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11 August 2011

Homemade sour cream and chilli jam

A couple of days ago I made a batch of cultured cream and some chilli jam and Eclair asked if I would write more about them. We have quite a bit of fermented dairy here and I home-make yoghurt, cultured sour cream, fresh cheese, and sometimes hard cheese. I will be making cheddar when I get fresh milk and the spare time. If you've never tasted fermented foods before, you're in for a real treat. Not only are they delicious, but they contain probiotics and will do you the world of good.

I live in a very good dairy area so I couldn't go past our local Guernsey cream from Maleny Dairies. It's a soft yellow colour and sometimes it's so think, you can stand your spoon up in it. Good sour cream starts with good fresh cream. It must be pure cream, not cream thickened with gelatin. There is absolutely no hidden secret to making it - it's a mixture of cream, heat and the right bacteria. You will find that bacteria either in commercial cultured sour cream or buttermilk, or in a starter that you can buy online. I do both. I buy starters, and have them in the freezer, but I generally make small batches and make the new batch with some of the old batch. When I want a break, or there is no old batch, I use a starter. You can use the same starter to make cultured butter milk. There are details on where to buy them below, with links.

  1. Put 500 mls/17oz pure fresh cream in a saucepan and heat to 30C/86F. Take the cream off the heat and stir in half a starter pack (or whatever the instructions for your starter say). Usually it's a sachet to one litre/quart but I only make up half that amount at a time; the leftover half sachet can be refrozen.
  2. Pour the warm cream into a pre-sterilised warm preserving/canning jar and put the lid on. I then wrap the jar in a fleece and a towel and leave it on a warmish bench or in a warmish oven, overnight. The next day it is ready. Instead of using towels to keep it warm, you can also make it in a yoghurt maker, slow cooker or Thermos. The cream will continue to develop in flavour while it is stored in the fridge and will keep for two weeks, easily.
If you use commerical sour cream as the starter, you still need to warm it up to 30C/86F, remove from the heat, add ½ cup of sour cream and mix it well. Place it in a sterile warm jar and keep it warmish for 24 hours.

  • If the fresh cream you buy is very thin, add ½ cup powered milk to it and mix it in when it's warming in the saucepan. That will give you thick sour cream.
  • If you beat this sour cream, it will make cultured butter.
  • It's not cheaper to make sour cream (or butter) like this but it tastes MUCH better and you know what's in it. Often commercial sour cream contains stabilisers.
  • You can make cream sour by adding lemon juice or white vinegar to it, but cultured sour cream is either made this way - with a starter, or by using raw milk and cream that is left unrefrigerated till it goes sour naturally. 
  • If you leave pasteurised cream or milk out, they will go bad because all the good bacteria have been removed. Raw milk will turn sour - not bad - and it's perfectly fine to drink. 
In Australia, you can buy these starters online from Country Brewer (cheaper) and Green Living. In other countries, Google "sour cream starter" and choose one from your country.

I have been trying to replicate the delicious Maleny Clean Cuisine Chilli Jam that I buy for $5.95 a jar.  This is my first attempt. It's useable but it needs refining. I'll do another post about making chilli jam when I've got it to the stage I want it. That will take some time because I have to get through the two small jars I have here - I gave one to Sunny - before I start a new batch. What I made this time is more a sweet chilli sauce, rather than a thick jam.

This sauce is made up of:
  • 1½ cups good vinegar - any type
  • ½ brown sugar
  • ½ white sugar
  • 10 cayenne chillis, sliced finely
  • ¼ cup of dried chilli flakes and seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely crushed
  • 1 pack pectin, about two tablespoons
It's all placed in a saucepan, boiled, then simmered for 15 minutes. 

It is much too hot for my taste, but I'll be able to use it in cooking. Next time I'll halve the chilli portions, add mustard seeds and water, and a bit of fish sauce. I don't want any tomatoes or other vegetables or fruit in it. It needs to be red, but almost transparent; not opaque as it would be if it had tomato or sweet peppers in it. What I'm after is a thick, but runny, jam consistency. I'll get there, like many things, it just takes time. This is the opposite of fast food.


  1. Great post Rhonda, very informative...You will get there with the Chilli will be worth it when you get the flavour you are after....but I like that you are using this one in your cooking until then...nothing wasted...I like it!

  2. Rhonda,
    We have something here called pepper jelly.
    Here's a recipe I got for it.

    6 Scotch Bonnet peppers
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    5 cups granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    chili powder or flakes
    1 ounce powdered pectin, or 6 ounces liquid pectin

    If you prefer a mind-numbingly sweet jelly, add another half or three quarters of a cup of sugar.
    Wash the peppers and remove the seeds. Slice them into very fine strips. Add the lemon juice and cider vinegar. Add this to a pot and mix in the sugar and salt whilst heating. The chili powder or flakes may be added but really the Caribbean peppers have enough zing to them already. The flakes look nice though :)
    Stir steadily, but not vigorously, until it comes to a full rolling boil. Remove from the heat, and add the pectin (whichever form you managed to find).
    Return to the heat, high for just over a minute, and then lowish for about five to seven minutes. Skim the foam.
    Fill the jam jars leaving a half- to three-quarter-inch space from the top. Cover tightly and let cool. Refrigerate when the jelly is set.

    Trinidad & Tobago

  3. Looks interesting- how do you use chilli jam? I am not familiar with it- but I love spicy food. I feel I may be missing out on something! :)

  4. I have been making Annabel Langbein's chilli jam for quite some time. It has the consistency you describe and it is not too hot. Very simple to make too. I usually triple or quadruple her recipe depending on how many chillies we have. My family love it and we use it on everything. It is beautiful as a coating for chicken. It has ginger as well as garlic and lime zest. The recipe can be found at her website.

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    My Nana used to make a wonderful Chilli Relish, I still make it today, as does my mum and aunts and uncles.
    We don't want you to give up jam making all together so here's another recipe to try.

    6 long Red Chillies

    4 Large green apples

    3 cups Sugar

    1.5 cups white Vinegar

    Deseed and chop chillies. If you like some bite in your relish leave some of the seeds in.
    Peel core and chop apples.
    Put all ingredients into a lge pot and simmer stirring occassionally until the relish is set using the cold plate testing method. The relish will darken and thicken the longer it is cooked.


  6. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for these recipes, I'll definitely make the sour cream and I'll make the chilli jam for my son who loves anything hot. Your instructions are always SO clear and concise. Can't wait for the book!

  7. Thanks for the info on sour cream . I have never thought to make it because we don't use it much but I know I would if I did make some. When the cow calves I will give it a go I think.

  8. Thanks for the recipes!

    Ann, I had seen Annabel's recipe but I couldn't work out how it would thicken using those ingredients. How thick is it?

    Kate, you could just leave the raw cream out until it clabbers and you'd have your sour cream. I use mine mostly in cakes, pikelets, tacos and beef stroganoff.

  9. Thank you for sharing these great recipes. Hopefully I can do justice to the Chilli Jam.

  10. The basic jam idea is a pectin source and lots of sugar simmered till it reaches setting point. Then you can add whatever flavourings you want. Lemons are a great pectin source and they're in season. We've only got a few chilis still on now - I made my chili jam a couple of months ago now. This is my recipe. I make a few dozen jars a year, for us and for giving away. It's one of the relatively few preserves I bother with.

  11. Thanks Linda, your recipe makes sense to me, I'll try it.

  12. Another recipe to add to the list. Thanks Rhonda. My daughter eats hot raw chillies so she'd love this as a gift.

  13. Thankyou everyone, I just posted this week about our abundance ifchilis and what ti do with I know!! Off to make some chili jam

  14. OMG I use chill jam in almost all of my tea recipes!! I adore it. Thankyou i am certainly going to make some...even this afternoon perhaps.

  15. Thank you for the sour cream recipe Rhonda. It is hard for me to believe that it is that simple to make, or that I can use regular store bought and pasteurised ingredients, but this sparks my inner scientist even more. I will try it for sure.

  16. Rhonda - Annabel's recipe does thicken up though I did cook it for longer than she suggested but I was making a bigger batch. It did turn out very much like a jam that you dollop onto meat with a spoon. It bubbled up as jam does when cooking and reduced. My husband actually prefers it more like a sauce with a pourable consistency so if it doesn't thicken as much as I would like he is still happy!

  17. Question? Can you buy raw milk straight from the dairies there? Or in the grocery store? I've got to make my own sour cream, but buying raw milk here is a tricky proposition. Your sour cream looks so good!

    I have finally gathered up enough bottles to do the ginger beer! I did get a good batch of vinegar too. I love your blog! :)

  18. Gayle, as in most western countries, it's illegal to buy raw milk here, although sometimes you can get it straight from a dairy. You can also buy here milk called Cleopatra milk that is raw, but not intended for human consumption. It's for skin care or pets. Naturally many people buy that. However, I used pasteurised cream to make my sour cream. It was local Guernsey cream sold at the supermarket. As long as the cream is pure and contains no gelatine, it's fine to use.

  19. Rhonda,
    Your chili jam looks delicious and I love the vibrant color! Wow!
    You post got me thinking about a jalapeno jelly a favorite restraurant of our's serves and now I want to experiment. The jelly has the flavor of the jalapenos, but not the heat (removing the seeds and the rib inside the pepper seems to tone it down), and they dizzle it over homemade sweet potato chips and bleu cheese crumbles. So good!
    I never though about making my own sour cream, but I may have to give that a go as well.
    Thanks for the inspirations!

  20. Hi Rhonda. I just made chilli jam from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. It is not really jam. It is jelly. It has set quite firm but is very clear and tastes just beautiful. Was very quick and easy to make and is not too hot.

    I love chilli jam on grilled snags for breakfast!

  21. Thanks Rhonda! I'm always very curious about how things are done in other countries! I make a red pepper jam that is close to your recipe, we serve it over cream cheese with crackers.

  22. I seldom drop responses, however i did a few searching and wound up
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  23. I know this is a really old post, but I just read it, looking for a chili jam recipe. In the ingredients is the sugar 1/2 cup or something else? Thanks!


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