This is the first part of a series I’m calling “Fun with Dairy.” Part I: Sour Cream. I’ve discovered how to make sour cream, and I’m so enchanted with it, I have to share it with you. In addition, I’ve made yogurt and ricotta cheese at home for years, and while I’ve resisted blogging about it thus far because there are plenty of instructions for making these things already on the internet, I’ve come to realize that not all of them are good instructions. Sometimes those recipes are poorly written, and sometimes, there’s just a better way to do it, and sometimes, a combination of methods works better. So, in future posts, I’ll deal with making yogurt, the foolproof way I’ve been making it for years, and ricotta cheese, which I make for my roasted eggplant lasagna. There will be other “Fun with Dairy” posts in the future, but first, sour cream. And as a bonus, at the end of this post is a recipe you can make with your delicious homemade sour cream.
I love sour cream, smooth and tangy. I like to make veggie dips with it, and chip dips, and you cannot make stroganoff (see recipe below) without it. And surprisingly, sour cream is ridiculously easy to make.
You only need three things to make sour cream at home: a clean jar with a lid, some heavy (whipping) cream or half and half, and some buttermilk (cultured). Oh, and a place on the counter to let the cream culture for a day or so. Here’s how you do it.
Measure 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (or for lighter sour cream, less fat, 1 cup of half & half) into your clean jar. Add ¼ cup of cultured buttermilk. Put on the lid and tighten it. Shake vigorously to incorporate the buttermilk into the cream or half & half. Set the jar on your kitchen counter in plain sight where you won’t forget about it. Wait 18-24 hours. Open lid on jar. The cream should have thickened enough to sit up on a spoon. Taste it. If it isn’t sour enough, you can leave it a few more hours, no more than 36 hours altogether. Store in fridge.
Leftover buttermilk, which typically comes in quarts, can be portioned into smaller containers and frozen. You can also make buttermilk salad dressing, the original ranch, which will probably be the subject of another post. And if you add some cultured buttermilk to regular milk, you’ll get more buttermilk. You’ll never have to buy buttermilk again. More about that in another post.
After cooling in the fridge, the sour cream will thicken enough to actually mound on a spoon. The lighter version made with half & half is as thick, and actually tastes more like commercial sour cream, as that made with heavy cream, which is richer-tasting. Either version is good to use for a dip or anything else you’d use sour cream for (as a topping on burritos, nachos, or enchiladas, for example, or cheesecake). In the pictures below, the photo on the left is of sour cream made with heavy whipping cream (you can see that it is yellower in the jar) and the photos in middle and on right are of light sour cream made with half & half and previously frozen buttermilk.
Recently, I used my homemade sour cream in some stroganoff. Stroganoff is typically made with beef, but I used . . . yeah, you guessed it, bear. If you haven’t made stroganoff in a while, or if you’ve never made it, it’s time to give this old standard another look. But don’t make the imitation stuff with canned mushroom soup, please. I have no doubt homemade sour cream would improve the taste, but do use fresh mushrooms. This homemade sour cream (the heavy cream version) gave the sauce a rich, tangy flavor that the Mighty Bear Hunter and I really enjoyed.
Here’s an easy recipe made with an economy cut of beef: round steak. You can also use stew meat, you just have to cook it a little longer to get it tender. Can you use other red meats besides beef? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know the answer is yes! You can use venison, antelope, lamb, bison, elk, and, I imagine, moose (although that’s one meat I have yet to try.)
1 ½ lbs. round steak or stew meat, cut against the grain into 1/8 inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 ½ cups beef or roasted vegetable stock
2 tablespoons ketchup (or 2 tablespoons ground dried tomato skins)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (any small variety will do)
3 tablespoons flour (if you’re gluten-free like me, you can use brown rice flour)
1 cup sour cream
Heat oil or butter (or combination thereof) in 10 skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms and onions for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, reserve. Add another tablespoon of oil or butter if needed, brown meat strips, add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds. Don’t let the garlic burn! Add 1 cup stock, stirring to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, add the mushrooms and onions and their liquid, and the ketchup or dried tomato skin powder,and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover with tight-fitting lid, and simmer until meat is tender, 1-1 ½ hours.
When meat is tender, shake reserved stock with flour in a lidded jar until well-mixed, stir gradually into simmering meat mixture. Bring to boil, cook for one minute, then stir in sour cream, heat through but do not let it boil! Take off heat, serve over cooked, hot egg noodles (3-4 cups). Traditionally, hot egg noodles are tossed with a tablespoon of butter and sprinkled with 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (try chia seeds for more Omega-3 fatty acids) before serving. Makes about 6 servings.