How to Make Sour Cream


Making sour cream at home is easy, you will need only cream and a starter culture. While making sour cream takes only a few minutes of prep time, allow a full 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 for the project.

  • Heavy cream or whipping cream will yield the thickest sour cream.
  • Half-and-half can be used, but the sour cream will have a thinner consistency. 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.
  • Avoid ultra-pasteurized (UP) or ultra-high temperature (UHT) cream, as it yields inconsistent results when used for culturing.


Choosing a Starter Culture

There are a few options for starter cultures:
  • Direct-set sour cream starter culture. The advantage of a direct-set culture is that the powdered starter is kept in the freezer until you are ready to make sour cream. 
  • Cultured buttermilk or mesophilic (countertop) yogurt is convenient to use as starter for culturing cream, as well. Use 1 tablespoon yogurt or buttermilk per cup of cream.
  • Milk kefir grains or finished milk kefir can be used to make Kefir Cream, a good substitute for sour cream. Use 1 tablespoon finished milk kefir per cup of cream or 1 teaspoon grains for up to 4 cups cream.


Making Sour Cream

  1. To use a direct-set sour cream starter culture, follow the instructions inlcuded with the culture, for best results. 
  2. To use cultured buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir, mix the cream and starter culture together.
  3. Cover the container with a coffee filter or cloth, secured with a rubber band. 
  4. Place the mixture in a warm spot, 70°-77°F, for 12-18 hours or until thickened.
  5. Once the mixture has set, cover the jar with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to halt the culturing process and cool the sour cream.

For thicker sour cream

  • Add a small amount of dry milk powder or
  • Heat the cream to 180°F and hold at that temperature for 30 minutes.  Cool completely prior to adding the starter culture. 


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