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I live in Belgium and I can't find where to buy SOUR cream, which is amazing with quesadillas.

Is there a way to make it myself?

http://foodies.blogs.starnewsonline.com/files/2010/05/cosmic_quesadilla.jpg

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Are you looking for the yogurt-like sour cream, that's thick enough to scoop and serve with a spoon? (This is what "sour cream" commonly means in the US.) Or is it the pourable, more liquid crema that's sometimes called Mexican sour cream (or crema mexicana) and has a flavor a bit more like creme fraiche? –  Jefromi Apr 12 '13 at 15:03
    
@Jefromi I am looking to the sour cream that mexican restaurants serve with quesadillas. foodies.blogs.starnewsonline.com/files/2010/05/… –  L.V. Sharepoint Architect Apr 12 '13 at 16:28
    
@LuisValenciaMunoz if you have access to the restaurant and can take some of the sour cream home, (a take-home container with the sour-cream on the side) you can use it as the starter in cream per Tor-Einar Jarnbjo's answer. –  MandoMando Apr 12 '13 at 17:03
    
@LuisValenciaMunoz I described and asked about two possibilities because none of us know what your Mexican restaurants serve. But the picture helps: that's definitely the thick, American-style sour cream, not the "crema mexicana" or Mexican sour cream that I also described. –  Jefromi Apr 12 '13 at 17:45
    
As a fellow belgian, I feel your pain. However, I can find sour cream in Delhaize. –  Mien Apr 12 '13 at 21:11
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3 Answers

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There are many variants of sour cream. I am not quite up to date on the naming of dairy products in Belgium, but don't you find sour cream labeled as "zure room" (Dutch) or "crème aigre" (French)?

Mexican sour cream (Crema Mexicana) has however a higher fat content than the sour cream commonly available in European countries. A close approach is crème fraîche, but it might not be just as sour. If you want to make it yourself, you can add living bacteria culture (e.g. from yogurt) to heavy cream (fresh cream with >35% fat) and keep it at roughly 37°C until it reaches the required thickness.

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I am trying to understand the last statements, so I should buy a natural yogurt and add it to a heavy cream like this? google.be/… –  L.V. Sharepoint Architect Apr 12 '13 at 20:38
    
keep ir roughly at 37 degrees? so I mix both things together and cook them? How else would I get 37 degrees. –  L.V. Sharepoint Architect Apr 12 '13 at 20:39
    
Basically you need living lactobacillus. You can buy special cultures for yogurt making (probably very expensive) or use a yogurt with live bacteria. These are usually marked as such, commonly available and not utterly expensive. You add some of it to the heavy cream and either use a yogurt maker (designed to keep the content at 37°) or do the same thing without a yogurt maker, e.g. by heating it in a pot on the stove. Be careful to not warm it up way beyond 37°, as that would kill the bacteria. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 12 '13 at 22:44
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If you're looking for American-style sour cream, which it looks like from your pictures, you would start with a light cream (roughly 20% butterfat content), and then add a culture containing lactic-acid bacteria, particularly Streptococcus lactis (and perhaps some other things like Leuconostoc citrovorum for flavor). Set this out at room temperature for 12-24 hours, until it thickens appropriately.

You may have trouble finding these exact culturing bacteria in Belgium. These cultures are easily found in the United States in "cultured buttermilk," which uses the same process and bacteria as sour cream production, except with milk instead of cream. As I discussed recently in an answer to another question, you should be able to find similar cultures in the German product Dickmilch. I don't know if a similar product is available in Belgium, but if so, it may be able to provide you with the correct bacteria to add to your light cream.

Again, this will produce American-style sour cream, which is my best guess for your situation based on the picture you provided.

(By the way, Tor-Einar Jarnbjo's recipe should also work. It will make a thicker and richer product, since it is using heavy cream, and will have different flavor notes, since the yogurt bacteria are active at different temperatures and produce slightly different byproducts. It's just another kind of cultured cream, which, from all I can tell from a photo, may be closer to the version you eat in Belgium. Also, note MandoMando's comment that it may be possible to use the sour cream from the restaurant itself as a starter.)

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If a buttermilk equivalent isn't readily available, then I imagine Crème fraîche would use (exactly?) the same cultures as sour cream. –  Chris Steinbach Apr 12 '13 at 21:24
    
@ChrisSteinbach - I don't know. I did a few quick searches and couldn't find specifics on the exact bacteria used in commercially produced Crème fraîche. Traditionally, as I understand it, crème fraîche was produced by the natural fermentation of fresh cream (as was sour cream, for that matter). But cultured American sour cream today has a very different flavor and is thicker than crème fraîche I've encountered. Given the higher fat content of crème fraîche, I would think that one would get a thicker product than sour cream with the same culturing bacteria, rather than a thinner one. –  Athanasius Apr 13 '13 at 0:46
    
@ChrisSteinbach - I forgot about the thickening agents generally added to American sour cream. According to this source, the main difference is that crème fraîche uses cultures that produce additional aroma elements which ultimately mask the sour taste (the fat content helps too). If this is correct, I would assume that crème fraîche as a starter would produce a "less sour" sour cream. –  Athanasius Apr 13 '13 at 1:04
    
Most sour dairy products (be it yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche) are pasteurized to increase the shelf life. The pasteurization kills the bacteria cultures and the products are not suitable as starters anymore. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 13 '13 at 11:50
    
@Tor-EinarJarnbjo - I don't know what the European practice is, but this is not the case in the U.S. anymore. There is a lot of advertising and labeling about "live cultures" in many sour dairy products. I would go so far as to say that the norm for yogurt and "cultured buttermilk" in the U.S. is live cultures, which are perfectly suitable for starters. For sour cream, you may be correct -- I'm not sure I've ever seen "live culture" labels on sour cream, but I haven't looked (and I haven't tried it as a starter). Crème fraîche is rare in the U.S., so I don't know if there is a standard. –  Athanasius Apr 15 '13 at 0:55
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Mixing a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar into half a pint of cream will make a good approximation.

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Wouldn't that just make the cream curdle? –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 12 '13 at 15:42
    
Mix it in slowly, and it shouldn't, so long as you don't add too much! –  AlexW Apr 12 '13 at 19:04
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