Did you know that you can make your own sour cream at home?
All you need is two ingredients – heavy cream (any kind is fine, but the less additives the better) and buttermilk with live active cultures.
In a clean, dry jar, pour 1 cup of fresh heavy cream from a newly opened carton and add 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Let the jar sit on the counter undisturbed for 6 hours or overnight until the whole mixture thickens and sets.
The key success with this recipe is to use fresh buttermilk with live cultures AND to use heavy cream from a carton that has just been opened. If the carton has been previously opened, you will need to pasteurize your heavy cream to 165 degrees F and then let it cool to room temperature before adding your buttermilk. If you add the buttermilk to the cream while it is hot it will kill the cultures and you won’t end up with anything but a tangy heavy cream and you’ll be back where you started.
If you have access to raw milk you can also use a culture from some of your milk that has clabbered to make some wild sour cream. Simply follow the instructions above replacing the buttermilk with clabber. It works quite well and some people, like my son, tolerate the wild culture better than the cultures in the buttermilk. You can use the cream that you have skimmed from your fresh milk, or cream from the store, and both work fine to make this sour cream at home.
Once the cream has set, store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.
You can also keep your culture going perpetually if you make a new batch within 7-10 days of culturing the last batch. And if you need extra, just double or triple the recipe. It works great!
Stay tuned for an allergy friend recipe for homemade, sugar and vinegar free ranch dressing….
Garlic Salt is the seasoning I use the most. It’s basic and I find it to be the most versatile. I use it on the kids chicken strips that they eat every day for lunch, and I REALLY like it on our sourdough crackers. If you want to try to craft your own, save an empty grinder and mix the following together.
Homemade Garlic Salt:
3 tsp parsley flakes
3 tsp dried minced garlic
2 tsp onion flakes
2 tsp salt
And if you’re interested in making your own spice blends and seasoning mixes, check out Homesteading Family’s Homestead Kitchen Membership (affiliate link). They have a full Pantry Challenge going on right now with a whole workbook full of DIY baking and spice mixes that you can make yourself for pennies.
This cheese couldn’t be easier. All you need is a gallon of whole milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized, a big pot, colander, tea towel or cheese cloth, lemon juice, and milk.
This recipe yields about 1 pound plus of cheese. If you want a smaller batch, this recipe can also be halved. Just buy a half gallon of milk instead.
1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
¼-½ cup acid such as lemon juice or vinegar
¼ tsp salt
Optional Ingredients: seasonings like pepper, garlic, chives, and parsley for a savory cheese, or your favorite jam for something sweet.
Cheesecloth or non-fuzzy tea towel
Large heat proof bowl
Heavy bottom pot (stainless steel, enameled cast iron, or Instant Pot)
Digital food thermometer (optional)
Pour 1 gallon of milk into an Instant Pot or heavy bottomed pot. Heat until the milk is steaming or until a thermometer reads 185 degrees F. If using the Instant Pot, pour the milk in and select the Yogurt setting. When the display reads Yogt, the milk has been sufficiently heated.
Add ¼ cup of your acid and stir. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes. If it doesn’t begin to separate and curdle, then check your temp and heat your milk so that it is a little hotter, or add 2 tbsp more acid at a time stirring to distribute the acid through the milk. Do this until you begin to see the curds separate into greenish looking whey.
Once you see the separation, let the curds sit in the whey for 10 minutes.
Line your colander with the cheesecloth or tea towel and pour the whey into the colander being careful not to burn yourself. There will be lots of whey. Be sure the bowl doesn’t overflow.
Once all the contents of the pot have been poured into the colander, move the colander over to the pot to continue draining until the desired texture has been achieved. If you wish a drier, more crumbly cheese, let it drain longer. If you desire a softer, more spreadable cheese, drain less.
Add salt and seasonings if desired and mix through the cheese.
Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within 7-10 days.
Soft Spreadable Cheese: Simply drain drain the whey, salt and either immediately warm, or cool and refrigerate until needed. If your cheese is too dry, simply add a little bit of the whey that you poured off and stir back in until the desired soft texture is reached.
Ricotta: Follow the instructions above but drain a little longer until the cheese is a little drier and the curd is crumbly.
Cream Cheese Variation: If you desire a smoother, cream cheese texture, run your cheese through the food processor until smooth. This can be used as a cream cheese substitute.If your cheese is too dry, and won’t blend to a smooth texture, simply add some of the whey back in until the desired texture is achieved.
This cheese is great spread on crackers with a little of your favorite jam to sweeten it up. 😊
Note: Leftover whey from cheese can be used in baking or to water acid loving plants.
Want to learn more….
Consider Homesteading Family’s Practical Homemade Dairy Course (affiliate link) if you’re interested in creating more homemade dairy products in your kitchen. Carolyn covers basic fresh dairy products that you can make in your kitchen like homemade coffee creamers and butter, and then she moves on to cultured dairy like buttermilk and sour cream, and finally easy and advanced cheeses. It’s definitely an all in one course. My family has benefited as now I can make cheese for my son that he can eat because I can control the cultures that are added. It’s the most comprehensive homemade dairy course out there.
Do your local grocery stores have fresh cranberries yet? If so, snatch them up while you can. I’ve made this fermented Lemon Cranberry Honey the last couple of years and realized last year that I didn’t make nearly enough last time. So I upped my game and instead of the two jars I made last year, this year I made six! One bag of cranberries will yield about three cups worth of relish. Hopefully this will last us through till next year when I can get fresh cranberries again. I tell you there is nothing better on toast in the morning and it makes whipping up a batch of lemon cranberry scones a cinch!
It couldn’t be easier, chop the cranberries in your food processor, put them in a jar, add some lemon peel, cover them with honey, and put on the lid. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of weeks agitating the jar a little each day and then move to cold storage. I’ve had a forgotten jar last nearly a year and it was still delicious.
We finally had cherry tomatoes begin to ripen after a long, cool spring, and the hottest, driest summer I can remember. And they are ripening just as it’s beginning to hit the 30’s at night, so I’m trying to bring them in as soon as there is a hint of yellow.
Of course, there are too many to eat fresh, even with a tomato loving six year old, so I have to do something with the extras.
So I made a batch of fermented garlic Basil tomatoes which I’ll probably blend up later on to use as a pasta sauce. After it ferments I’ll strain it and blend it all together in the food processor adding little bits of the fermenting liquid until I like the texture, and then pour over and toss with cooked pasta.
If you want to try your own, take fill a quart size jar with cherry tomatoes to about 1/2” below the shoulder. Add 2 1/2 tsp of salt, a few basil leaves if desired, and 1-2 cloves of garlic (also optional). Cover with filtered or distilled water. Weight down and cover with a glass weight, clean onion skin, or zip-lock baggie filled with a bit of water. Your goal here is to keep all the food particles under the liquid so that they are not exposed to oxygen so that they will not mold.
Loosely screw on your lid, and you’re done! That was easy wasn’t it? Let it sit for 2-3 weeks until it hits a flavor profile that you like, and when it does, move it to cold storage in the fridge. Fell free to open your jar to taste the tomatoes after the first week to see how they are progressing so that you can learn what flavors you like and when to stop the fermenting process by moving it to cold storage. But, each time you open the jar be sure that you settle everything back under the liquid and your weight or follower as fermenting weights are called.
You may notice that the jar I am using is not a regular mason jar. Any glass jar that you have will do. I have used canning jars, old jelly jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc. as long as it is clean and you have a way to keep the contents submerged, you’re good to go! But these Weck jars are my new favorite jars for fermenting. Why? Well, they are very pretty, but the main reason is that they have glass lids that clip on. This means that I can grab a lid from a jar that is the next smallest size down and use that lid as my weight. It’s so easy and it fits perfectly! I love it! And they don’t need to be burped because the lids clip on. They will release the pressure on their own or you can just give the little tab on the sealing ring a pull if you want to and you never have to remove the lid until it’s ready to be eaten. Plus, if you are a canner, they work for that too. The rings can even be reused. So they are very versatile. They can be pricey if purchased new, but last a long while if cared for well, and I have even found some at thrift stores before and I definitely snatched them up!
Weck Small Batch Preserving (affiliate link) is a great book if you’d like to investigate using Weck jars further for either canning or fermenting. It’s available through most libraries as an e-book, which is how I discovered it. And if you are new to fermenting, the Fearless Fermenting workshop (affiliate link) by Carolyn at Homesteading Family is a great course to get you started.
Hope you get to concoct something fun and yummy in your kitchen soon! 😊
I’ve been experimenting with making citrus scrap vinegar this summer and I must say that I am hooked!
Pictured here is a batch of lemon grapefruit vinegar and it couldn’t be easier to make your own. And the best part is, it’s a great way to use up all the rinds from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, or whatever citrus you have on hand. Just keep the rinds in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks until you accumulate enough to make a batch.
So far I’ve tried lemon, lime (my favorite so far – the flavors are complex and delicious!), orange, orange with blood orange, orange and lemon, and now grapefruit and lemon, and they are all great!
To make a batch first collect your jar of rinds, add some sugar, add some just boiled water, cover with a coffee filter kept on the jar with a rubber band, and stir daily for 4-5 days. You will see it start tomorrow bubble. When the bubbling slows down, add more sugar and stir for another week. Strain out the fruit scraps pour back into a clean jar, cover again with the coffee filter and let it sit for a month. If a opaque film develops on the surface, don’t worry, that is the vinegar mother and a good thing.
For a 1/2 gallon jar of citrus peels add 1/3 cup sugar at the first mixing, and then another 1/4 cup somewhere around day 5 or once the bubbling settles down.
For a quart jar of citrus peels add 2 tbsp sugar at the first mixing, and then another 2 tsp somewhere around day 5 or once the bubbling settles down.
After a month can test the acidity of your vinegar if you like to be sure it is acidic enough (4-5 on the pH scale) using paper test strips, or you can just taste it. If it tastes like vinegar, then it’s done! You can store it in the fridge to age and mellow it if you want or keep it in a cool, dark cupboard or your pantry as you would your other vinegars.
You can really make vinegar out of almost anything with fruit or some level of sugar content. I’ve been really enjoying this book if you want to learn more. Kirsten does a great job of explaining it ALL!
It may sound strange, and I’m not sure what to name it (comment if you have suggestions), but it is beautiful, delicious, and easy to make.
I saved my stems from my red Swiss Chard, chopped them, added some chopped onions, and a few slices of a chopped Jalapeño, added sea salt and mixed until it tasted pleasantly salty, covered with water and a follower (in this case a zip lock baggie with water), let it sit for 2-3 days on the counter and Voilà! I have a delicious, beautiful, probiotic rich relish that livens up any meal. I’ve added it to dinners, topped my lunches with it, and even added it to my fried egg with breakfast.
For other fermented vegetables ideas try some of these recipes:
Who doesn’t like a little spice in life? I know I do.
I was bottling up some kombucha for a second ferment tonight planning to add some strawberries. But alas, the strawberries had gotten pushed to the back of thr fridge and when I finally found them they were moldy.
But there’s always some fruit around here that is on the edge needing to be used up, so nectarines to the rescue. I sliced up some white nectaries that were over ripe which makes them perfect for this use as there will be lots of good sugars to feed the bacteria, and while I was slicing them I noticed half of a Jalepeno on the counter from dinner.
🤔 My wheels started turning and I got to wondering how that would go with the nectarines. I think it might be pretty good. I’ve never made a spicy kombucha before, so I decided to add a couple slices to one bottle and see how it turns out. At the very least, this will ensure that I’ll get a bottle to myself before the kids drink up the other two. 😂
Playing with flavors can be fun, and I’ll be sure to edit this post and let you all know how it turns out. To see my other favorite kombucha flavors visit this post on Flavored Kombucha.
And if you like spice, stay tuned for a post later in the week on my new favorite spicy fermented relish. 😁
The School of Traditional Skills brings together experts in homemaking, homesteading, gardening, and real food topics. September 12-15 you have the chance to attend an amazing and FREE Summit featuring the following speakers:
My wheat sourdough starter (half all purpose and half whole wheat), my delicious fermented cranberry lemon honey, my gluten-free sourdough starter, and my homemade wild sour cream.
My family and I hit the road this summer for a 3,000 mile road trip to visit family, and these little guys came along for the ride.
I packed them carefully in my electric cooler and at each place we stay I’ve been able to bake bread for my family, cranberry lemon scones for the aunts, uncles, and cousins, GF bread for my SIL, and most importantly, I can keep my clabber culture going so that I can make cheese once we get home. It needs to be fed weekly and would have certainly died while we were away if I had left it at home.
Ferments can behave differently during the summer. Changes in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, elevation, all affect how your cultures perform and you need to know them well enough to adjust your technique accordingly. At the lake where we are at a higher elevation than at home in New York, my sourdough and yeast breads rise faster, and my clabber takes longer to culture because of the cooler temperatures. Each ferment has a personality. You have to get to know it and adjust how you use it accordingly. For example, I have to watch the rise on my breads much more closely and reduce the amount of yeast that I use. I have to allow more time for my clabber to set up for fresh homemade sour cream.
I plan to start some new cheeses when I get home. And you’ll probably see some new fermented vegetables on my counter once I get back to my garden.
I have a wild clabber culture that I have kept going this last year with one batch of raw milk that my in-laws were able to bring me. I make a little batch of wild sour cream with it every week. If we don’t eat the sour cream, I use it up in baking to keep the culture going. I even travelled with my culture while we were away this summer to try and keep it alive since it needs to be cultured weekly.
My summer goal is to use this wild culture to make hard cheese for my son. If I had a regular source for raw milk, this would be easy. But I don’t. So my aim is to use store bought milk and my wild culture to achieve a cheese that my son can eat since store bought cultured dairy products and cheese brother him. Yet he does well on raw milk and my wild clabber culture.
We’ve done without cheese for so long, I’m really hoping that I can develop a successful recipe using my wild culture and store milk so that we can add back in some of our favorite family recipes. Let’s face it, pizza and enchiladas just aren’t the same without cheese.
So stay tuned as I post my progress. And I’m the meantime, if you’d like to delve into the world of homemade dairy, check out Homesteading Family’sHomemade Dairy Masterclass (affiliate link). It’s how I’ve learned and you definitely don’t have to have a milk animal to make all the recipes in the class. Everything I’ve made so far – butter, dairy creamer, sour cream, wild buttermilk, feta, ricotta, hard cheese, have been made all using store bought milk. And there are so many recipes that I haven’t tried yet. It’s definitely chock full of content.