All I wanted to do was make Rose Levy Bernbaum’s lovely pineapple upside down cake. She uses sour cream, you see. And after balking at the price of sour cream in a few gourmet food stores (since sour cream is not popular in India) I decided to make my own. Creamy with just the right amount of tart, and much healthier than the store-bought version — here’s how you can make your own sour cream!
Sure, sour cream has spread its creamy wings far and wide, but if you have been residing in India, you may have only tasted the flavour so far — I’m sure you’ve eaten sour cream and onion flavoured potato crisps (most brands have them). So, while you may not eat it as regularly as curds or yogurt (a staple in most Indian kitchens), it is definitely handy when your cake or cookie calls for sour cream — and its creamy, silky texture and tang make it a great dressing, dip, or a topping.
I need a piddly amount of sour cream once in a way when I bake, and I can’t keep stocking up on the ridiculously priced sour creams here as they go bad before I can use them next. Plus, manufacturers use stabilisers, emulsifiers, and what not to make the sour cream extra thick, sour, and last long. They even thicken milk artificially and add sour cream flavour — yes, only the flavour. So, homemade sour cream it is! Make it at home, and you’ll keep making it over and over!
All you will need is patience (it takes more than 12 hours to set, and it depends on the weather around you), a glass jar or ceramic mug, cream and a starter. 20% fat or half and half cream is fine; heavy cream gives you a much creamier and less sour version called crème fraîche. You can use heavy cream or whipping cream if that is what you have on hand — just add two tablespoons of whole milk to it. To get perfectly set sour cream every time, you will first have to heat the cream until it just starts to boil — turn off the heat as soon as you see the surface of the cream beginning to bubble — and allow it to cool before you introduce a starter. You will have to test it the way you would test milk you boiled for a baby — by dropping a few drops of cream on your wrist — it should feel neither warm nor cold, a little less than lukewarm. And when you leave it alone to set, ensure it is kept in a draught free space. Since the sour cream needs to breathe, cover the jar with some paper napkin and place a rubber band over it to secure it in place. I usually keep my jar in the oven. Don’t worry about it going bad at this time — the acid in the starter will protect against the bacteria.
Sure, the resulting sour cream won’t be as thick as the store bought ones but it definitely will taste so much better (duh!) and you’ll end up making it over and over and pairing it with anything you can find it your kitchen — from ganaches to dips! What’s more, its healthy too, what with all the good bacteria.
See you soon with the perfect pineapple upside down cake recipe (that uses this sour cream recipe in turn).
- Cream and Yogurt or Curds
You will need 1 cup cream and 1 tablespoon yogurt or thick curds (I prefer the probiotic kind —run it through a cheesecloth to get it thick). Take about a 1/4 cup of the cream and mix it well with the yogurt in a glass jar — use a whisk or fork. Add the remaining cream to this mixture and stir well. Place a paper napkin over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Keep it out overnight — about 15 hours, and then in the morning, cover it with a lid keep it in the fridge.
- Cream and Buttermilk
Add 1/4 cup buttermilk to 1 cup of cream in a jar. Mix it well, and place a paper napkin over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Let it sit out to set — about 15 hours, and then cover it with a lid and keep it in the fridge if not using right away.
- Cream and Sour Cream
Pour 1/4 cup of your leftover sour cream into 1 cup of buttermilk and mix well. Cover with a paper napkin and secure it with a rubber band and allow it to set for about 15 hours before you store it in the fridge.
Notes: I did not have buttermilk on hand and so I poured milk into the cream and then added 2 teaspoons lime juice — you can see that in the pictures. Once you place it in the fridge, the sour cream will continue to turn more sour as you’re only slowing down the fermentation by keeping it in the fridge. If the sour cream has not set in 12 hours, it probably need more time to set. Let it sit in a warm place, like in the oven for a few hours. When you try to pour it out, the sour cream in the bottle or jar must move as one mass— this is when you know it’s set. Every time you use sour cream, give it a good stir and then scoop it out. It should last in the fridge for about 10 days; discard it if you see it turning yellow or get a bad/mouldy smell. Store small amounts in 2-3 little container so you’re not tainting the sour cream every time you use some.
The Perfect Pineapple Upside Down Cake (not just spice)
Sour Cream (Wikipedia)
Sour Cream Recipe (NDTV FOOD)
How to Make Sour Cream From Scratch (the balance)
Homemade Sour Cream Recipe With Buttermilk (the spruce)