Sour cream straight out of the container isn’t exactly the stuff of TV commercials. When you dig beneath the top layer of liquid to scoop a dollop out of the tub, it usually looks dense, matte, and angular, and while it may taste just fine, the dairy product lacks the smooth glossiness that is its calling card.
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But you needn’t be a food stylist to beautify your sour cream (or yogurt, crème fraîche, crema, or any cultured dairy product, for that matter). To get a picture-perfect dollop, you just need to take one simple step: Give the container a good stir before you scoop. Doing so will incorporate the liquid that settles at the surface or puddles into crevices, making the dairy instantly homogenous, shiny, and creamy.
Here’s why: These cultured dairy products are gels composed of protein strands holding liquid. Undisturbed, the gel is solid-like; stirring it loosens the connections between the protein strands so that the gel becomes fluid and recombines any liquid. That fluid state, however, is only temporary, and the liquid will likely leak out as the gel sits, so for the best results, you should stir the mixture each time you use it.
UNSTIRRED VS. STIRRED
And while you’re already stirring—why not take your sour cream to the next level by adding some flavorings? We like supplementing our sour cream with a touch of maple syrup to compliment the dairy’s tang (a particularly nice compliment for earthy sweet potato soup), or minced fresh garlic and chives for a boost of savoriness.