Sometimes it seems difficult to find a quality sour cream at the local grocery store. Organic sour cream is rare in many parts of the country and even if you can find an organic option, often it has been ultra-pasteurized or has added stabilizers to thicken the product.
Thankfully, making sour cream at home is easy. To make sour cream you will need cream and a starter culture. While making sour cream takes only a few minutes of prep time, allow up to 24 hours for the sour cream to culture and cool prior to serving.
Choosing a Cream
The first step to making sour cream is choosing an appropriate cream. There are several factors to consider:
- Whipping cream will yield the thickest sour cream.
- Half-and-half can be used but the sour cream will have a thinner consistency than if whipping cream is used. Dry milk powder can be added to improve the consistency if desired.
- Raw cream can be used but will yield a thinner consistency than if pasteurized whipping cream is used.
- I have used low fat Amul fresh cream and store bought curd.
Use buttermilk, homemade or from the store. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk or yogurt per cup of cream, cover lightly and allow to culture for 12 to 18 hours in a warm spot (70° to 80°F). When the culturing process is complete, place the sour cream in the refrigerator to cool.
Once you’ve chosen your cream, mix the cream and starter culture together. Cover the container lightly to allow any gas created during the process to escape. A towel or loose lid both work well. Place the mixture in a warm spot (generally between 70° and 80°F works best) for 12 to 18 hours. The mixture should thicken and when tipped should not run up the sides of the jar, but rather pull away from the side of the jar.
Once the mixture has set, cover the jar with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for 6 or more hours to halt the culturing process and cool the sour cream. If a thicker sour cream is desired, a small amount of dry milk powder can be added before culturing. Alternatively, prior to mixing in the culture, the cream can be heated to 185°F and held at that temperature for 30 minutes. Be sure to allow the cream to cool completely prior to adding the starter culture. This heating process will generally yield a thicker sour cream.