Homemade Sour Cream Recipe With Buttermilk

A baked potato with sour cream
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    5 min
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You can make your own homemade sour cream. This is a process that relies on the probiotic culture in buttermilk or sour cream, so you will need those as well as heavy cream for making it yourself. Plan ahead to give the sour cream 24 hours to thicken up, develop that tart flavor, and chill.

This is a good trick if you have cream on hand and you know you will need more sour cream the next day. You may find you prefer the flavor of your homemade sour cream and keep it going, making new from cream every few days.

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk

How to Make It

  1. Mix heavy cream and sour cream or buttermilk in a clean screw-top jar, cover it with the lid.
  2. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours until it is very thick.
  3. Chill the homemade sour cream well before using and keep it refrigerated.
  4. You may want to stir it before using. Some separation is normal and shouldn't be taken as a sign of concern

Buttermilk and sour cream contain lactic acid-producing probiotic bacteria. These are the friendly beasts that ferment the cream and give it the tart flavor while thickening it. They go to work at room temperature to convert plain cream into creme fraiche or sour cream.

You could start with light cream, half-and-half or whole milk instead of heavy cream, but the end result will be much thinner. It will still have a sour flavor, so if you plan on using it as an ingredient you might not mind that it isn't as thick. Just be sure to adjust the consistency of a recipe if you are doing so with a runnier sour cream.

The shelf life of opened commercially-made sour cream is seven to 10 days in the refrigerator. Your homemade version will probably be good for that long. Signs to look for that it should be discarded are a moldy or foul smell, mold growing on the surface, and turning yellow or other colors.

These problems occur when mold and bacteria are introduced to the sour cream other than the desired probiotic bacteria. These can come from your fingers, used spoons, or simply waft in from the air when it is uncovered. If you see these signs, don't use the remaining homemade sour cream as a starter for the next batch or you will simply multiply the problem.

Recipe Source: by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna (Doubleday) Reprinted with permission.