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How to Make Sour Cream

Bowl of Sour Cream

Making sour cream at home is both easy and rewarding. It contains no additives, no fillers or thickeners, and there is no plastic tub to discard. But the best reward: your homemade sour cream contains probiotics and it tastes absolutely delicious!


On this Page: Sour Cream Ingredients | Choosing a Cream | Instructions for Making Sour Cream | How to Make Sour Cream Even Thicker | Instructions for Making Buttermilk Using a Sour Cream Starter Culture | How to Culture Cream Using Alternative Starter Cultures | Try These Homemade Sour Cream Recipes


Sour Cream Ingredients:



Choosing a Cream:

Different creams will produce sour cream with different thicknesses. Choose the one that works best for you.

    • Pasteurized 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. Learn more about using raw cream to make sour cream here!
    • Avoid ultra-pasteurized (UP) or ultra-high temperature (UHT) cream, as it yields inconsistent results when used for culturing sour cream.

Instructions for Making Sour Cream:

    1. Heat cream to 145°F and hold at that temperature for 45 minutes.
    2. Cool cream to 77ºF.
    3. Add starter culture and stir gently until powder is fully dissolved.
    4. Transfer to a glass jar; cover with a coffee filter or tight-weave cloth and secure with a rubber band.
    5. Place the jar in a warm spot, 74-77°F, to culture for 16-18 hours.
    6. Once the sour cream has set, place a tight lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator.
    7. Sour cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



How to Make Your Sour Cream Even Thicker:

    • 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. 


Did you know you can also use a sour cream starter culture to make buttermilk?



Instructions for Making Buttermilk Using a Sour Cream Starter Culture:

    1. Heat 1-4 quarts pasteurized milk to 185°F and hold for 30-60 minutes.
    2. Cool to 77°F.
    3. Add 1 packet starter culture; stir gently until fully dissolved.
    4. Transfer to a glass or plastic container. Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on it.
    5. Place in a warm spot, 74°-77°F, to culture for 16-18 hours.
    6. Once set, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate.



How to Culture Cream Using Alternative Starter Cultures:

While sour cream is made with a Sour Cream Starter Culture, there are other ways to culture cream, to make a similar product. When using a different culture, there may be variations in flavor. Try a few and pick the one you like best.

  • 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. Culture as you would buttermilk or yogurt, according to your particular starter's instructions.
  • 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. 



Try These Homemade Sour Cream Recipes



Back to: Learn to Make Buttermilk, Sour Cream, & Crème Fraîche Expert Advice



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