Make Your Own Sour Cream

By Carolyn Shearlock, copyright 2010 . All rights reserved.

Make Real Sour Cream
Sour cream is hard to carry on a boat, as it turns green in a week or so even in the refrigerator.  And if you don’t have much room in the refrigerator — or no refrigerator at all — it can be impossible.  The great thing, though, is that you can quickly and easily make your own from ingredients that are easy to carry and last almost forever!

Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of this article showing exactly how easy it is to make your own sour cream this way!

Image of media crema can

Nestle and several other Latin American dairy companies make a great product called “Media Crema” (literally translates as “half cream” or what we’d call “light cream”).  In the US, it almost always comes in cans like the one shown and is generally stocked with the Latin/Mexican foods in larger supermarkets.

In Mexico and Central America, you can also buy it (and sometimes “crema” or “heavy cream”) in vacuum-sealed boxes similar to juice boxes, as shown in the second picture (Lala is a huge brand in Mexico).  For some reason, I’ve never seen the boxes in the US.  I’m told that there are similar products in the Caribbean — if you know of brands and whether it comes in cans or boxes, please add this information to the comments below.

Either type of container holds about 8 ounces, or 250 ml — 1 cup.  And they both work equally well for making your own sour cream.  Best of all, they both last virtually forever (I think they usually have an expiration date of about 6 months away).  I found the little boxes easier to stow as they fit tightly together with no wasted space, plus they wouldn’t roll with the motion of the boat.  But if you’re in the US, you might not have a choice.

The procedure to make your own sour cream is simple.  Put the contents of the can or box of media crema in a plastic container that has a lid.  Mix in 1 teaspoon of vinegar (you won’t taste it if you use white, other types are very slightly noticable), lemon juice, lime juice, or white wine.  If you want a thicker sour cream, mix in a second teaspoon after the first teaspoon is mixed in.  Don’t use more than 2 teaspoons.

You can either use it immediately or, for the best results, put the lid on and refrigerate it for a half hour before using.  It will last 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Use it in any recipe, just as you would any other sour cream.  Note that this makes 1 cup, or a half pint — many dip recipes call for a pint, so you’d need a double batch.

No one ever believes how easy it is to make sour cream with ingredients that don’t require refrigeration — so here’s my video:

Since learning this method, I always keep the ingredients on hand . . . and real, rich, thick sour cream is just minutes away!

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  1. vrkelley says:

    Plain yogurt can substitute for sour cream also.

    • Thank you!!! I live in Panama and it is very difficult to get sour cream here.
      Will try this recipe as soon as I can. I will try it with lime also. (I’m partial to lemon and limes vs vinegar)

  2. After you put the vinegar into the container with a lid, what do you do? Shake it, stir it, let it sit, use a hand blender? Isn’t something missing here, or am I making too much of the procedure?

    • Carolyn Shearlock says:

      Your reaction is about like mine the first time I heard of making my own sour cream. I couldn’t believe it was that easy! But it is.

      Just mix the vinegar in. I use a small spoon and stir a few times (maybe 3 to 5 seconds is all). I guess you could shake it. I wouldn’t use a hand blender as it would add air.

      You can then use it immediately, but it’s even better if you put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  3. Thanks Carolyn … love sour cream!

  4. Charlotte on Facebook says:

    You must spend so much time writing and researching your blog, and we thank you!

  5. Thanks, I enjoy it! So many people passed their knowledge on to us when we were newbies and now I’m happy to pass it on. And if you have a tip you want to share with other readers, be sure drop me a note:

  6. Thanks for sharing, often I will go to make a recipe and it calls for sour cream……which often I do NOT have on hand.

  7. Thomas Jensen on Facebook says:

    Sandra and I tried this at home; it was great. We buy sour cream at the supermarket, but we keep this on hand too.

  8. JesseBo says:

    Does not work wit Nestle Cream tat is sold in the Philippines! Tried it twice and it never thickened.

  9. I’m so excited to find your web site and THANK YOU so much for the time you have invested!! We are getting ready to start our 3rd season of staying on the boat 6 months at a time. We are motor, not sail but still have a great love of the water! We will be back on St. Somewhere Dec. 2nd and I just found all of this wealth of information! We travel the south of Florida and the Bahamas so the cardboard info was wonderful. I tried your sour cream recipe tonight and it was wonderful!! I did add the extra teaspoon of vinegar as we like ours thick. Again thank you so much for your time!

  10. JessBo, I live in the Philippines too. I was going to try this recipe with Nestle Cream, but then saw your comment. Have you tried other brands of cream like Alaska? There’s another one, but I forget the brand. If not, where did you go to get your sour cream? I need sour cream for a cheese cake I’m making 2 days from now. I hope you could point me to a store that sells sour cream. I live in Manila. Thanks in advace.

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