Is sour cream in super markets made in the traditional whey? (Ha ha, just kidding.)

The traditional method of making sour cream is easy to describe: milk is spun using a centrifuge so as to extract a heavy cream, which is 1 part cream, 9 parts milk. (Cream for butter is lighter than this). The heavy cream is then cooled to thicken it, then the temperature is increased to about 85F. A small amount (1:20) of sour cream is added to initiate fermentation and the cream is gently stirred for 2 hours, then allowed to sit for 6 hours or to taste. When it is sour, it is refrigerated. In this state it can last for 2-3 months.

Modern recipes I have seen for home cooks obviously do not follow this method, because it requires having a milk separator and raw milk. Instead these recipes mix in buttermilk with light cream, or other methods, which are not true to the original method. However, I am wondering if store-bought sour creams follows the traditional method, or do modern commercial processes use light cream also?

  • 3
    Lot of brands include locust bean gum and other colloids to thicken the stuff up. Read the labels and your are like to find at least one brand that approaches 'real' sour cream. Feb 19, 2018 at 23:40

3 Answers 3


Years ago I worked for Daisy Brand Sour Cream, and during the tour of their facility, it was mentioned several times that they used the original method of making their sour cream that they've used for 100 years. I saw the cream loaded from the trucks and into various large containers for making the sour cream.

Indeed, their web site seems to bear this out.

They are the only sour cream brand that I trust when I'm cooking professionally.


The answers can differ regionally. For Germany, it would be illegal to put anything but sour cream into a container labeled "sour cream", the Milcherzeugnisseverordnung is quite strict there (even prescribes mesophilic cultures).

If there are parts of the world without this kind of legislation, you would have to somehow check it for each producer. Just because they are given the opportunity to mislead customers, it doesn't meant they will make use of it.


It depends on how commercial or industrial the sour cream is made.

Most commercial/industrial sour cream starts from milk derivative products (powders...) and bacterial culture (and other stuff)

Like this :


Some better commercial sour cream, only uses cream and bacterial culture.

Like this:


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