Cultured dairy products are great for topping chilis and soups, stirring into dips, and adding tanginess to breads and pancakes. They're extremely versatile and often interchangeable, and they contain probiotics that offer a long list of health benefits.
They're also super easy to make at home with just a few basic ingredients. Here's how to make your own buttermilk, sour cream and crème fraîche.
You'll need buttermilk to make both sour cream and crème fraîche, so we'll start there. Buttermilk is just plain, regular milk with an acidic ingredient added to make it ferment.
To make it at home, add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar for each cup of milk and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. When it's slightly thickened, it's ready to use. It won't be quite as thick or tangy as the store-bought kind, but it makes a perfectly fine substitute.
To make sour cream, you just need buttermilk and heavy cream or half and half. Heavy cream will result in a thicker sour cream, so choose based on the texture you're looking for.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of buttermilk per cup of heavy cream or half and half and let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. Don't worry about the cream going bad—the acid in the buttermilk protects against bacteria. It should last about a week in the fridge.
Crème fraîche is considered a "fancy" ingredient, but it's really simple to make. All you need is heavy cream (avoid ultra-pasteurized) and a little buttermilk. Use about a tablespoon of buttermilk per cup of heavy cream, and let the mixture set at room temperature.
Start checking it at 12 hours, but it could take as long as 24 hours to reach the consistency you prefer. When it's done, it should keep in the fridge for about a week, and will get thicker when it's cold.