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Sour cream has a lot of uses ranging from being a topping for your favorite taco or salad to making your savory dish creamier. But what if you opened your fridge and sour cream is nowhere to be found? Worry not, we will provide a wide range of choices that you can use as a sour cream substitute. So carry on reading and start listing!
What is Sour Cream?
Sour cream is the end product of fermenting regular cream with certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria. This bacterial culture makes the cream sour and creamier. According to the Food and Drug Administration, sour cream should have a butterfat content that is not lower than 18%.
There are three varieties of sour cream that you can buy from stores. These are:
- Regular sour cream: Ranin, gelatin, guar gum, and lactic acid are used to make this variety with 12 to 16% butterfat content.
- Reduced-fat sour cream: A combination of milk and cream, this variety contains 40% less fat than regular sour cream.
- Non-fat sour cream: Carrageen and cornstarch are added to the cream to preserve this variety.
What’s in a Cup?
For the nutritional value, a cup of sour cream contains:
- 170 Calories
- 185.38 grams of Water
- 7.13 grams of Protein
- 35.88 grams of Carbohydrate
- 0.9 grams of Sugars
- 31.14% of Phosphorus
- 28.80% of Calcium
- 28.75% of Vitamin B12
- 26.54% of Vitamin B2
- 24% of Vitamin A
- 22.18% of Selenium
- 21.60% of Sodium
- 10.45% of Zinc.
History of Sour Cream
Sour cream can be traced back to an alcoholic drink made from a mare’s milk called kumis. Mongols developed this drink to preserve the milk longer because they travel long distances in the hot climate. The formation of kumis happens after the bacteria, Streptococcus lactis and Leuconostoc citrovorum are added. This process also thickens the milk. The milk becomes alcoholic once it reached its second fermentation stage.
Because the Mongols took kumis with them, a lot of people became familiar with the fermented dairy product. The Russians are said to be the ones who decided to make kumis from cows and to let the milk thicken for longer instead of turning it alcoholic.
The slightly sour tasting, creamy thickened milk then spread across Europe.
How is Sour Cream Made?
The traditional way of making sour cream is by skimming off the top of the milk and letting the cream that was gathered ferment at moderate temperature.
Another way to make sour cream is by using acid-producing bacterial culture that is added in a pasteurized cream to give it the sour taste that we love.
Commercial sour cream may also contain rennet, a liquid extracted from the abomasum of young ruminants that contains chymosin which is responsible for curdling the casein in milk. Commercial sour cream can also include other emulsifying and thickening agents such as algin, gelatin, and pectin. These are just some of the examples of other ingredients that you can find in a commercial sour cream.
Nowadays, we can also buy reduced-fat sour cream which contains less butterfat; contains about 10.5% butterfat compared to its regular counterpart. That is because it is made from a mixture of milk and cream, and not just cream. Fat-free sour cream is also available, and it is fat-free because it is made from fat-free milk.
Sour Cream Uses in Cooking
Sour cream has a lot of uses in cooking, not just a baked potato topping. People have been garnishing dishes like potato chips, chili, and even fruit and vegetable platters with sour cream.
This crowd-pleasing dairy product is also a known ingredient to Mexican cuisine. From nachos, burritos, to guacamole, you name it!
Got Leftover Sour Cream? Try These:
- Use sour cream in place of mayonnaise in your deviled eggs.
- Divide (or replace) the amount of mayonnaise in your potato salad and pasta and use sour cream instead.
- Ranch and sour cream is a perfect combo for your chip dip.
- Make your own dressing using French onion dressing and leftover sour cream.
- Got leftover meats? They’d pair well with sour cream for a quick no-fuss sandwich.
- Want your scrambled egg a bit creamier? Your leftover sour cream can do the trick.
These are just some of our suggestions so that you can make use of your leftover sour cream. You can always experiment with a lot of recipes so that no sour cream can ever go to waste. And remember to consume sour cream three to four days after opening.
We also found out that you can buy sour cream powder online; this is a perfect choice for people who don’t want to make large batches of sour cream.
Sour Cream Uses in Baking
Sour cream is also popular in baking. Did you know that sour cream can add better moisture in most baked recipes than milk? Sour cream contains acids that tenderize the gluten in baked goods making them tender and not dry.
The creamy texture of sour cream is an excellent choice for pastries like sponge cake to make sure you end up with a moist slice. Sour cream can also give you more tender and flavorful cakes and muffins.
If you have some leftover sour cream in the fridge, you can fold a couple of spoonfuls of it into your favorite biscuit recipe to yield a nice flaky texture. Another nice trick you can do is adding sour cream in a mousse to give it a nice tangy flavor to balance off the sweetness.
Can I Substitute for Sour Cream in Baking?
Baking with sour cream is indeed a nice trick to use, but you can use several ingredients as your sour cream replacement if you do not have any sour cream available. An example is kefir cream, ideal as a sour cream replacement not just in baking, but will also work for dressings and pancakes.
Ingredients That You Can Use as Sour Cream Substitute
Surprisingly, you can use many of ingredients as your sour cream alternative.
Popularly used in India and Pakistan, buttermilk’s tangy taste makes it a good option as a sour cream alternative.
During the process of butter making, milk is left out to rest for a while. Once the milk and cream separate, the thick cream on top was collected to make the butter. The liquid leftover was used to make the buttermilk, butter-milk get it? Naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria will then ferment the milk sugars during the resting period to make the leftover milk tangy forming the final product, buttermilk. Your commercial buttermilk is pasteurized just like sour cream, and after heating, bacteria is added.
However, if you’re using buttermilk as a sour cream dip alternative, a cup of cottage cheese blended with ¼ cup of buttermilk can help you achieve your desired dip consistency.
You can also make your own buttermilk at home by adding a tablespoon of lemon to a cup of whole milk. Let this mixture rest for five to ten minutes.
Amount: Use the same amount of buttermilk with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used as for: baking, dressings, and dips.
Advantage over sour cream: lower fat content
Shelf-life: 2 to 3 weeks
Cottage cheese is a mild-tasting, soft and creamy dairy product making it a good candidate as a sour cream substitute. The curds that are left in the milk after the cheesemaking process constitute a cottage cheese.
To use it as a sour cream alternative, blend a cup of cottage cheese with a tablespoon of lemon juice and skim milk that are about two tablespoons. If skim milk is unavailable, you can dissolve milk powder in cold water as an alternative. Note that a large curd cottage cheese should be blended longer to achieve a smooth texture.
Another way to use cottage cheese as a sour cream alternative is mixing a cup of drained cottage cheese, four tablespoons of buttermilk or low-fat milk and two teaspoons of lemon juice. For a low-fat version, you can combine a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and two tablespoons skim milk in a blender or a food processor.
Check the texture of your cottage cheese while blending because a clumpy mixture does not match to sour cream’s smooth texture.
Amount: Use the same amount of cottage cheese mixture with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used for: dips and dressings
Advantage over sour cream: It is lower in calories and fat but is high in protein
Shelf-life: 7 to 10 days
Cream cheese is creamy, soft, and tangy making it at par with the taste of sour cream. Just make sure to blend them smoothly.
You can blend six ounces of cream cheese and three tablespoons of milk using a blender to make a sour cream dip substitute.
Amount: Use the same amount of cream cheese mixture with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used for: dips and dressings
Advantage over sour cream: thicker texture but higher fat content
Shelf-life: 2 to 4 weeks
Creme fraiche literally means “fresh cream.” It is produced by adding bacterial culture to heavy cream. It has thick cheese-like consistency and is less tangy compared to sour cream.
This dairy product is has a high-fat content, so you don’t have to worry about the cream separating. This reason makes creme fraiche ideal as a sour cream substitute for soups.
Amount: Use the same amount of creme fraiche with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used for: sauces, soups, fresh fruits, bisque
Advantage over sour cream: has higher amount of fats and calorie which makes it ideal for those in a ketogenic diet
Shelf-life: 8 weeks
Evaporated milk is sometimes called “unsweetened condensed milk.” Evaporation removes its liquid content.
One cup of evaporated milk combined with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice will make it a good substitute for sour cream in sauces. Let the mixture stand for five minutes for it to thicken. You can extend it to twenty minutes as well.
You can also mix a can of chilled evaporated milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice as a low-fat alternative for sour cream.
Amount: Use the same amount of evaporated milk with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used for: sauces
Advantage over sour cream: lower in fat content
Shelf-life: 4 to 6 days
What makes Greek yogurt different from a regular yogurt is that a large portion of its whey is removed. Because of this, Greek yogurt is thicker and tangier than regular yogurt.
Amount: Use the same amount of Greek yogurt with the amount of sour cream that you are replacing.
Can be used for: dips, dressings, toppings
Advantage over sour cream: low in calories and fat, high in protein
Shelf-life: 1 to 2 weeks
We mentioned Greek yogurt, but plain low-fat yogurt is also a good sour cream replacement.
If you want to thicken your yogurt, drain it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl in your refrigerator for at least thirty minutes. But remember to stir the yogurt first because it has a tends to separate.
Be careful when using yogurt as a sour cream substitute for soups because it could curdle when simmered due to having less fat. However, you may add a tablespoon of flour mixed in two teaspoons of water to a cup of yogurt for cooked recipes.
Amount: Use a cup of yogurt mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of sour cream you’re replacing. For a dip, you can substitute a cup of drained yogurt for a cup of sour cream.
Can be used for: baked potato
Advantage over sour cream: More protein, less fat content
Shelf-life: 1 to 2 weeks
More Sour Cream Substitute Options
- A cup of heavy whipping cream mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice with a cup of heavy whipping cream
- A cup of heavy cream combined with a cup each of yogurt and mayonnaise
- ⅔ cup of milk powder mixed with ¾ cup of water plus a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar can substitute for a cup of sour cream
If You Want a Low-Fat Substitute…
You can make a low-fat substitute at home by combining a cup of milk and four teaspoons of buttermilk powder in a saucepan. Add half a cup of unflavored gelatin over low heat until it dissolves. You can then add half a cup of yogurt after removing it from the heat. Chill this mixture in the fridge for an hour until you achieve your desired thickness. You can store this low-fat sour cream substitute for up to five days.
Vegan Options: Vegan Substitute for Sour Cream
Vegans have chosen to exclude all of animal products from their diets, and of course, that includes dairy products. There are also people who are on a vegan diet because of health reasons, animal welfare concerns, or environmental concerns. But even in a vegan diet, you can still indulge by having these vegan substitutes for sour cream options.
If you want a dairy-free substitute…
You can blend a cup of water, half a cup of sunflower seeds, half a cup of pine nuts, ⅓ cup of lemon juice, a clove of garlic, one teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of onion powder in a food processor for a minute or two in the high speed.
You can also use this in sweet dishes by removing the onion powder and garlic in your mixture.
Because cashews are high in fat, these nuts make an excellent dairy-free option to sour cream.
You can make a vegan sour cream by soaking cashews with vinegar overnight until they soften. You will then puree the resulting overnight nuts with lemon juice and nutritional yeast. After that, the mixture is strained and then mixed with a quarter of a teaspoon salt, two teaspoons of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a blender or food processor for three to four minutes.
Cashew is perfect for those who don’t want soy. You cannot use this sour cream alternative for baking, but using it for soups and side dishes will be an excellent choice.
Coconut milk is popular in Southeast Asian cuisine as well in South American and Caribbean cuisines. Coconut milk is extracted from freshly grated coconut milk. The cream that remained at the top of the full-fat coconut milk can be skimmed off and blended with other ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and sea salt to make a vegan sour cream perfect for baked goods. The ratio of is one tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of coconut milk to achieve that tangy sour cream taste.
You can also opt to canned coconut cream, but of course, it’ll have more fat content. Just mix a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of coconut cream then voila, a vegan sour cream is born.
Because coconut milk tastes a bit sweet, you can’t use it to certain recipes. It will, however, be perfect for baking, bisques and fruit platters,
Silken tofu with lemon juice
A carton of silken tofu, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed in a blender will yield a tasty vegan sour cream alternative. Best of all, a cup has only 12 grams of fat!
You may also blend ten and a half ounces of crumbled tofu, four teaspoons of lemon juice, about two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and half a teaspoon of salt.
Soy-based yogurt or vegan sour cream
You can also buy commercial soy-based yogurt or vegan sour cream, but most of them will have the similar amount of calories and fat with a dairy sour cream.
Because you’re not making them yourself, there can be added sugars and preservatives on these store-bought vegan yogurts.
Bonus Topic: Can I Make Sour Cream at Home?
The answer is yes you definitely can! Making your own sour cream can be a fun and rewarding experience. You just have to consider two things:
What cream are you going to use?
Choosing the cream that you’re going to use is our top factor to consider because the consistency of your sour cream is going to depend on it. Raw cream will give you a thin consistency, while pasteurized heavy or whipping cream will result in a thick consistency. Never use ultra-pasteurized or ultra-high temperature cream because this yields inconsistent textures.
Should you use a starter culture or an alternative?
The taste and texture are what make a sour cream more than just a cream. Choosing to add a starter culture will give you the satisfaction not only in taste but healthwise because probiotics are added too.
You can also use one tablespoon of cultured buttermilk per cup of cream or one teaspoon of milk kefir grains as an alternative to a sour cream starter culture.
How can I make my homemade sour cream thicker?
You can make the cream thicker using vinegar. The dairy plus vinegar combination will result in a thick, tangy texture on the cream. Another way to thicken your sour cream is by heating the cream to 180°F for 30 minutes. Cool this down, and then add your starter culture.
Adding dry milk powder before heating the cream can also thicken the cream. Start in small amounts of dry milk powder and be sure to dissolve it well.
Congratulations on making it to the end without a sour pout! Now you can impress your family and friends with these sour cream substitute.
Whatever your reasons for using sour cream, you can now enjoy its creamy texture and tangy flavor even if you are lactose intolerant or has a milk allergy using our mentioned dairy free options.
We hope that we have given ideas for those who are in a vegan diet and those who are avoiding dairy products due to health reasons. You can also indulge in creamy dips and soup knowing there are low-fat substitutes for sour cream that you can make at your own home easily.
Having an option to control the ingredients for your sour cream also gives you control on its flavor and consistency. Choose from these options so you’ll never have to compromise for a recipe.
Got questions about sour cream substitutes? Leave them below!