Non-dairy substitutes for sour cream

Written by rachel aenne
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Non-dairy substitutes for sour cream
Sour cream is used in many dishes. (strawberry in sour cream. image by Yuri Tuchkov from

Avoiding dairy can be challenging, whether you do it for health, nutritional or ethical reasons. Sour cream is a widely-used dairy product made by fermenting regular cream by lactic acid bacteria, which thickens and sours the cream. Sour cream is a common topping for baked potatoes, nachos and burriots, and is used as a base for some salad dressings and dips. It is often an ingredient in cakes, cookies, biscuits, doughnuts and scones, and can be included in desserts with fruits, berries and sugar. Luckily, non-dairy substitutes for sour cream are available.

Homemade Tofu Sour Cream

With a few simple ingredients, you can make a homemade non-dairy sour cream substitute for use in any recipe. Combine 10 ½ ounces of firm silken tofu, one tablespoon oil, two teaspoons lemon juice, two teaspoons apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and one teaspoon of your choice of sweetener in a food processor. Purée until the consistency is smooth. Tofu sour cream can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Homemade Cashew Sour Cream

You can make your own non-dairy sour cream substitute with raw cashews (not roasted or salted). Cover one cup of cashews with water and soak for at least a few hours. Pour off the water. Put the soaked cashews in a food processor, adding 1/4 cup cold water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and the juice of one small lemon. Purée until smooth and creamy. Cashew sour cream can be used in any recipe and can be refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container.

Soy Alternatives

If you are able and willing to eat soy-based products, you can find soy-based sour cream at your local health foods or speciality foods store. Soy sour cream does not have the same texture as dairy sour cream, but the flavour is similar. It can be used as an alternative to dairy sour cream in any recipe. Soy sour cream can also be used to top hot dishes. Be careful, because in labelling terms, "Non-Dairy" means less than 0.5 per cent dairy. Some products labelled non-dairy may actually contain small amounts of dairy.

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