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Making Sour Cream and Buttermilk

sour creamThe other day I talked about some of the things I am changing to get ready for the slow season around here, this means winter. I don’t like trips into town and put it off until I have to go when winter sets in it’s even worse. One single flake of snow and I’m not going anywhere.

Often I wish I had something that doesn’t have all that long of a shelf life and hard to stock up on. Sour cream and buttermilk are two that come to mind often around here for making meals for my family.

Dick is a sweetie and will go for me but I ofen discover I need these things in the middle of a recipe and he either isn’t home or I don’t want to wait for him to get back. His trips to the country store could be hours long if he runs into someone he knows and around here who doesn’t he know?

After a bit of research in the old cookbooks I have come up with these two recipes. The first one is how to keep buttermilk as a starter to start more buttermilk or things like the sour cream.

There are two types of buttermilk one is the result of making fresh butter, that isn’t the kind I am talking about. I am talking about cultured buttermilk. In my research I discovered you can make a substitute that will work in some recipes. That is using whole milk and mixing in a bit of lemon juice or white vinegar. While that will work in a pinch I want cultured buttermilk.

Buttermilk starter

First you will need a pint size jar that is clean and sterilized. I don’t worry to much about this, just that the jar has been washed in HOT soapy water and rinsed well. To this add a cup of fresh raw milk. Put the cover on and set on the counter until it has clabbered. Clabbering is when the milk has had a chance to thicken, not sour to become curdled but thick is the best way I can describe it. This should take several days.

Once that has happened place ¼ cup of the clabbered milk into another clean sterile pint jar. Add to this 1 cup of whole milk, it doesn’t have to be raw milk this time. Put the cover on and shake well. Allow it to sit at room temperature until it has clabbered. This will take another couple of days.

Repeat this process, ¼ cup of clabbered milk and 1 cup fresh milk several more times until the milk will clabber in 24 hours. Give it a taste it should taste tart and not bitter.

To make a quart of buttermilk, take a clean quart jar and add 6 ounces of your buttermilk starter and fill the rest of the jar with fresh milk. Put the cover on and shake well, allow this to clabber then put in the fridge for use. This should take 24 hours.

Don’t toss out all that clabbered milk while making your starter. It can be used as liquid in baking or fed to the animals.


Making Sour Cream

You will need a clean sterile quart jar with lid.

To this jar add 2 Tablespoons of your fresh buttermilk (or fresh cultured buttermilk from the store) if it is less that one day old. If not use a bit more buttermilk and add 1 cup of cream or half and half . Put the cover on and shake well.

Let this sit in a warm place on the counter for 24 hours until it clabbers. Date the jar and put in the fridge.

It’s that easy. Store bought milk is fine. I have also discovered that 2% milk will work but doesn’t have as good a flavor and is very thin. The more fat in the milk the thicker the sour cream is. I would like to try powdered milk and will sooner or later.

Now is all this work worth it you may ask? Well that is a question only you can answer, it’s not that much work in fact it’s down right easy. How can you mess up pouring milk in a jar and letting it sit on the counter?  It is to me when I want buttermilk and sour cream but don’t want to go to the store, I have it right here.

Is it cost effective? Again that depends, around here it sure is, here are a few numbers for you:

½ gallon of half & half cream …..$2.99 store brand

1 pint sour cream…..$2.29 store brand

1 quart buttermilk, cultured…..$3.99

So here are a couple of recipes to use that wonderful buttermilk and sour cream should you decide to give it a try. Since I make my own convenience mixes this one is a favorite around here.


Buttermilk pancakes mix

  • 14 cups flour ( I use a combination of whole wheat, white and flax meal)
  • 6 Tbl. baking powder
  • 1 Tbl. plus 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar

Sift together 3 times and store in air tight container.


To make the pancakes:

  • 1 ½ cups pancake mix
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 extra large egg (or 2 med)
  • 2 Tbl. vegetable oil ( I use sunflower, flax or olive)
  • 3 Tbl. water
  • 2 Tbl. melted butter

 Add the dry mix to a large bowl. In another bowl mix together the remaining ingredients, then add to the mix until just blended. Don’t over mix. I let this sit a couple of minutes before cooking on the electric grill that has been greased.


Berry Muffins

Preheat oven to 375° f (190° c)

spray muffin tins with cooking spray or use muffin papers

  • 5 cups flour (I use a combination of wheat, wheat germ, white and flax seed)
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/3 cups oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (if frozen don’t defrost first)

 Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. In another bowl mix together remaining ingredients except berries. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently fold in the berries. Don’t over stir or muffins will be tough.

Spoon into muffin tins and I let them sit a couple of minutes then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

bananna breadThis is one of those recipes you can’t help but play around with. I have used blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and bananas.  But fresh cranberries and a bit of oatmeal for some of the flour seems to be a favorite around here, the crisp tartness of the cranberries and the crunch of the oatmeal is a big hit. When I made them with bananas I used 3 mashed added a bit of cinnamon and walnuts and left out the oil. And as you can see I didn’t use muffin tins either…Go figure, Karyn didn’t follow directions :0

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