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
- Heavy cream
- Water – to sterilize your jar and heat the cooler
- 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
- 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.
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.