Ever wondered how to make Homemade Sour Cream? The original Russian name for it is Smetana (Сметана) and it's easier to make than you think. Creamier and tastier than sour cream you buy in a store. It's a delicious Russian export!
Yup, Sour Cream has it's origins in Russia/Eastern Europe and is called Smetana. It's a staple in all Russian meals, from Pelmeni Dumplings, Borscht, Shchi Cabbage Soup, Blini... it goes on and on! It wasn't really discovered in 'the West' until the early 20th century, although popular across Eastern Europe. The sour cream we buy in stores isn't really sour cream, but just a starch thickened milk product. It's quite hard to find authentic sour cream without thickeners in stores.
Russian Sour Cream or Smetana was originally made by allowing whole milk to ferment for a few days in a warm room or oven. Lacto-fermentation turned the top layer into Smetana or Soured Cream. You would then 'smetat' (сметать) or sweep the top off, when led to the word Smetana or Sour Cream. You could still use this method, but is sometimes unpredictable.
How to make Sour Cream
Making natural homemade Sour Cream or Smetana usually involves adding a culture to milk, allowing it to ferment. In Russian, it's called zakvaska (закваска) which is a fermentation starter full of probiotics you can buy. Instead of using a Sour Cream Starter Mix, I use a natural probiotic rich Greek Yogurt to make sour cream. Don't use fake yogurt with added gelatine, thickeners or sugars (read your labels people). You can also use some Russian Smetana or Homemade Sour Cream from a previous batch to kick start this batch. Simply allow to lacto-ferment for a few days and there you have it!
This is an authentic Sour Cream or Smetana recipe, and doesn't use any cheating methods such as adding vinegar or or lemon juice. This causes a curdling effect in the process. As a result, the finished sour cream breaks down in a curdling effect in soups. Real sour cream shouldn't curdle when you add it into Borscht or Shchi.
Easy to make, authentic, no thickeners, and full of probiotics. These are some of the reasons to make your own Russian Homemade Sour Cream or Smetana (Сметана). Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Homemade Sour Cream or Russian Smetana Recipe (Сметана)
- 2 cups of whipping cream with high butter fat (heavy cream)
- 2 tablespoons natural yogurt or homemade sour cream
- It's best to warm the whipping cream, to slightly warmer than room temperature, but not hot! You can either warm in a pot and pour into a jar, or pour into a jar and warm in a pot of water. Either way, place the warmed cream into a mason jar.
- In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and about ⅓ cup of whipping cream until smooth and all lumps are gone. This will break up the thick yogurt, allowing for even distribution through the whipping cream. Add the whipping cream jar and mix.
- Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and leave in a warm spot for 24-48 hours. In summertime, the warmer house temp should be enough. In winter, place in a warmed oven. Don't leave oven on!
- The sour cream is ready when it is thick and creamy. It will thicken as you cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 12 hours before serving. Enjoy.