How to Make Sour Cream and Buttermilk- The Easiest Cultured Dairy

Ok, I will admit it. I do not make homemade yogurt. Sure, I have… but the results are iffy, and the temperatures need to be precise. What is more, you need fresh culture very frequently if not every time. I do not even make Kefir. Straining out those grains starting to get on my nerves.

But what about all those wonderful benefits of cultured dairy? The probiotics? Their healing properties? Easier to digest? I still get them. Just in an easier, and more frugal way. Buttermilk and, it’s AMAZING counter part, sour cream. I know you are all thinking buttermilk? But trust me buttermilk, despite prejudices, goes way beyond biscuits, pancakes, and washing pigs for state fairs. I use it, and sour cream, as our main sources of cultured dairy. I list several uses at the bottom of this post, but first let me amaze you with the ease of making it.

Buttermilk and Sour Cream (Creme Fraiche) 

Seriously. This is so easy… why have I not been making it for years?

For your first batch get some cultured buttermilk from the store and some whole raw milk. BTW that is milk. Not great value purified water. That would be some horrific water.

Pour some buttermilk into a very clean glass jar. If the glass jar you got for purposes like this still smells like pickles, get another one that does not.

Now pour in some of that delicious raw milk. You need about 1 part buttermilk to 3 parts milk. If you KNOW your buttermilk is fresh you don’t need quite that much, but that is a safe ratio.

Give it a little stir.

Use a rubber band to attach a clean cloth to the top. Ah. Ain’t it perty?

Find a place away from direct light, and away from any other fermenting products (such as this incredibly delicious LF Lemonade)

If you have space in your linen closet just for things to sit and ferment, I will not make fun of you. Virtual pinky promise.

After 24 hours this is what you get. The cream is sour cream, and the milk is buttermilk.

Skim off the sour cream. It will not be as think as you are used to because it is room temperature, and because it just isn’t. It tastes better so don’t make fun of it. It makes your taste buds sing.

From a gallon of milk you will get nearly a quart of sour cream. I used half a gallon and only got a cup… someone had not been shaking the milk thoroughly before pouring.

NOTE: This makes a thicker buttermilk sort of like yogurt, sometimes it curdles a little bit which is fine for smoothies and baking. If you want a more traditional buttermilk you will need to separate the cream and buttermilk and ferment each in different containers with the ratio of 1 part buttermilk to 3 parts cream or milk. Ferment the buttermilk for 8 hours and the sour cream for 24. I find this easier since I do not have to wait to be able to separate the milk and cream before starting the process.

Future Batches

Save some buttermilk to use for your next batch. If your buttermilk ever gets super old (a few weeks) go to the store and get more. Use a clean container each time, or you will risk bad bacteria growing in your buttermilk. I am trying to get into the habit of making it every week so I will never have to buy a starter again.

Uses for the buttermilk

If it is yogurt thick (which I get 3/4 of the time) you can sweeten and use like yogurt.
Use in place of kefir and yogurt in baking.
Use for smoothies.
Use for ranch.
Use for buttermilk biscuits and pancakes.
Use to keep your son from saying “buttermilk” every two seconds.

USES for the sour cream

Use in your favorite recipes.
Use in soups and stews.
Use on top of anything.
Mix with equal parts honey or powdered sucanat for the most amazing drizzle you will EVER have.
Use in place of regular cream for ganache for a less sweet, more decadent dessert.
Eat it with a spoon, but do not say you would do so publicly such as on a blog.
Mix with frozen blueberries and eat it. Seriously.

Well, there you have it. The easiest cultured dairy you will ever make. 

Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade


  1. I know this is an old post, but I personally was about to get a yogurt culture as a birthday present next week so I found this happily looking for yogurt recipes. I’m getting a culture that does not require a yogurt maker, and is an heirloom culture that does not need to be replaced. Cultures for health has two of these (I’m going with Matsoni because I think it’s supposed to be more tart). Just in case you want to branch into yogurt. I plan on using my culture to make buttermilk as well :).

    • Thank you! I have actually figured out yogurt since posting this (and now most of us can’t have dairy anymore :( )