Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Sour Cream

Technically this is a sort of "creme fraiche" as opposed to real sour cream, but it tastes great, couldn't be easier to make, and is a much healthier alternative to store bought sour cream. If you read the label on store bought sour cream you'll see that it says in the small print "Artificially soured." That means it's not really sour cream, just cream with some additives to give it that sour taste and a lot of thickeners to make it creamy. Once you start buying the low fat versions it gets even worse. Without the natural fat of the cream to make it thick you're looking at a lot of chemicals. No thanks! One final bonus? You can use a glass jar and avoid the plastic container leaching BPA into the food!
When I found this method for making my own and saw how easy it is and how well it works, I rejoiced. I haven't done a cost breakdown to see if this is a lot cheaper, but I'm pretty sure it is.
Method: Use a ratio of 1 cup of cream to 1 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk. You can pick which cream to use, I always use whipping cream (35%) because the higher fat makes a thicker and better tasting sour cream, but you can also use coffee cream (18%) or even cereal cream (10%), your sour cream just won't be as thick. Grab a clean glass jar, pour in your cream and buttermilk, stir to combine, put the lid on and let it sit totally undisturbed at room temperature for anywhere from 12-24 hours. I've found a lot of variation in this, it seems to depend a lot on how warm the house is etc., but you know it's done when you pick up the jar and the cream is almost solid looking in the jar. That is, you can tip the jar and it doesn't slosh. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up a bit more, then enjoy! It doesn't keep quite as long as the store bought stuff, but you can make a smaller quantity if you know you aren't going to need much.
I love having homemade sour cream in the fridge to top soups or Mexican food. We're having seafood chowder for dinner tonight - I might even stir a bit into that! The enzymes in the cultured cream help your body to digest your food more effectively. Plus it's delicious!
I used some of my sour cream yesterday to make a yummy after-church snack, some dip for baby carrots. It's sooo simple: about equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise (I make mine with olive oil so super good for you!) and some Mrs. Dash Original. Add a pinch of sea salt if you feel like it. What a yummy way to eat carrots, and in this case the dip actually helps your body to better digest the raw carrots, so you wind up with more nutritional benefit to your body than if you ate the carrots plain. Tastes better AND is better for me? Yes please!

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