Making sour cream at home is a rewarding project. It's fresh, smooth, and delicious, whether made from pasteurized cream or raw cream. When using raw cream, there are special considerations, discussed below, followed by complete instructions for making raw sour cream.

Considerations When Making Raw Sour Cream

Bacteria Content

We recommend using only fresh cream to make sour cream. Raw cream comes with its own set of beneficial bacteria. If your cream is a few days old or wasn't chilled quickly enough, the bacterial count can be high. This means that the culture you introduce could have some hefty competition, which can lead to sour cream with an “off” flavor or cream that does not culture properly.


Raw cream may make sour cream that has a thinner consistency than that made with pasteurized cream. If the sour cream is a too thin, try culturing a little longer than usual, for a thicker final product.


Although most people who consume raw dairy do not feel that it is inherently dangerous, there are risks to everything and people have become ill from raw dairy. It is also possible to become ill from pasteurized dairy products. Talk to your farmer, research, and decide if these risks are worth it.

Choosing a Sour Cream Starter Culture

There are two options for starter cultures:

  1. 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.
  2. Cultured buttermilk is convenient to use as starter for culturing raw cream, as well. Use 1 tablespoon starter per cup of raw cream.


Instructions for Making Raw Sour Cream

  1. Remove raw cream from refrigerator. Please note that if raw cream is more than a few days old you will need to pasteurize it before using.
  2. Add starter culture. If using a freeze-dried culture, add 1 packet of culture to 1-4 quarts of raw cream. If using cultured buttermilk as the starter, use 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk per cup of raw cream.
  3. Stir gently until starter is fully incorporated.
  4. Culture the mixture at 74º-77º F for approximately 12-18 hours until set.
  5. Place a tight lid on the container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.


Try Using Raw Sour Cream in Recipes