How To Make Cultured Cream

Embracing the homesteading lifestyle is not just about growing your own vegetables or raising chickens; it’s about rediscovering age-old culinary practices that bring both flavor and nutrition to the table. Among these practices, the art of fermenting dairy stands out, with cultured cream being a prime example.

Making cultured cream is a process of fermenting cream to increase tanginess and introduce beneficial bacteria, which benefits gut health. Fermenting can extend the life of dairy products while increasing its health benefits to the consumer, making it an ideal homesteading choice.

But what exactly is cultured cream? How does it differ from the regular cream we pour into our coffee or whip for desserts? And more importantly, how can you, as a homesteader, make it in the comfort of your own kitchen? We will answer these questions, taking you through cultured dairy, its significance in a self-sufficient lifestyle, and the simple steps to create your very own batch.

How To Make Homemade Cultured Cream

Making cultured cream on the homestead is an important skill to have, especially if you keep dairy-producing livestock as part of your self-sufficiency strategy.

Excess cream and other dairy products can spoil very quickly, especially if you do not have ample refrigeration space.

Cultured cream is tangy, rich, and delicious and has been a staple in many traditional diets, offering a unique taste with many health benefits as a bonus. This makes cultured cream more than a practical way to extend the life of this dairy product on your homestead but also a healthy treat to include in your diet.

The Basics Of Cultured Cream

At its core, cultured cream is a dairy product that has undergone a fermentation process, transforming it from its original state into a tangier, thicker version of itself. But let’s break down what this really means and why it’s such a cherished component in many culinary traditions.

What Is Cultured Cream?

Cultured cream is a normal dairy cream that has undergone a fermentation process. Cultured cream is the result of introducing beneficial bacteria to regular cream.

These bacteria feed on the milk sugars, producing lactic acid in the process. This acidification gives the cream its distinctive tangy flavor and thickens its consistency.

Why Culture Cream?

Cultured cream has many benefits for homesteaders or anyone looking to extend the longevity of their food supplies while enhancing the product’s nutritional value. Below are some of the reasons cultured cream makes sense.

  • Flavor and Texture: The fermentation imbues the cream with a depth of flavor that’s both rich and tangy. Additionally, the process thickens the cream, making it ideal for a range of dishes, from soups to desserts.
  • Digestive Benefits: The bacteria introduced during fermentation are probiotics. These are beneficial for gut health, aiding digestion and promoting a healthy gut flora balance.
  • Preservation: Historically, fermenting was a method of preserving dairy products in times when refrigeration wasn’t available. The lactic acid by-product during fermentation is a natural preservative, which benefits by extending the shelf life of the cream.

Cultured Cream Vs. Regular Cream

While both regular and cultured cream originate from milk, the primary difference lies in fermentation. Regular cream is simply the fatty layer skimmed off the top of milk. Cultured cream, on the other hand, has been intentionally fermented to achieve its unique characteristics.

Some popular commercial varieties include the following.

  • Creme Fraiche: A French variant, this is a thick and creamy cultured product with a slightly nutty flavor. It’s versatile in both savory and sweet dishes.
  • Sour Cream: A more tangy and less fatty version, sour cream is a staple in many cuisines, especially in dips, dressings, and baked goods.

Homesteading And Cultured Cream

For those embracing the homesteading lifestyle, making cultured cream is a step towards self-sufficiency. It’s a simple process that requires minimal equipment, and the end product is a testament to the beauty of natural, homemade food.

In essence, cultured cream is more than just a dairy product; it’s a celebration of tradition, health, and product excellence. Whether you’re using it to elevate a dish or savoring its creamy goodness on its own, understanding its basics is the first step to fully appreciating its value in homesteading.

Ingredients Needed To Make Cultured Cream

Making cultured cream at home requires a few essential ingredients. While the list is short, the quality of each ingredient plays an important role in the final product. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need.

1. Cream

Cream is the main ingredient, and choosing the best cream possible will affect the quality and benefits of the final product.

Type of CreamDescriptionSourcing
Raw CreamCream that hasn’t been pasteurized contains natural bacteria.Local dairies or farmers’ markets.
Pasteurized CreamHeat-treated cream lacks natural bacteria but is more commonly available.Grocery stores. Choose options with minimal additives.

2. Starter Cultures

A starter culture contains the beneficial bacteria needed to ferment the cream and culture the product. There are some choices in starter culture, which we have detailed in the table below.

Starter TypeDescriptionSourcing
Mesophilic StarterThis bacteria is suitable for moderate temperatures. Ideal for culturing cream.It can be sourced online or at specialty food stores.
Existing Cultured ProductsProducts like yogurt, buttermilk, or store-bought sour cream can be used as starters, as they contain the necessary bacteria for fermentation.Grocery stores. Ensure they are unflavored and have live active cultures.

3. Equipment

While not considered ingredients, having the right equipment is crucial for culturing cream is essential.

  • Glass Jars. For fermenting and storing the cultured cream.
  • Wooden Spoon. For stirring and mixing.
  • Cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is useful if you wish to strain the cream for a thicker consistency.
  • Thermometer. To monitor the temperature during fermentation, especially if using pasteurized cream.

Making cultured cream requires minimal ingredients but emphasizes quality and purity. Whether you’re using raw or pasteurized cream, the key is to source the best possible ingredients and ensure your equipment is clean and ready for fermentation.

Step-By-Step Guide To Making Cultured Cream

Creating cultured cream at home is easy, and you will be rewarded with a delicious and versatile product. Follow our easy step-by-step guide below to make your first batch of homemade cultured cream.

1. Preparation For Culturing Cream

Propper and thorough preparation sets the foundation for success when making cultured cream at home.

  • Clean Everything. Ensure all your equipment, especially the glass jars and spoons, are thoroughly cleaned. This prevents any unwanted bacteria from affecting the fermentation process.
  • Choose Your Cream. Decide whether you’re using raw or pasteurized cream. Remember, the quality of your cream will directly influence the taste and texture of the end product.

When using pasteurized cream, it is recommended to heat the cream to 180°F or 82°C and then let the cream cool to 100°F or 37.7°C before adding the starter culture.

2. Selecting The Starter For Cultured Cream

Whether you require a starter or not will depend on the type of cream you have available to make your cultured cream.

  • For Raw Cream: Since it naturally contains bacteria, you can ferment it without adding any additional starter.
  • For Pasteurized Cream: Introduce a starter culture. This can be a mesophilic starter or a tablespoon of an existing cultured product like yogurt or buttermilk.

3. Mixing And Fermenting Cultured Cream

You are now ready to begin the cream fermentation process. Follow these steps closely to ensure the success of the final product.

  • Combine the cream and starter (where needed). In a glass jar, pour your cream and then add the starter (if using pasteurized cream). Stir gently using a wooden spoon until well combined.
  • Cover the jar. Use a loose-fitting lid or a piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. This allows the cream-culture mixture to breathe while keeping contaminants out.
  • Let it ferment. Place the jar in a warm spot, ideally between 70° to 77°F or 21°C to 25°C. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 12-48 hours. The exact fermentation time will essentially depend on the temperature and your desired thickness and tanginess.

4. Check The Cultured Cream For Readiness

While the process of making cultured cream is relatively easy, some things can go wrong in the process, or the fermentation can go too far, causing the cream to be too tangy for your taste.

  • Observe the texture. The cream should have thickened, resembling the consistency of yogurt or sour cream.
  • Taste test. The cultured cream should have a tangy flavor. Let it ferment for a few more hours if it’s too mild.
  • Important note. If the cream smells off or yeasty, or if you notice any mold, it’s best to discard it and start over.

Use your cultured cream as a topping for soups, baked potatoes, or desserts. It can also be incorporated into sauces, dips, or dressings for added richness and flavor.

5. Storing The Cultured Cream

Cultured cream is still a dairy product, requiring storage similar to normal dairy products. It will, however, last longer than most unfermented versions.

  • Transfer to the refrigerator. Once satisfied with the taste and consistency, tightly seal the jar and move it to the fridge. Cooling halts the fermentation process.
  • Cultured cream shelf life. Homemade cultured cream typically lasts for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Always check for any signs of spoilage before consumption.

Cultured Cream Tips And Tricks

You can tweak your cultured cream to create a product tailored to your specific taste and requirements or enhance the product for a fresh twist.

  • Consistency. If you desire an even thicker product, you can strain the cultured cream through a cheesecloth for several hours.
  • Flavor Variations: For an added twist, consider mixing in fresh herbs, garlic, or even fruit preserves once the cream is cultured.

Making cultured cream at home is a straightforward process that requires patience and a bit of attention to detail.

Making Cultured Sour Cream: A Special Mention

While cultured cream is a versatile and delightful addition to many dishes, its tangier cousin, cultured sour cream, deserves special attention. This creamy, zesty dairy product is a staple in many recipes, adding depth to both savory and sweet dishes.

While both cultured and sour cream undergo fermentation, sour cream has a more pronounced tangy flavor and is often thicker.

Cultured sour cream is made in the same way and using the same ingredients and equipment as cultured cream. The main difference is the cream is allowed to ferment for longer, increasing the tanginess and thickening the consistency of the final product.

Let the fermentation process continue for longer than when making cultured cream, and monitor the process until the desired texture and tanginess are achieved. Then, place the product in glass jars and store it in the refrigerator.

Benefits Of Cultured Dairy Products

Cultured dairy products have been consumed by various cultures worldwide for centuries. These fermented delights are delicious and packed with numerous health and culinary benefits.

ProbioticsCultured dairy products are rich in beneficial bacteria that promote gut health. These probiotics aid digestion and help maintain a healthy gut flora balance.
Enhanced Nutrient AbsorptionThe fermentation process breaks down compounds that can inhibit the absorption of minerals, allowing the body to absorb nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium more efficiently.
Vitamin ProductionThe bacteria involved in fermentation produce essential vitamins, including B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid.
Lactose DigestionFermented dairy products are often easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant, as the bacteria break down some of the lactose during fermentation.
Mental HealthA healthy gut biome has been associated with improved mental well-being. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like cultured dairy can positively impact mood and cognitive function.
Immune System BoostProbiotics in fermented dairy can enhance the body’s immune responses, helping fend off infections.
Skin HealthSome studies suggest that consuming fermented dairy can improve skin health and complexion, thanks to the beneficial bacteria and vitamins.

Cultured dairy products offer many benefits that go beyond just taste. They are a fusion of health, taste, and sustainability, making them valuable to any diet.

Troubleshooting Common Cultured Cream Issues

While making cultured dairy products at home is a rewarding experience, it’s not uncommon to encounter a few hiccups along the way. We have included a guide to troubleshooting some common issues that might arise.

ProblemPossible CauseSolution
The cream is too runny– Insufficient fermentation time.- Temperature too low during fermentation.– Allow the cream to ferment longer.- Ensure the fermentation area maintains a consistent warm temperature.
The cream is overly thick or curdled– Over-fermentation.- Temperature too high during fermentation.– Reduce fermentation time in future batches.- Ensure the fermentation area is not too warm.
Yeasty or cheesy odor– Contamination with unwanted bacteria or yeast.– Ensure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned before use.- Consider using a fresh starter culture.
Rancid smell– Cream was not fresh or was of poor quality.– Always use fresh cream from a reliable source.
Mold on the surface– Contamination from the environment.- The jar was not properly sealed.– Always cover the fermenting cream with a tight-fitting lid or clean cloth.- Store in a clean environment. If mold appears, discard the batch.
The cream is not tangy enough– Insufficient fermentation time.- Starter culture was not active.– Allow the cream to ferment longer for a tangier result.- Ensure the starter culture is fresh and active.
Liquid (whey) separates from the cream– Over-fermentation.- Temperature fluctuations during fermentation.– Monitor fermentation time closely.- Maintain a consistent temperature during fermentation.

While challenges can arise when making cultured dairy products at home, they are often easily addressed with some knowledge and troubleshooting. Keeping notes on fermentation times, temperatures, and outcomes can help you refine your process over time.


Cultured cream, a product of age-old traditions and simple fermentation processes, is a testament to homesteading and the richness of homemade foods. Its versatility in the kitchen, from savory dishes to sweet treats, showcases its unique ability to elevate home cooking and provide additional health benefits.

Beyond its taste and texture, the health benefits and sustainable aspects of making and consuming cultured cream resonate deeply with the principles of self-sufficiency and mindful consumption associated with homesteading. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or someone just beginning to explore fermentation, cultured cream offers a delightful and rewarding place to start your exploration of fermented food.



Alice is a writer who grew up on a beautiful homestead in rural Old England. She now lives in New England with her fur babies and is on a mission to return to the land for a simpler, greener, and all-round kinder existence.

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