Sour Cream and yogurt are both cultured dairy products, so are they the same thing?
The Short Answer
No, Yogurt and Sour Cream are two completely different products.
The Long Answer
While you might look at plain yogurt and sour cream as “basically the same thing” you would be completely wrong in your assessment. These two cultured dairy products are completely different from one another and only have a general base in common.
Take sour cream for example. It’s a versatile product that goes on everything from tacos to baked potatoes. Sour cream adds that extra special savory creaminess to almost any meal. But how is it made? By coagulating the enzymes rennet or a rennet substitute. After a few weeks, hardly any microflora are left within the mixture. Pre-industrial sour cream was made by leaving cream out in a container to ferment.
The cream part is important. Cream is the fat that naturally rises to the top of full milk. So, while cream and milk both come from a cow, the percentage of butterfat contained within is what really sets them apart as two separate products.
Why is that relevant? Well, as you just learned, sour cream is made by fermenting cream. Yogurt, on the other hand, is created by fermenting milk. Before the age of industrialization, yogurt was created by leaving a bowl of milk in a container for long periods of time.
In yogurt, bacteria produce acid and curdles the milk itself; not the coagulating enzyme. That makes it different from rennet related products like sour cream.
Sour cream and yogurt are as different from one another as cream and milk. Sour cream has a far higher concentration of milk fat as opposed to its leaner distant cousin, yogurt.
A lot of this confusion stems from the fact that non-fat sour cream and plain yogurt taste strikingly similar. But don’t be fooled. They are most assuredly not the same thing.
What’s your favorite dish to add sour cream to? What kind of yogurt do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!