How to Make Sour Cream

Store bought sour cream has fillers and preservatives that you might not want on your baked potato.  It might even be made from milk that’s been genetically modified.  You don’t need to go without, though.  You can make sour cream at home with just two ingredients and a mason jar.

Sour cream can be made from store-bought, pasteurized cream.  You can also make sour cream from raw milk cream that’s been skimmed off the top of fresh cow’s milk.   Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk do not naturally separate in the same way as cow’s milk.  You’ll need a cream separator to extract the cream from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk for this recipe.

How to Make Sour Cream

A Home-made Sour Cream Recipe

Yield 2 cups


  • 2 cups of full fat cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk with live culture or 2 tbsp. kefir milk, with the grains removed


  • 1 wide mouth quart Mason jar
  • 1 wide mouth lid

Method :

  1. Clean and sanitize the Mason jar, lid, and stirring spoon by washing with hot, soapy water.
  2.  Pour full fat cream into the jar.  Add the live cultured buttermilk or kefir.  Stir the cream to evenly distribute the live bacteria.  Cap the jar.

To culture at room temperature:

You can culture this on your kitchen counter in a room that is around 70°F.  It will take about 30 hours to thicken and sour.  After 24 hours at room temperature the cream will be crème Fraiche – thickened but fairly sweet, not quite sour cream.  The cultured sour cream is ready when the cream is thick and tastes like sour cream.

To culture like yogurt:

I find that the product is smoother tasting if I place the jar, with cream and culture added, in a warm place overnight.

Here’s how I do it.  I put the mason jar in a 2-quart bowl, half full of hot tap water.  Then put this in my electric oven with the temperature turned off.  I leave the oven light turned on, though, to add just a bit of warmth.  Leave it overnight.  This maintains the oven temperature at about 105°F.

After 8 hours the cream will thicken to the consistency of sour cream.  It has a sour taste and creamy texture you expect from sour cream.  Refrigerate it and it will thicken up even more.

Any way that you would use to make yogurt, will work to keep this cultured cream at the correct temperature.  I use the oven method, but you may use a yogurt maker, an insulated chest, or even a warming cabinet to maintain a consistently warm temperature for the best flavor.

Cultured sour cream with live lacto-bacteria will keep fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge.  If you freeze it, it will last three months in the freezer.

To create a perpetual culture:

On your next batch of sour cream, use 2 tbsp. from this batch in place of the live culture that the recipe calls for.  You’ll be able to keep your sour cream culture going indefinitely, as long as there are no signs of spoilage.


Chris is a teacher, author, gardener, and herbalist with 30+ years’ of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles. She teaches workshops and writes extensively about gardening, crafts, scratch cooking, fermentation, medicinal herbs, and traditional skills on her blog at Chris is the author of the The Beginner’s Book of Essential Oils, Learning to Use Your First 10 Essential Oils with Confidence and Homegrown Healing, from Seed to Apothecary. Her newest book is “The Beeswax Workshop, How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More” with Ulysses Press (2017). Chris is a contributing writer to The Biblical Herbal Magazine, The Fermentools Blog, and the Attainable Sustainable blog. Her books are available on Amazon. Chris lives with her husband Robin in the mountains of British Columbia on a 140-acre ranch where they raise lamb. They have 3 adult children and 3 granddaughters.

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