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Make it Yourself Monday: Sour Cream and Buttermilk, with Bonus recipes!

 I love sour cream- a taco or enchilada isn't complete without it.  But when I discovered Creme Fraiche, which is essentially thicker, creamier, tastier French sour cream, I was in love. 
It makes delicious sauces for meat, tastes great dolloped on oatmeal or berries, and of course tastes fantastic on Mexican dishes.  I use it in every way I used sour cream before, and so much more.  Another reason to make your own sour cream- many brands of store bought sour cream contain additives to assure consistency and texture, and I prefer the thick, additive free probiotic rich cream I make myself.

Buttermilk is... well, it's gross by itself (my opinion, not fact, some people drink it).  But it is an integral part of my kitchen now.  I grew up using milk soured with lemon juice in place of buttermilk in recipes.  However, on a whim I bought a quart of buttermilk to make pancakes with a few years ago and have never gone back.  The flavor and texture of baked goods made with buttermilk is far superior than those made with that sad substitute.  Plus buttermilk is an important ingredient in making the aforementioned creme fraiche.  But why buy buttermilk (at least more than once...) when it is super simple to make?

And by simple, I mean you will never buy sour cream again, even if you are the world's busiest person.

  • 1 quart whole raw or low temp pasteurized milk (or at least not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/4 cup good quality commercial buttermilk
In a quart mason jar or other similar sized vessel mix the milk and buttermilk.  Lid tightly and place in an out of the way spot and allow to culture at room temperature for around 24 hours.  After 24 hours the buttermilk should look thick and pull slightly away from the edge of the jar when it is tilted.  If it is still runny allow it to culture another 8 hours.  Once buttermilk is cultured store in the fridge- buttermilk keeps longer than regular milk, from 2-4 weeks.  Note the smell when you put it in the fridge so you know if it turns.  It should smell sour and tangy but not "off."  A small amount of separation is fine as long as the smell remains fine and there are no other off occurrences, such as growth.

Oh, and don't forget to reserve the last 1/4 cup of buttermilk to make the next batch!

Couldn't get easier, right?

Sour Cream/Creme Fraiche
  • 1 pint good quality raw or low temp pasteurized (or at least not ultra pasteurized) heavy cream
  • 2 T. cultured buttermilk OR previously cultured creme fraiche
In a pint jar mix the cream and buttermilk/sour cream.  Allow to culture for 24 hours at room temperature- it should  be very thick when it is finished.  If it is still runny after 24 hours allow to culture another 8 hours.  When finished the cream should smell slightly sour and cheesy.  Place in the refrigerator- as it chills it will thicken more and the flavor will continue to develop.  Creme fraiche will keep for several weeks in the fridge- I've never actually had a batch go bad, it just gets stronger tasting than I care for, so I make a new batch (and feed the leftovers to the animals...).

Again, remember to save the last 2 T. for your next batch.

BONUS!  Another one of my favorite things to do with both buttermilk and creme fraiche is salad dressing.  I couldn't decide which of these I like better, so I'm going to share them both.

Roasted Garlic and Buttermilk Dressing
  • 1 head of garlic
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 7 T. freshly grated good quality parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the top off the head of garlic to expose the cloves and place on a small piece of foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap the head of garlic tightly in the foil.  Roast until cloves are tender, about 45 minutes.  Open the foil and allow garlic to cool slightly.

When garlic is cooled enough to handle, remove the cloves from their skins- they should slide out easily.  Combine the roasted garlic with all the other ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.  If dressing is thicker than you like it, thin with more lemon juice/ACV.  Store in the fridge for up to a month.

Rich and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
  • 2.5 oz blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T. lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste 

In a small bowl mash the blue cheese and buttermilk together until it is combined and the blue cheese is broken down into small pieces.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients until well blended.  Store in the fridge for up to a month.

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