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Homemade Sour Cream Recipe

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Oh Lardy's Guide to Fermenting Fruits and Vegetables

I have been interested in fermenting foods for several years now.  However, culturing my own dairy always made me nervous.  I have no idea why, but I can have numerous jars going of kraut, dilly carrots, pickles, berries, chutney but I was timid to start to experiment with dairy.

Does the topic of fermenting baffle you?  We created a Fermenting eCourse just for you and when you sign up, we will send you a Quick Start Guide!  Grab the eCourse and the guide here!

Curious about why I would make my own cultured cream?  Check our previous posts on the benefits of adding fermented foods to your diet!

There are numerous ways to make cultured cream but if you have been following my fermentation posts here on Oh Lardy, you know I favor using powdered culture starter as my ‘inoculant.'  This is what I used but I will share some other methods too.

While I usually use raw (unpasteurized) cream in my house, I realize many people are not comfortable with raw dairy or do not have access to it in their state.  Luckily, I have a lovely farmer who keeps me stocked with delicious raw dairy!  But for those who use pasteurized dairy products, I wanted to try to make cultured cream with them as well.

And I had success!!!  Yay!

What's the Deal With Store Bought Sour Cream?

Of course you can buy sour cream at the store, but often times it is not ‘true' sour cream.  Even some labelled ‘cultured sour cream' are a combo of cream and nonfat milk (yuck) or full of fillers like guar gum, food starch and carageenan (double yuck).  What you want is plain old ‘cultured cream' in the ingredients. You might also sometimes see bacteria cultures like acidophilus or bifidus, types of beneficial bacteria.

At my local grocery store, I came across 3 brands of sour cream.  2 of the brands were even called Cultured Sour Cream…but not in the ingredients!  Of course, you should also be taking into account if the product is organic but at my usual grocery, there are few options, so I just looked at what was available.

Which would you buy?

Sour Cream Food Labels. Read carefully.

The one in the middle is a basic brand but if I had to, that's the one I'd go for. The one on the far left is a ‘higher end' brand in Chicagoland from a ‘local' dairy and even their products are loaded with fillers and additives!  So frustrating!  This is why it is so important to read ingredient labels and be sure you are getting exactly what you think you are getting!

Sour cream is so easy to make at home that once you start making it at home, you won't go back to store bought!!  No more navigating confusing labels!

Final Product of Homemade Sour Cream from Oh Lardy

Cultured Sour Cream


  • 1 pint heavy cream raw preferred but any cream will do
  • 1/2 packet of powdered culture starter


  • Bring cream close to room temperature by setting it out for a couple of hours.
  • Add the culture starter slowly, stirring as you add.
  • Give it a good final stir.
  • Put the lid on firmly.
  • Set at room temperature for 24-36 hours.


You can also use sour cream to culture cream. Simply spoon in about 1/4 cup sour cream into a pint to a quart of cream, stir and leave at room temperature 24-36 hours!
Using raw cream? Even easier. Just set the quart size jar at room temp (with lid on) and leave for 12-36 hours!
That is it!  The cream should be thicker after this time period and nicely soured.  Then you can put in the refrigerator to firm up for a day or two.  Will keep for up to a month.

*Now this is the method I used.  I have also read that you can use a 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, powdered sour cream starter or even 1/3 cup of previously made sour cream.  If you use your previously made sour cream, you can continue to make sour cream this way about 6 times.  Then you will need to start over.

I also read some places that pasteurized cream should be brought to a warm temp on the stove top (160) and then cooled to room temp.  I also read this was not necessary and the directions in my culture starter did not say to do this.

To have a successful ferment the jar needs to be kept at a nice room temperature.  Oftentimes, I notice my sour cream is a little slow but then I realize it is in a cooler spot in my kitchen. I usually put it on my counter under my cabinet lights.


Types of Cream

As I said, I tried 3 different types of cream.  The raw cream was the thickest by far, but if you are used to raw cream, you know it is thick even when it is not soured.

I was nervous about the ultra-pasteurized organic cream, as I had read that the ultra-pasteurization yields inconsistent results.  It worked out for me this time.  I really could not detect much of a difference between the organic cream and conventional cream based on taste or texture.

Ideally, if you are not using raw cream, you should try to find organic cream that is NOT ultra-pasteurized.  This is a difficult task.  I rarely see this type of cream.  Just use the best quality cream you can get.

Uses for Sour Cream

What do I use sour cream for you may be wondering?  There are so many uses in the kitchen…

  • Dollop on tacos, baked potatoes, Oh Lardy's green chili pork, soups, sloppy joes, fajitas, frittatas, scrambled eggs, stuffed peppers, chili, etc.
  • Make a dip by adding your favorite fresh herbs (sour cream and onion dip anyone?)
  • Whip into butter and buttermilk (post to follow soon!)
  • Whip into cultured whipped cream…just add a little real maple syrup and vanilla extract.  We do this a lot and dip strawberries into the cream.  Wowzers!  Talk about a nutrient dense dessert!
  • Make dressings like this ranch dressing recipe (when paired with homemade mayo!)
  • Add it to smoothies or oatmeal
  • Do you have any other uses for it??  I would love to hear.  Leave it in the comments below!

I hope you are going to give cultured sour cream a try.  It is a great way to add more probiotics to your diet!  Enjoy!

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How to Make Homemade Sour Cream - www.ohlardy.com


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  1. Great article – excellent information! I like to get back to basics whenever possible and I can’t wait to try out your recipe! Thank you. I found you on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  2. Thanks for this great recipe and the happy news that it can work with ultra pasteurized cream. Now on to my rant: I hate ultra pasteurization!!!! At the Made In NH expo I asked the rep at the dairy council booth about it and they said it is to protect the consumer. BS!!!! How is it protecting anyone when now milk and cream do no sour or separate to show when its no longer fresh but can sit in the fridge for months with no change. I have experimented. At least sour milk would be a useful product but this zombie milk? Blah. Even in the nearest health food store they only sell ultra-pasteurized milk products and when I question them about it they are also on the party line about safety for the consumer. Rant paused.

    1. I hate ultrapasteurization too! But I was glad to see it worked when I made it as for many people without a Whole Foods or Trader Joes nearby that is the only organic option! I have read the results can be ‘inconsistent’…so maybe I was lucky?

    2. Homogenization is the process that keeps the fat in the cream from separating from the water in the milk. Pasteurization only kills microbes. Both harmful, and beneficial.

  3. This looks great! We are looking into buying a cow share so we can have raw milk, yay! One question though, how much is in that powdered culture starter that you linked to? I guess what I’m asking is about how many uses do you get out of it?

    1. I used 1/2 a packet of the Body Ecology starter for pint of cream which is about 1 tsp. Each packet has 2 tsp. Since you can use existing sour cream to make more sour cream (just add 1/3 cup of sour cream to the cream) about 6 times…you could theoretically get 14 pints of sour cream per packet of starter. When I make 1 quart of sour cream, I use a whole packet.

    2. I was wondering this, too. So I have another question: How often do you have to make sour cream to keep it going? Because I am sure I could not go through a pint of sour cream every week (that’s how often I had to make yogurt to keep it going).

      1. I asked my group of ‘experts’ from my Certified Healing Foods Specialist class and everyone replied with the same answer. You can use ‘existing’ sour cream to make new sour cream as long as it ‘passes the nose test’…well over 1 week old. Give it a try and see! Good luck!!

  4. Hello! I found you from Party Wave Wednesday and I was so excited to see this because I just tried culturing cream for the first time this week and it was amazing! I used regular cream, because that’s what I had, and I cultured it with a little fresh homemade yogurt. It was creamy, thick and slightly tangy. What is the difference between creme fraiche and sour cream? What did I make? I guess I’m trying to figure out all of the differences. I used mine over fruit for our family desserts, and then stirred in the rest into some quiches I made. Wow! I’ll be making this again.

    1. So glad you liked cultured cream. It is so easy to make and so delicious. Served over fruit is a great idea! That’s a great question. When I have looked up how to make either, I get the same recipe, essentially. I have read that sour cream is more ‘sour’ than creme fraiche? I am not sure though!

  5. I buy pasteurized Organic heavy whipping cream from Trader Joe’s. It is the only place I have been able to find organic cream that isn’t ultra pasteurized. And it is great!

  6. I can’t be bothered buying a culture starter so I have been making my sour cream by culturing it with kefir. So so easy. Same process, instead of putting the kefir grains in milk, I put them in the cream, let it do it’s job then I strain out the kefir and keep for the next batch. Much more economical.

  7. thanks Kemmy! you answered my question! I’m excited to try this as I believe everything should be covered in sour cream! we use raw milk at home so now our sour cream will be raw too! hooray.

  8. I’m with Kemmy, I’m not going to buy another culture. I don’t use lots of sour cream so I buy my local pastured organic brand, which is to die for, or a national brand that is just cream and culture.

    My local pastured organic brand in Iowa is Kalona SuperNatural and it is available in the Chicago area. It’s produced by a mostly Amish farm collective in Southeast Iowa. You can look at their website to find stores that carry the brand.

    I don’t buy their fluid milk because there is a fluid milk producer that is only 20 miles from me rather than the 120+ that Kalona is, but we travel a great deal for work and Kalona SuperNatural is widely available in the states I travel at a couple large regional grocery chains. That makes it my best fluid milk option on the road.

    I don’t work for them but I am a big booster of these kinds of businesses and try to share info wherever I can.

    1. That’s great! I do buy Kalona at times, but only find it at one store by me…so if I am at that store, then that is what I get! I like their yogurt too!

      And, I always use the cultured starter for all of my ferments…veggies, fruits, sour cream, etc. so I have it on hand all the time. I like that it is useful for so many fermenting purposes not just sour cream. But you can make sour cream with numerous cultures, as I mention in the post…real buttermilk, previous sour cream to name 2. That is great that you have your local pastured brand!!!

      Thank you for stopping by!!

      1. I can see that a cultured starter wouldn’t add another item to your kitchen.

        I’m using anaerobic fermentation with only salt for veggies and kvass though I add whey and reduce the salt for fruits, a kombucha scoby I’ve had forever and start my yogurt from a previous batch without having problems with the culture weakening.

        May try the Kalona to start sour cream if I have some extra cream sometime.

        Thanks for such a useful post!

  9. I’m the opposite of you, I actually experimented with cultured dairy first, and I was scared to do vegetable and fruit ferments.

    It’s so ridiculous they put that extra crap in sour cream. It does absolutely nothing for it. When I buy sour cream, I get the one with no extras, and it actually has the best consistency, go figure.

    My main reason that I would want to make my own sour cream is the quality of the milk itself. I know the golden cream I get from my raw milk is richer in nutrients. Unpasteurized has its benefits, too.

  10. I think the culture that’s specifically for buttermilk at culturesforhealth.com can be perpetuated indefinitely. I am so excited to try this. I’m just going to have to wait on the powdered starter so it won’t get cooked in the mailbox :/

  11. It is actually easier for me to find a brand of sour cream that doesn’t contain additives than it is to find a brand of cream that doesn’t contain carageenen. Be sure to read the cream labels! Right now, the “organic” standard doesn’t prohibit the use of carageenen.

  12. Ok – this was tooooooo easy!! Just put it in the fridge and can’t wait for tacos tomorrow night!

  13. I get raw milk from my farmer… but he doesn’t offer plain cream. Can I do this with the milk itself? It does get pretty creamy at the top, but Im not sure its enough….

    1. Yes, you could use that cream from the top. You won’t get a whole lot but just put what you have in a smaller jar (I am thinking a small jelly jar) and add a bit of culture starter (the powder I link too, buttermilk or existing sour cream)! Good luck!

  14. I have made sour cream by putting kefir grains in whipping cream. Would that qualify as sour cream? It is yummy. Tangy because of the kefir, but I like it. What is in the culture you use for sour cream?

    1. Yes, that would be like sour cream. I link to the actual culture I use in the post. It is my favorite culture and the easiest for me since I also have it on hand for fermenting veggies and fruits!

  15. I add a glug of store bought buttermilk to my quart of fresh raw cream, give it a shake and set it on the heated floor overnight and the next morning I have beautiful creme’ fraiche (sour cream). I then refrigerate and use it for sweet as well as savory dishes that call for cream. Easy peasy.

  16. Can you tell me, does it taste like sour cream from the store. We drink raw milk and I tried making some. It did not have the culture starter in it. My family would not eat it because it tasted much different. Thanks!

  17. I make sour cream/creme fraiche by using: 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (all I can find is the ultra pasterized & it does fine) and 1-2 Tbsp. of buttermilk Put it a jar and shake well and let sit in a warm(this is important “warmth”) place for 12-24 hrs. I put mine out in my garage where it is warm (from Texas) and within 12-24 hours it is done, shaking/stirring on occasion. When thickened, stir and put into refrig. I was told that it lasts up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator…I don’t go through this very fast, so this is good. Also was told that this is better than store bought sour cream because it will not curdle like store-bought sour cream will if it gets too hot, such as in soups! I really like it better and I am not a big sour cream fan! You can also use frozen buttermilk (which I do), just defrost it, stir well, and add to whipping cream and shake well. http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/CremeFraiche.htm

  18. I just started reading about making your own sour cream. I have a source of raw milk (happy me) but my question is, from what I’ve read so far is that a starter culture isn’t necessary if your milk is raw, is this true? Most of the recipes I’ve read is place your jarred/slightly lidded raw cream on the counter and within a day or two you have sour cream.

  19. I’m still fairly new to the real food lifestyle (I hate to call it a diet!). I purchase raw milk but struggle to find uses for all of it. I typically drink it (mostly) skimmed and use the cream for other things. Am I understanding you correctly that I could use the buttermilk I get from making butter to culture my sour cream? Or does buttermilk need another step before it is cultured?

  20. I have Raw Jersey milk. The butter is a deep yellow full of vitamin D. It is so rich I have a problem with the sour cream being too rich. What do you think?

  21. Forgive me if this was previously in the comments…
    You can also use milk kefir grains. The cream will get so thick, it’s like ‘creme fraische’. It will be hard to find little grains in that thick wonderfulness, so if you have a couple plump, fat grains, that’s best. You can also whip the cultured cream into BUTTER! It’s incredible!

    1. There are 6 packets in the box. You can use them to make quarts and quarts and quarts of sour cream. And then you can use the sour cream you made as a starter. They last forever. You will get a lot of use out of it!!

  22. Why could you only make it 6 times from the same starter?
    That sounds completely made up to me, I have been using the same yogurt starter for ages, why should this be any different?

  23. I’ve never liked mayo and ever since I was a kid I’ve always substituted mayo for sour cream on my sandwiches .

  24. Yes, I have another use for sour cream. It’s called “eating it by the spoonful”! Haha

    So I’ve been using Wallaby brand cultured sour cream and I LOOOVE it (hence the spoonful thing). It is the only brand I can find that is truly cultured and doesn’t have other ingredients. I have a source for local raw cream and would really like to try to make it myself. I have used it to make regular sour cream before using just vinegar, and it was ok. But I really want the cultures. I have yogurt starter. Will that work? It’s not the same strains as used in the Wallaby brand. Do you think that will make a difference? The directions call for 1/8 tsp per two quarts of milk. That is what I have used for 24 hour SCD dairy yogurt. I use more for non dairy. If you don’t think the yogurt culture will work, do you think it’s ok to use the pasteurized Wallaby as a starter? Thanks in advance!

  25. Ha! I came here trying to find out if I could make my own sour cream using a store bought one as a starter – turns out I can. Thanks for a very thorough article – it was very useful, and no one else mentioned this. I especially appreciated the tip that you can continue to make a batch from an existing batch up to six times, powdered starter can go a very long way. Oh, and also that you can just culture it on the counter like kefir, instead of all the fiddliness of making yogurt!

    However, as much as I appreciated your article (which I did), I think I enjoyed reading all the spam comments even more. You seem to have collected some good ones! I especially liked the ones that nagged you while spamming! 🙂

    Thanks again.

    1. Yes the spam comments are quite funny! Our spam filter ‘broke’ for a period of time (unbeknownst to us) and they flooded in. Almost too many to delete so just kept some up. Happy sour cream making! 🙂

  26. Thank you for this easy and informative break down! Curious if you know approximately how long cultured sour cream lasts when made from raw milk/cream?

  27. Have you ever had issues with the cream becoming slightly lumpy or a not consistently smooth texture and having liquid collect at the top? I use raw heavy cream and set it on the counter covered for 24 or so hours, but the last two batches have gone wrong. Id love to learn more but having trouble finding the correct information online. Thank you!

  28. I LOVE Wallaby sour cream but it is no longer available anywhere that I can get it. Used to go an hour each way for 1 store that had it. I am so glad for this wonderful article & the wonderful comments. I will try using my kefir grains & local unhomogenized heavy cream & see how it tastes. I do have access to raw milk & will try using some of the cream from that.

  29. Just what I was looking for – instructions for how to make sour cream using store bought sour cream! Daisy is the only brand of sour cream available locally that doesn’t have extra ingredients, but it’s expensive and I’m on a tight budget right now and trying to stretch my grocery budget. I’m going to experiment with store bought half and half first (it’s getting old and I don’t want it to go to waste!), but I’m hoping to start getting raw milk from a local farmer soon.

  30. Hi,
    I have always wondered when room temperature is mentioned how much that is. I live in India and here we do not have weather controlled homes, so room temperature varies from place to place and season to season. So my question is, if I want to try this recipe what temperature should I be looking at?
    Thank you for such an interesting article. Will try and make a few things mentioned in the list of 32.

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