Sour cream is an easy condiment to make at home. In fact the hands on time is less than 5 minutes and the rewards are a rich, creamy probiotic rich condiment that’s perfect for topping baked potatoes, or using as the base for a dip or sauce. In fact it’s so easy to make sour cream at home that I’m surprised anyone would still be buying it in the store.
How to make sour cream
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Fermentation time: 8 to 12 hours
A wide mouth quart mason jar with a lid
2 cups of organic, grass-fed heavy cream or half ‘n’ half
2 tablespoons of active culture plain yoghurt
½ teaspoon of mesophilic culture or 2 tablespoons of active cultured buttermilk, or 2 tablespoons milk kefir
Step by step directions
Yield: 2 cups
You can make sour cream at room temperature on the kitchen counter, but a better tasting and more active culture results from fermenting it overnight in a warm environment. This encourages the proliferation of both mesophilic and thermophilic lacto-bacteria, giving you more probiotics and more complex flavour for the same effort.
Here’s the easy way using the equipment you already have. With this method of making sour cream at home you don’t need any special equipment. I use my electric oven, with the light bulb turned on, to get just the right temperature to actively ferment the cream.
Step 1: Clean and sanitize both the jar, the lid, and any utensil that will come in contact with the cream.
Step 2: Pour the cream into the sanitized jar. Using a sanitized spoon, stir in ½ teaspoon of the powdered mesophilic culture or 2 tablespoons of the active cultured buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons of yoghurt OR omit the mesophilic culture and yoghurt and just add 2 tablespoons of kefir. (See the explanation below). Stir well. Put the lid on the jar.
Step 3: Create a warm environment to culture the sour cream, as you would if you were culturing yoghurt. I place a 2 quart glass measuring cup in the oven and put about 1 litre of hot tap water into it. Place the covered jar in this and put it in the oven on the middle rack. Turn the oven light on and close the door. The oven maintains a temperature around 95 to 115 F which is ideal for dairy ferments.
Step 4: Leave the sour cream to ferment overnight – 8 to 12 hours. As it ferments it will thicken and the flavour will improve.
Step 5: Refrigerate the finished sour cream.
Use this as you would store bought sour cream on baked potatoes, in stroganoff, as an accompaniment to potato pancakes, as a base for dips or sauces. Once you’ve tasted active, probiotic rich, creamy homemade sour cream, you’ll never enjoy the commercial product again.
A word about active cultures:
|Active cultures are living, thriving colonies of lacto-bacteria. While there are untold numbers of different lacto-bacteria available – each favouring a different growth medium, in dairy products two major forms of lacto-bacteria predominate – Mesophilic (used for buttermilk, cheddar, and other hard cheeses) and Thermophilic (used for yoghurt, mozzarella, Swiss, and parmesan cheese). Mesophilic lacto-bacteria include: Lactococcus lactis subsp cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp diacetylactis, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp mesenteroides. Thermophilic lacto-bacteria include: Streptococcus salivarius subsp thermophiles, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
These are the most common bacteria found in commercial cheese making and yoghurt making cultures. Mesophilic bacteria reproduce at room temperature around 70 to 78F, while thermophilic bacteria reproduce at temperatures between 105 and 110F. In order for both cultures to reproduce well in your sour cream culture you need to maintain the temperature in the 100 to 110 range so that both cultures can actively populate your cream. Using both cultures gives your cultured sour cream a more complex flavour.
|If that seems too complicated and you have access to kefir with active lacto-bacteria in it feel free to use that instead. Kefir contains both mesophilic and thermophilic lacto-bacteria. If you are using kefir you do not need yoghurt, buttermilk, or mesophilic cultures.
For more posts on home dairying check out these from the archive:
Making ricotta cheese