Sour cream is a dairy product rich in fats obtained by fermenting a regular cream by certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, introduced either deliberately or naturally, sours and thickens the cream. Though only mildly sour in taste, the name stems from the production of lactic acid by bacterial fermentation, sometimes referred to as "souring".
Sour cream, made out of cream, contains from 12 to 16 percent butterfat
, and gets its characteristic tang from the lactic acid
created by the bacteria
. Sour cream often contains additional ingredients such as gelatin
, and vegetable enzymes
Light sour cream contains about 40 percent less butterfat than regular sour cream because it is made from a mixture of milk
and cream rather than just cream.
Non-fat sour cream is thickened with stabilizers and thickeners such as corn starch
, and guar gum
, and contains no or trace amounts of butterfat.
Sour cream is not fully fermented, and as such must be stored under refrigeration
. As with other dairy products, is usually sold with an expiration date stamped on the container, though whether this is a "sell by" a "best by" or a "use by" date varies with local regulation. Sour cream can also grow mold
on its surface. Unlike hard cheese
products, sour cream cannot still be used if the moldy part is removed.
Used primarily in the cuisines of Europe
and North America
, sour cream is often used as a condiment
. It is a traditional topping for baked potatoes
, added cold along with chopped fresh chives
. It is used as the base for some creamy salad dressings
and can also be used in baking
, added to the mix for cakes
, American-style biscuits
. In Central America
, a slightly different variation of soured cream, is a staple ingredient of a full breakfast
Sour cream can also provide the base for various forms of dip used for dipping potato chips or crackers
, such as "onion dip."
In Tex-Mex cuisine
, it is often used as a substitute for crema