Despite the apparent differences in the appearance and texture, sour cream is actually quite similar to cultured buttermilk in several respects (Figure 4-7).The sour cream culture, for example, is the same as that used for butter-milk.The incubation conditions and the flavor compounds produced by the culture are also similar for both products. There are, however, several notable differences. For sour cream manufacture, cream (containing varying levels of milkfat) is used instead of lowfat or skim milk.The cream is pasteurized, but not quite at the severe conditions used for buttermilk or yo-gurt.This is because for sour cream, denatura-tion of protein is not as crucial, since the milk fat will impart the desired creaminess, thickness, and body. The cream is homogenized, which also promotes a desirable heavy body.
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