Sour Cream: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the health benefits, history, and uses of sour cream, a dairy product made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria, and discover various sour cream recipes.

What Is Sour Cream?

  • Sour cream is a dairy product made when bacteria (lactic acid-producing) is added to cream making a slightly tart, thick product.

Is Sour Cream Good For You?

If the sour cream has probiotics in it and is eaten in moderation, it can be good for you.

6 Health Benefits Of Sour Cream

1. Some varieties of sour cream have probiotics

  • Probiotics are live microbes that have health benefits, like improved digestion and immune function
  • Sour cream is traditionally made by fermenting dairy cream with lactic acid bacteria, which are one of the most common probiotics in food production
  • But most commercial sour cream is pasteurized to lower the risk of food borne illness, so any live bacteria are destroyed before they make it into the final product
  • Some brands add the live microbes back into the sour cream after pasteurization for the probiotic benefits

2. Sour cream may promote the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

    • Certain essential vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, and K) require a fat source to be absorbed most effectively in your digestive tract and sour cream provides that fat

3. Sour cream is particularly high in vitamin A in its most bioavailable (retinol) form.

  • Vitamin A is essential for our eyesight, immune system, and may help prevent macular degeneration

4. Sour cream is a good source of phosphorus

  • After calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body, and approximately 85% is stored in the bones.
  • It plays a vital role in strengthening our bones and maintaining dental health.

5. Sour cream is a good source of riboflavin (Vitamin B2).

  • Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) is important for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body

6. Sour Cream is A Good Source of Calcium

  • Calcium is important for bone health, bone density, and the health of our teeth

History, Background, and General Facts About Sour Cream

  • Sour cream is a dairy product made when bacteria (lactic acid-producing) is added to cream making a slightly tart, thick product.
  • Processed sour cream may include additives and preservatives: grade A whey, modified food starch, sodium phosphate , sodium citrate , guar gum , carrageenan , calcium sulfate , potassium sorbate , and locust bean gum
  • Sour cream's history dates back to the first half of the 20th century, and is associated with the cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. As people immigrated west, it became more popular in other countries.
  • Sour cream was originally made by letting cream that was skimmed off the top of milk ferment at a moderate temperature. It can also be prepared by the souring of pasteurized cream with acid-producing bacterial culture. The bacteria that developed during fermentation thickened the cream and made it more acidic, a natural way of preserving it.
  • Today, commercial sour cream is made from light cream (18 to 20 percent milk fat) which, after pasteurization, is inoculated with lactic-acid-producing bacteria.
  • The cream is ripened 14 to 16 hours at 72°F (22°C), then chilled and aged from 12 to 48 hours. The bacterial action thickens the cream and adds a tangy flavor.

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Sour Cream?

  • Ukrainian - borscht
  • Polish - mizeria (cucumber salad with sour cream dressing)
  • Mexican - elote en vaso (corn in a cap), as a garnish for soups, quesadilla, tacos
  • United States - sour cream cornbread, sour cream cheesecake, garnish for quesadilla and chili

What Is The Best Way To Store Sour Cream?

  • Refrigerated unopened sour cream can last for about 1 week beyond itssell by datewhile refrigerated opened sour cream generally lasts fewer days.
  • Sour cream can be frozen in the container for up to six months. The texture will change because it separates as it freezes and it's best reserved for cooking and baking.

What Are The Different Types Of Sour Cream?

  • Crème Fraîche :
    • Sour cream is similar to crème fraîche , the French version of sour cream.
    • They are both white dairy products made with bacteria that thicken the cream and give it a tangy flavor.
    • Crème fraîche has more fat, so it’s better for high-heat cooking.
    • Sour cream is typically more tart than crème fraiche.
  • Crema:
    • Sour cream has a fat content of about 20%, is a bit more acidic in flavor and is fairly thick. It also tends to curdle easily when used in hot preparations.
    • Mexican crema has a higher fat content of about 30%, isn't quite as sour and is a lot thinner.
    • In Tex-Mex cuisine, sour cream is often used as a substitute for crema in nachos, tacos , burritos , taquitos or guacamole.
  • Clabber :is a type of soured milk.
    • Looks thick like yogurt
    • In areas of the Southern United States, it was commonly eaten for breakfast with brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, or molasses added.
    • Some people also eat it with fruit or black pepper and cream.
    • Clabber was used as a quick leavener in baking. Due to its stability, clabbered milk has been popular in areas without access to steady refrigeration.
  • Yogurt :
    • The difference between yogurt and sour cream is that yogurt is fermented milk, while sour cream is made of fermented dairy cream.
    • The bacteria introduced to make sour cream is different from the ones used in yogurt. In terms of discovery, or date of production, yogurt is much older than sour cream.
  • Vegan Sour Cream: soy-based sour cream, coconut milk-based, and cashew-based sour cream substitutes are an option

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Sour Cream

  • Eating sour cream in moderation is fine as long as you can tolerate dairy and lactose-based foods. If you have issues with lactose, you may want to avoid sour cream.
  • Most sour cream is high in fat and calories, so eating more than a serving suggestion may be bad for heart health.
Nutritional Facts
1 tbsp
Amount per serving
0.6 g
2.3 g
0.3 g
Saturated Fat
1.2 g
3.7 mg
0 g
0.4 g