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Old 07-19-2006, 05:46 AM   #1
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Making sour cream

Just wanted to share with you all that it's actually a pathetically easy thing to make, should you need it for whatever reason and your local supermarket doesn't have it (the case for me and probably other ex-pats, depending on where you're living).

After 20 years of missing it and substituting strained Greek yogurt (a lovely thing, mind you) I realized I could make it, at least theoretically, so I tried.

Got ahold of some cultured buttermilk and some heavy cream. Put about a spoon of buttermilk in the cream and left it on the counter (covered ...) for about 48 hours.

Scrumptious.

Just found out that to improve it even more, consistency-wise, I could have taken that mixture and strained it (cheesecloth/over bowl) until the whey stops dripping.

Gonna try it!

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Old 07-19-2006, 06:01 AM   #2
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While this is certainly delicious and will do for sour cream, it would really technically be creme fraiche, I think, for anyone who needs to make that sort of thing.
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:10 AM   #3
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Hmmm, Gretchen -- this from "ochef":

"Crème fraîche and sour cream are both manufactured cream products. Crème fraîche is a slightly tangy, slightly nutty, thickened cream. Before the age of pasteurization crème fraîche made itself as the bacteria present in the cream fermented and thickened it naturally. It is widely available in Europe, but much less so in the US, where almost all cream is pasteurized, and therefore has to be fermented artificially.


Sour cream was also traditionally made by letting fresh cream sour naturally — the acids and bacteria present produced a generally consistent flavor and thick texture that went well with both sweet and savory dishes. These days, commercially produced sour cream is made by inoculating pasteurized light cream with bacteria cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick, and then repasteruizing it to stop the process.
Sour cream cannot be made at home with pasteurized cream; the lack of bacteria in the cream will cause the cream to spoil instead of sour. If you have access to unpasteruized heavy cream, you can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 2 cups of cream and let the mixture stand out at room temperature for several hours until curdled.


You can also make a facsimile of crème fraîche by adding a tablespoon of buttermilk (don’t tell us they don’t have buttermilk where you live!) or a half cup of sour cream to a cup of whipping cream, heating it gently to 110°F (45°C), then putting it in a loosely covered bottle in a warm place and letting it sit for anywhere from 8 hours to a couple of days, until thick. Store it in the refrigerator, where it will thicken further, and keep for about three weeks.
In general, crème fraîche and sour cream can be used interchangeably in most recipes, but crème fraîche has two advantages over sour cream: it can be whipped like whipping cream, and it will not curdle if boiled."

Sound mighty similar -- what is it that you feel makes "the" difference?

Meanwhile, while I would assume I HAD used pasteurized cream, it certainly DID sour as intended rather than spoil. So I'm still thinking sour cream's what I made. No?
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:16 AM   #4
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In southern half of Italy sour cream is not a wide spread item either, and I had a hard time finding them earlier. I have replaced it with a well blended mixture of greek style yogurt and heavy cooking cream before, though it was a bit runnier than regular sour cream the flavour was good enough to pass as a substitute.

I would try your method, Ayrton, but I am not sure if "buttermilk" is available here either, or if so what it is called... (I don't remember seeing anything that resembles it...)

However luckily we found a big supermarket who sells sour cream with reasonable price, so problem was solved for us... Cristiano never had tried it before I introduced it to him, now he is a big fan of sour cream!!
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:17 AM   #5
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There is not a thing in the world wrong with your product. Perhaps what I should have said is that your "recipe" is one I have often seen on US cooking boards as one to make "creme fraiche" when it is not available--as in many places in the US. And indeed this is exactly what your quote says--creme fraiche. Using the ultrapasteurized cream (which we mostly have in the US) just doesn't yield as tangy a product.
In places such as you seem to be where sour cream is not readily available, I have often seen creme fraiche suggested as a substitute. But the lucious Greek yogurt might even be preferable!!
And yes, in spite of the disclaimer about pasteurization or even ultra pasteurization, they both work to make creme fraiche.


"Meanwhile, while I would assume I HAD used pasteurized cream, it certainly DID sour as intended rather than spoil. So I'm still thinking sour cream's what I made. No?"
It soured/cultured because you added buttermilk.
The quote you give says "Sour cream cannot be made at home with pasteurized cream; the lack of bacteria in the cream will cause the cream to spoil instead of sour." I believe this refers to naturally souring cream without the addition of a "culture"--like you would have if you left cream out on the counter for a couple of days. You effectively added a culture to sour the cream.



Creme Fraiche Substitute For 1 cup, use 1/2 cup each of sour cream and whipping cream; or 1 cup whipping cream and 3 tablespoons buttermilk; cover and let stand 12 hours.
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:20 AM   #6
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I have to agree with Gretchen on this. At the restaurant I work at, we just started making an appetizer dish that needs Creme Fraiche. I'm the person that gets to make it. Once a week, I add a Tablespoon of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream, cover it with cheesecloth, and let it sit out for a couple of days. I started a new batch last night. The stuff I made last week turned out great; tangy, and thickened, while not quite as thick as sour cream. In fact, I had just this discussion last night with one of the other cooks, if I added more buttermilk to the cream, would it go ahead and set up as thick as the sour cream we get in.
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:31 AM   #7
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This is getting interesting!

Without quoting endlessly, a quick Google leaves me with the impression that the two -- creme fraiche and sour cream -- are virtually identical, perhaps with the exception of (1) consistency (creme fraiche is maybe thinner?) and (2) use, in that of the two, only creme fraiche can be used in a recipe that would require it to boil without it breaking.

Honestly? I'm unsure if I've tried creme fraiche or not. I believe that's what I bought on a whim one day in Carrefour and if so, I remember a very pleasantly-sour 'thang, but definitely thinner than sour cream as I knew it in the States.

Tell me please: if the difference IS consistency, wouldn't straining creme fraiche result in sour cream? This is the method for getting a standard Greek yogurt to what we call "strangisto" (literally: strained) which is the ultra-thick yummy thing Greeks eat for dessert...

Anyhow, know what I think? "a rose by any name smells as sweet"!!

Thanks for all the input!
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Old 07-19-2006, 11:07 AM   #8
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Yes, they are very nearly the same thing. The post that mentioned sour cream "breaking" and creme fraiche not, has a good point. Personally, I would use the Greek yogurt for sour cream.
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Old 07-19-2006, 11:29 AM   #9
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Hello Ayrton, thanks for this. I'd often wondered about it. Only problem is that I live in a land of no buttermilk, so first I'll have to start making butter. Time to start searching on DC and Google on whether I can make butter in a food processor...

Edited: notice I need cultured buttermilk, presumably for the bacteria. So even making butter isn't going to help. Well that saves a lot of effort...
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Old 07-19-2006, 11:49 AM   #10
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It wouldn't help you to make buttermilk/butter. The buttermilk we have is cultured--hence the way of making the creme fraiche with the "culture" in our buttermilk. You could probably do it using your style of yogurt which probably has a live culture in it.
OOOOPS, just noticed your last paragraph.

You don't need a food processor to make butter by the way--just whip cream until it turns to butter.
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