What’s in an ingredient?

October 22, 2009 at 21:47 | Posted in Ingredients | Leave a comment

To have or to make from scratch… that is the question… at least today!

Here in Italy, we are wonderful food-lovers with dedicated food shops and amazing food aisles in supermarkets filled from the bottom to the very top with all sorts of gourmet stuff that will simply tickle your palate.

However, we do lack certain things that very often do appear on foreign-style recipes.
One of such things is sour cream. Can you believe it? Plain and simple sour cream. Of course, you may go to the big Italian cities where in super-accessorized supermarkets you will be able to find it, but in the Italy of the little towns and villages you certainly don’t.

So, exactly, what’s in this ingredient?

Sour Cream

Well, according to “The Food Lovers Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst, commercial sour cream contains 18 to 20% fat, and has been treated with a lactic acid culture to add its characteristic tang. It is a traditional topping for baked potatoes and may be used as the base for creamy salad dressings and in baking.
Since not being able to make all the wonderful recipes which included sour cream was a really miserable experience, I have decided to try and make my own. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 litre whipping cream
1 small jar of yogurt
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
Combine cream, yogurt and lemon juice in a glass container. Stir well and let stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Refrigerate up to 4 days.

Another great substitute for sour cream is a thicker French version called crème fraîche. “The Food Lovers Companion” describes it as a matured, thickened cream with a slightly tangy, nutty flavour and velvety rich texture. An ideal addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling.

Creme Fraiche
Even though I have never tried it, you can even make your crème fraîche at home. You will need to combine 1 cup of whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand from 8 to 24 hours, oruntil very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.




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