How to Make Sour Cream

How to Make Sour Cream with Raw Milk.

I’ve been milking a cow for years.  I’ve actually milked several cows.

I have gone places in my kitchen no home cook has ever gone in their life.  

It’s kind of cool and kind of insane.

I often look around my kitchen as I make things like: butter, cheese and ice cream, and think to myself how easy it would be to just go to the store and buy it. It’s right up the road.  At the store.  In cute little packages.  AND it’s pretty darn cheap considering how many hours of my life I spend making this stuff from scratch.


Mine is not processed.

It’s not homogenized.

It’s not pasteurized.

It’s raw.

It’s grass-fed.

It’s hormone free.

It’s antibiotic free.

It’s fresh.

And, I made it.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention the taste…


This is where home dairying gets adventurous.  

Have you ever had cultured butter?  Ask your grandmother – she probably has.  Thanks to the cow in my front yard my entire family eats ‘cultured’ butter regularly.  Not because we prefer it, because life creates it.

First, let me tell you what “cultured” butter is.

The butter you buy at the grocery store is “sweet cream” butter.  It is made from relatively fresh cream.  It’s creamy and buttery and that’s about it.

Cultured butter is butter made from cream that has been allowed to develop more bacteria (the good kind).  It’s alive and filled with probiotics and it’s super good for you.  In order to “culture” butter one can let the cream sit in the fridge or on the counter.  The counter top method will cause the cream to culture faster because of the warmer temperatures.  The fridge method will happen whether you want it to or not.

I have this thing about quantity.

If I am going to stand in my kitchen and make something (butter, ice cream, lasagna) I am going to make 2 tons of it and freeze it so I don’t have to do it again any time soon.

When it comes to butter, in order to make a decent amount of butter I need a massive quantity of cream.  I usually get 1 pound of butter from 1/2 gallon of cream.

So, I milk my cow each day.  I skim off the thick, rich cream each day.  I collect, store and collect some more until I have enough cream to make a few pounds of butter.  Making 1 pound or making 4 pounds is not that different in my kitchen, so I ‘d rather make 4.  Ya Know?

By the time I have enough cream collected to make my butter adventures worthwhile, a portion of the butter has been marinating culturing in the refrigerator for quite some time…. this butter is going to be seriously cultured.

Cultured butter has tang.  It has zest.  It has personality.  It’s kind of sour, kind of off-flavored, kind of …… fishy.

My kids call it “fish-butter.”

“Mom, is the butter fishy?”

“Mom, is this fish butter?”

“Mom, the whole kitchen smells like fish.”

Oh, and the day I posted a picture of our butter-making extravaganza on Facebook someone commented, “Your kitchen must smell wonderful.”

No.  It smells like fish.

On butter days, if the butter is cultured…. it’s Long John Silvers at my place.

We have 2 kinds of butter at my house:

  • Sweet butter
  • Fish butter

Whenever I make butter half of it will be fish and the other half will be sweet cream.  I usually mark the packages of butter with a “S” or a “F” so the kids will know which is which.  If they want butter to spread on their toast they grab the “S” butter.  Who would want fish butter on toast?   If they are making dinner or baking they go with the “F,” it has more flavor.

If my kids don’t want cultured butter and it makes my house smell like tuna, why oh why do I make cultured butter?

  1. Because I’m not making butter until I have 2 gallons of cream.
  2. Because it tastes better when you cook with it.
  3. Because it’s better for you.
  4. Because I don’t have time to make butter every week.  I usually make it every other week.  This means I have some cream that is 2+ weeks old before it ever gets churned…. which means it’s very healthy & very fishy.

I wonder how someone even came up with the term “cultured butter.”  It’s really just butter that’s made with soured cream.  Seems like it should be called, “sour butter.”  Or “fish butter” if you want to get real.

If you came here today to learn how to make sour cream, I’m sorry.  I’m getting to that.

Sour Cream

Homemade sour cream is not going to taste like store bought sour cream.

Not At All.

Once you get your brain around that and make the decision to cut out all processed foods.  You open the door to new flavors.

I’ve decided that homemade sour cream is probably what sour cream is supposed to taste like.  The stuff from the store is the weird, terrible stuff.  BUT we are Americans and have been fed processed, chemically-enhanced foods for our entire lives.  We think the store bought sour cream tastes like what sour cream is supposed to taste like.

Hmmmmm.  Deep thoughts.

Even though homemade, sour cream does not taste like the stuff from the store – I’ll be honest…


…and it doesn’t taste like fish.  

It is rich, creamy, buttery and you will want to plop a heap of it on top of some sort of chocolate fudge cake.  Or maybe scoop some into a bowl and top with fresh berries & granola.

It’s like yogurt.  Creamy, rich, velvety, fabulous yogurt.

So good.

The best part about making fresh, sour cream from raw milk is not the taste.

Reasons to make Fresh Raw Sour Cream:

  1. It tastes amazing
  2. It takes 2 minutes
  3. It’s better for you (loaded with nutrition and natural probiotics)

All you do is add 3 tablespoons of a starter to fresh cream, stir & wait.

That’s it.

Here’s my favorite way to make sour cream:

Add 1 cup of your fresh, raw cream to a bowl.

Bonus Cream Lesson:  With fresh, cow’s milk, the cream always rises to the top.  What some folks don’t know is that there is even more to that separation than meets the eye.  Inside that cream line there are 2 types of cream.  The stuff that is sitting on the very top is unbelievably thick (especially if it’s Jersey milk).  You could eat it with a fork.  Under the solid layer of cream there is a more liquid-y version – but it is still cream.  When I make sour cream I try to use lots of the thick stuff off the very top.  Mmmmm. 

Add 3 tablespoons of starter to the cup of cream.  You can use yogurt, sour cream or milk kefir.

If you prefer, you can also purchase and use a packaged starter to make your sour cream.  The packaged culture will require you to do things like heat your cream to 100 degrees and other annoyingly, precise details that I have no time for or desire to deal with.

I’m just gonna stir in some sour cream & be done.

I am adding store bought sour cream to make mine.  You could use a couple of tablespoons of sour cream from your last batch of raw sour cream (if you have any left).  If not, you can go to the store.

Whisk the starter sour cream into your fresh cream.

Cover and let sit on your kitchen counter for 24 hours.  Then transfer to the refrigerator until the next day.

When you take it out of the fridge, that liquid-y, yellow-colored mixture will have completely transformed….

into this:

Thick, rich, creamy, perfect, sour cream.

The sour cream will continue to sour each day as it hangs out in the refrigerator.

The Raw Sour Cream Life Cycle: 

Days 1-2

After spending the night in the refrigerator it is going to taste like creme fraiche and your world will be a better place.  You should put this on your apple tart, your chocolate cake, your coffee and under your granola.

Days 3-5

About day 3-5 it sours just enough to top your baked potato, cheesy potato casserole or chicken enchiladas.  This will be more like the sour cream you are accustomed to eating.

Days 7 & Beyond

On day 7 it will taste like a cow.  Give it to the chickens.


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How to Make Sour Cream
Homemade, creamy, rich, raw, sour cream. This sour cream is smooth and velvety and delicious. Made with only 2 ingredients & full of nutrients and natural probiotics.
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Cuisine sauces and dips
Recipe Notes

Whisk 1 cup fresh, raw cream and 3 tablespoons of starter together.  For your starter you can use sour cream, yogurt or milk kefir.

I prefer to use sour cream as my starter. You can use a couple of tablespoons of sour cream from your last batch (if you have any left).  If not, store bought works great.

Cover and let sit on your kitchen counter for 24 hours.  Then transfer to the refrigerator.

The sour cream will continue to sour each day as it hangs out in the refrigerator.  The first 2 days it is going to taste like creme fraiche- delicious.  About day 3-5 it sours perfectly and will remind you of the sour cream you are accustomed to eating.  On day 7 it will taste like a cow.  Give it to the chickens.


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