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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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You Can Make Your Own Cultured Buttermilk

You Can Make Your Own Cultured Buttermilk

Why Am I Making Buttermilk?

I’ve had a buttermilk issue for a few years now, and from what I hear I’m not alone. The problem is that I can’t find it in small amounts, and I almost never use up the whole container before it’s out of date. I have many uses for it, and I need it all the time, but I only use small amounts for all the uses.

I have been told that you can freeze it. I have tried that, but it didn’t work out for me at the time, and I wasn’t sure if the cultures would survive. Turns out, they do, but they don’t last a long time in the freezer and you really need to freeze the buttermilk when it is as fresh as possible because that helps the cultures survive longer.

You can read a cool Instructable about it by a scientist.

Waste wasn’t the only issue. Store-bought buttermilk has too many ingredients. When I say, “too many,” I mean unnecessary things that shouldn’t be in it. The easiest way to make your own buttermilk is to start with store-bought buttermilk for your cultures. That doesn’t entirely eliminate the extraneous ingredients, but it reduces them. Since you make each subsequent batch using some of the last batch you made, you will eventually get to the point where those ingredients are practically non-existent.

The alternative to using store-bought buttermilk is to use buttermilk starter. Then, again, you use your buttermilk moving forward. That would eliminate the extra ingredients entirely. I haven’t tried doing it that way. If you have tried both methods, let me know which one you like better and why.

Why Buttermilk?

I use buttermilk to make Ranch dressing and homemade sour cream on a regular basis. I will be posting an updated version of the sour cream recipe soon. Less frequently, I use it to soak chicken before cooking, make fried chicken, and in other recipes like homemade tortillas and other breads.

It’s also good for your skin. You can use it alone to clean your face or mix it with raw honey to make a nice mask.

Cultured vs Traditional Buttermilk

I don’t know about you, but I used to be confused about buttermilk. What I always knew of as buttermilk was the liquid that is left over from churning butter. That’s traditional buttermilk and totally different to what you can buy in stores today or what recipes call for.

Traditional buttermilk doesn’t have cultures, so it can’t be used to make more buttermilk or sour cream. It is not acidic like cultured buttermilk, so doesn’t have the same flavor or chemical effect when used in recipes.

What About Adding Lemon Juice to Regular Milk?

When you mention “making” buttermilk to most people, they think you’re talking about the old trick of adding lemon juice to regular milk when you don’t have or can’t find buttermilk for a recipe.

That will work for some recipes. It gives it the acidity and tangy flavor, so it will activate baking soda and generally achieve the flavor you want. But again, no cultures. It won’t make more buttermilk or sour cream. And, you get none of the health benefits of the live active cultures.

How to Make Buttermilk

This is insanely simple!Find a glass jar with a lid. Boil some water to sterilize the jar and lid. I just set them in the sink, pour the boiling water in them and dump it back out.

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Fill the jar with ¾ milk and ¼ buttermilk.

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Put the lid on tightly and shake it up to mix well.

Put it in a warm dark place. If you don’t have a dark place, cover it with a towel to protect it from the light.

Wait 12 to 24 hours.

Taste and refrigerate.

The end result should be thicker than the milk you used. It will turn into buttermilk faster in warmer temperatures, so keep that in mind when planning ahead. If you want to be sure it stays warm in a chilly house, you can put it in a cooler along with a jar of very hot water.

For the jar, I have started using freezer-safe canning jars. They are better for pouring and easier to clean than regular jars with a shoulder.I used to use Jars I had saved from Spaghetti sauce, but now I use those for fly-proof drinking glasses.

Have you tried making your own buttermilk? If so, tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

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Homemade Red Sauce

Homemade Red Sauce

I normally buy red sauce because it’s so quick and easy to make a yummy, filling meal of spaghetti and meat sauce with a good jarred sauce. But, I have started making homemade mozzarella and ricotta, and I am planning to use them in lasagna, so it just seemed like homemade red sauce was called for. If I’m feeling really energetic I’ll even make my own lasagna noodles.

This is the recipe for the basic red sauce, which goes well on perogies, tortellini, or as a dipping sauce for fried zucchini or bread sticks. It would work for pizza sauce, too. Of course, you can easily turn this into a meat sauce (instructions below).

Ingredients:

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer extra light tasting)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bulb roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces)

1 regular can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
4 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
¼ cup Shiraz (red wine)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt to taste

Directions:

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent. Add roasted garlic.

Place the whole canned tomatoes in a large bowl and squeeze to break into small pieces. Be careful when squeezing or you’ll quirt juice all over your kitchen.

 

Add the broken-up tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, Shiraz, bay leaf, garlic powder, onion powder, and brown sugar to the pot and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

 

Turning this into Meat Sauce:

 

If meat sauce is what you are really after, just brown about 1½ pounds of ground beef with your favorite seasonings (I use salt, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and a touch of oregano) and drain off the excess grease. Return the beef to the pan and season some more if needed. When the meat is good and flavorful, toss it into your red sauce, stir, and simmer for a few minutes. If you are not going to us it right away, you can skip that last simmer until you are warming the sauce to serve.

 

This goes great in lasagna, or on top of spaghetti.

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