3 Step Sour Cream

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3 Step Sour Cream l Make your own sour cream l Easy kitchen quick tip l Homestead Lady (.com)Here’s another kitchen quick tip – make your own 3 step sour cream.


This is probably the easiest dairy ferment ever so plan to never buy sour cream again.

Whenever I write about dairy you can assume I mean raw dairy.  Especially for cultured dairy products like sour cream, raw dairy is easier to use. However, this will work with pasteurized cream – it may just take a few more hours.

Kitchen Quick Tip l Kitchen Hacks

3 Step Sour Cream

You don’t even need to write this down – just go right into your kitchen and do it.

  1. Fill a quart mason jar with room temperature or slightly heated (under 100 degrees), raw or pasteurized cream.  I prefer cream, but you can also use buttermilk (live active culture) for this; if you do, you can omit step two.
  2. Stir in a generous spoonful of previously made sour cream, kefir or even kefir grains (strain these out after step 3 is complete).  This will be your starter culture, which simply kick-starts your sour cream and gives it flavor.  
  3. Add a loose fitting lid and let the cream sit on your counter for twenty four to forty eight hours.  The longer it sits, the more cultured, and therefore more flavorful, it will be.  The cream will thicken as it cultures.  For the first twenty four hours, this cream is more correctly called crème fraiche and is still slightly sweet.  It becomes tart as it cultures longer, becoming more like the American version of sour cream.  David Asher explains in his book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking,

Crème fraiche (pronounced krem fresh–French for “fresh cream”) is lightly fermented, thickened cream.  By adding culture to full-fat cream, then allowing that cream to ferment, the cream slowly becomes acidic.  Once it passes a certain acidity, the cream suddenly thickens into crème fraiche.  If left to ferment longer, the thickened cream continues to sour and eventually becomes what North Americans know as sour cream.”

That’s it.  Yeah, I’m serious.

A Few More Sour Cream Tips

Here are a few more pointers:

  1. Raw cream has its own bacterial set and will culture, usually, quicker than pasteurized cream.  In fact, to make “cultured cream”, all you need to do is leave plain cream (no starter) on your counter until it clabbers, or thickens.
  2. Pasteurized dairy should always be handle with care because it will spoil, instead of culture like raw dairy.  Just be sure to mix your starter culture into your cream well (step 2) and it will turn out splendidly.
  3. To hurry along the culturing process, you can warm the cream slightly in a pan before culturing – no more than 90 degrees is necessary.  You can also place your sour cream in your Excalibur dehydrator on its lowest setting for culturing.  I usually put mine into my Wonder Ovens with my homemade yogurt jars to incubate where the cream stays slightly warm without my having to heat it separately.
  4. When using raw cream, you may notice fluctuations in results during the year.  In the late winter, for example, I often notice a thinning in the cream and a slightly sour flavor as winter hay runs low and the cows are yearning for the fat, verdant pastures of spring.  The way I counteract those less appealing results is to add a little extra culture to the batch and be sure to strain it after it has incubated.  It’s all good.
  5. The end product is slightly softer than store bought sour cream.  To thicken it, you can strain it through some cheese cloth for a few hours.
  6. Strain  this product overnight for a  delightful, sweet cream cheese.  But that’s a story for another time…
  7. Always use clean containers, lids, and utensils.

More Do It Yourself Dairy

3 Step sour cream is brought to you today in part from the awesomest dairy ferment book ever, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (page 97), although Mr. Asher shows you how to do a myriad more of cool things with cream.  My favorite thing about this book is that he explains how to make cheeses and cultured dairy products without the use of commercial cultures – he even shows you how to make your own rennet!  

Read a review of this book here

Purchase it here:

For some more easy dairy ferments, check out the following:

Homemade Feta Cheese – don’t be intimidated by the word “cheese”.  This is so, so easy.

Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment can teach you how to make Yogurt (never buy this again because it’s simple to make) and Milk Kefir Cheese (you will need kefir grains for this but you can get those below, along with other things you might need).

To learn more about what you can do with Wonder Oven, please visit Megan at My Food Storage Cookbook – in fact, she just came out with a cookbook for Wonder Ovens.

Have you ever made your own dairy products?  Have a favorite?

Thanks for joining us for this latest Kitchen Quick Tip.

Would you like more tips for the homestead kitchen?  Then I have the book for you!  Sign up for our Book Circle and be the first to know when The Do It Yourself Homestead is released and be privy to special offers, discounts and information.  The kitchen isn’t the only homestead topic we cover – this book has it all from gardening to green living to family life on the homestead!

DisclaimerInformation offered on the Homestead Lady website is for educational purposes only. Read my full disclaimer HERE.

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2 thoughts on “3 Step Sour Cream

  1. So let me get this straight.
    #1- I can buy buttermilk from the store
    #2- put it into a mason jar with the lid fitted loosely
    #3- let it sit for 48 hours
    #4-then it is sour cream
    #5- strain it to thicken it
    PLEASE tell me if I am correct because we love sour cream.

    1. The short answer is, yes! Each batch of buttermilk, especially once it’s been pasteurized, will beAhave differently – brand to brand is going to be different. Also, buttermilk isn’t quite as thick as cream. Those are my two cautions but, yes, it will clabber and you will get a sour creamy product. When we start making our own dairy products, we need to be prepared for them to be different from store bought just because we don’t usually include all the additives they do to thicken and even color the product. So, you may need to fiddle around with your buttermilk and your process until you hit something you like best.

      As I said, I prefer cream because of the end result but that’s totally relative. If you aren’t satisfied with just buttermilk, maybe try a mixture of both. Or, use mostly cream and just a few tablespoons of buttermilk to culture the cream. Or stand on your head while it cultures or sing it a song. 🙂 The point is, dairy ferments are varied, tasty and easy to experiment with at home.

      One last caution, watch it as it cultures because if the ambient temperature is really warm, it can move past souring and thickening to soft cheese. Which is NOT bad, it will just have a different texture than sour cream. If that happens, mix it with herbs and salt and spread it on baked potatoes. See, not bad at all.

      Let me know if you have questions or problems! Thanks for stopping by!

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