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Sour cream is a dairy product obtained by fermenting a regular cream with certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which is introduced either deliberately or naturally, sours and thickens the cream. Its name stems from the production of lactic acid by bacterial fermentation, which is called souring. The taste of sour cream is only mildly sour.
Sour cream, made out of cream, contains from 18 to 20 percent butterfat–about 22 grams per 4 fluid ounce serving–and gets its characteristic tang from the lactic acid created by the bacteria. Commercially produced sour cream often contains additional thickening agents such as gelatin, rennet, guar and carrageen, as well as acids to artificially sour the product.
Light, or reduced-fat, 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. Fat-free "sour cream" contains no cream at all, and is made primarily from non-fat milk, modified cornstarch, thickeners and flavoring agents.
Sour cream is not fully fermented, and as such must be stored under refrigeration. As with other dairy products, it 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. Food authorities, such as the USDA, advise that sour cream with visible mold should be discarded, as it may be contaminated below the surface and could contain dangerous mycotoxins and aflatoxin.
Sour cream is used primarily in the cuisines of Europe and North America, often 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, cookies, American-style biscuits, doughnuts and scones. It can be eaten as a dessert, with fruits or berries and sugar topping. Also, it is sometimes used on top of waffles in addition to strawberry jam. In Central America, crema (a variation of sour 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.
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- Media related to Sour cream at Wikimedia Commons
- Meunier-Goddik, L. (2004). "Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche". Handbook of Food and Beverage Fermentation Technology. CRC Press. doi:10.1201/9780203913550.ch8. ISBN 978-0-8247-4780-0.
- Cristina Plotka, V.; Clark, S. (2004). "Yogurt and Sour Cream". Handbook of Food and Beverage Fermentation Technology. CRC Press. doi:10.1201/9780203913550.ch9. ISBN 978-0-8247-4780-0. —notes on the industrial production process for sour cream and yogurt.