Fill the larger jar with boiling water and put the lid on.
  • You’ll need to wear oven mitts.

Putting it together:

  • Pour the buttermilk and cream into the jar.
  • Put the lid on and shake it up.
  • Take the lid off and leave it off. It needs to breath.
  • Put both jars in the cooler and close it.
  • Leave it alone for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Take out your sour cream and stir.
  • Put the lid on and put it in the fridge. It will thicken some more when it cools.

You’re done!

Do You Have to Use a Cooler?

No. You don’t have to, but I find I get better results this way. It keeps it warm, so the cultures can really do their thing and you get thicker sour cream.

If you don’t want to use a cooler, you can just set it on top of your refrigerator and cover it with a cloth to keep the light out and keep stuff from falling in. If you do it that way you should use cheesecloth held on with the lid ring, or twine or a rubber band. And then, put a dishtowel over the whole thing.

If you want the cooler effect, but don’t have one you can use for this, improvise. You can use any container and something to provide insulation. A cardboard or plastic box filled with towels would be better than nothing. I don’t recommend using actual fiberglass insulation, for obvious reasons.

Do You Have to Use Heavy Cream?

No, but it yields the best results. Milk works, too, but it will not get nearly as thick. It will still taste good, and the consistency is fine for some recipes, like Ranch dressing or cheese sauce. But, it will be a runny mess on a baked potato or burrito.

Can I Make It Thicker?

Adding powdered milk to your cream or milk will make it thicker. Make sure you mix it in really well. If heavy cream is too pricey for you, try whole milk with added powdered milk.

What if I Don’t Have Buttermilk?

What you need are the live active cultures. You can buy packets of sour cream starter culture online. If you happen to have sour cream with live active cultures, you could use that in place of buttermilk.

The old trick of adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk to make “buttermilk” doesn’t work for this. No cultures.

Why Use a Freezer Jar?

You don’t have to. Freezer jars are straight. Since it doesn’t have a shoulder, it’s easier to get all the sour cream out. Less waste and easier cleanup. But, any kind of jar you have around will work.

 

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Homemade Sour Cream

Homemade Sour Cream

Until recently I had no idea how easy it is to make your own sour cream. So far, this costs about the same amount as store-bought sour cream, but there are some advantages that make it worth it, and there may be a trick to make it cheaper (I’ll explain that part later).

Sour cream is supposed to have live, active cultures, like yogurt. When you make your own you know that it does (if it doesn’t, it won’t turn into sour cream). This makes it good for your digestion, which is a great thing in any food item. If you’re the kind of person that wants to know exactly what is in their food, making your own will put your mind at ease, too. Not to mention, it’s very easy to make and you can impress your friends.

Ingredients:

¼ cup buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream (or milk)

Instructions:

Find a clean glass jar with a lid. I save mine when I buy sauces and such. Boil some water, pour it into the jar, swish it around, and dump it out. Clean the lid in a similar fashion.

Put the buttermilk and cream in the jar, put the lid on, and shake it up until it’s mixed up real good. Set it on the counter or on top of your fridge, cover with a dishtowel, and let it sit up to 24 hours, undisturbed. To check it, tilt the jar. It should have thickened. Refrigerate before serving.

That’s it. You’re done. You now have sour cream! Who would have guessed it was that easy. You should try it at least once, just because you can.

Tips:

The buttermilk must have live cultures. The cultures in buttermilk die off over time, so if it’s almost out-of-date it may not work.

Your sour cream will be thicker than your liquid no matter what, but if you use plain, whole milk it will still be pretty runny. Heavy cream seems to create a nice consistency, still not as thick as I would prefer, but thick enough to use on burritos without a runny mess. However, heavy cream is expensive.

Adding powdered milk may be the key to getting thicker, stiffer sour cream, and saving money. I know it works with homemade yogurt (I’ll post my recipe for that soon). I haven’t tried it in sour cream yet, but I will.

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