Why Genuine, Local Sour Cream Beats the Pants Off Commercial Versions

Straus Creamery is one of the main local organic dairies in my area and they've recently released a delicious sour cream that has me over the moon. Creamy, rich and tangy, it has put sour cream, a product I haven't used in a long time, back in my good graces. Why was sour cream off my shopping list for so many years? Read on for a list of what's usually in the commercial brands of sour cream to see where things begin to go wrong.

Most large dairy companies that sell nationwide have to add a lot of stabilizers and preservatives to their products to keep them 'fresh' while being shipped and stored on the shelf of your local supermarket. This means that your average sour cream label can look like this:

Grade A Cultured Cream, Milk, Food Starch-modified, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum, Sodium Citrate, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Potassium Sorbate, Enzymes.
Ugh.

By contrast, Straus sour cream is made with organic milk and cream, plus enzymes. That's it! It is made in small batches, using a traditional slow culture process that takes 16 hours. You can buy either full fat or low fat versions (I prefer full fat) and best of all, it doesn't break when heated, so it's a great addition to stroganoff or paprikash.

Commercial sour creams also lack a certain depth of flavor. They often taste flat and greasy to me. In comparison, the Straus product is velvety and rich, with a tangy sweetness that allows the complexity of the milk and cream to come through. It's like the difference between velvet that is made with polyester (commercial) and velvet that is made with silk (Straus).

I know this is a product local to the Bay Area but I'm bringing it up today to encourage you to seek out local organic (or nearly organic) dairies in your region. There are many sources for helping you find them, starting with a simple Google search. You can also ask around at your local famers' market or visit a local coop if you have one.

• This list from Eatwild features dozens of smaller dairies all over the US and this list from Cornucopia also rates dairies.

Straus Sour Cream can be found in many grocery stores in the Bay Area. A delicious recipe for panna cotta using Straus Sour Cream can be found here.

Have you tried this sour cream? Got another great sour cream to recommend?

Related: Help! What to Do with Left Over Sour Cream?

(Image: Straus Family Creamery)