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We bought Hoosier Hill powdered sour cream for our COVID-19 food supply. That was a mistake

I haven’t been to a store in two months. And while my family is far from starving, there are some staples we’ve been missing, like sour cream.

Last week, my wife was desperate enough for sour cream that she was threatening to go into a germ-ridden store to obtain some. I did the only thing I knew to do: go to Amazon and see if they sold sour cream powder or something like it.

I instantly found Hoosier Hill Farm Sour Cream Powder. There were plenty of other sour cream seasoning powders on Amazon, but this was the only one I saw that promised real sour cream. It had just a few ingredients: Sour cream powder, (cream, cultures, and lactic acid), cultured nonfat milk solids, and citric acid. It promised “no hormones.” I sent Jeff Bezos $13.85 of my own money. Roughly a week later, the sour cream powder was at my door to be disinfected.

Why would I buy powdered sour cream?

Sour cream isn’t a must-have like water, but it is a kitchen staple that can add a little something extra to many dishes, like baked potatoes and chili. It’s also a common ingredient in many recipes. But if you’re avoiding stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to obtain since it’s a fresh dairy product. Powdered sour cream, which you can buy online, have shipped to your door, and reconstitute with water, might be a tempting option.

The mixing process

The instructions are simple enough. Mix three parts water with five parts sour cream powder. Then, Hoosier Farms says in the product description, “Sour Cream Powder can be used in practically anything you can think of as a replacement for the refrigerated version; Create dips, sauces, potatoes, cakes, muffins, spreads, and casseroles – you name it- with sour cream powder.”

Sounds easy, right? My wife’s first try was a watery solution. It looked like someone had sprinkled baby powder in creek water.

I got another bowl out and followed the instructions, adding three parts of water to 5 parts of sour cream powder. I mixed, and I mixed. And got the same dirty chalk water my wife did. Undeterred, I vowed to add more and more powder until I got something resembling sour cream.

As I had to add several scoops of this wretched powder to the bowl, I should comment on the smell, which I’d liken to a tub of drywall spackle. One Amazon reviewer said that “it smelled like glue or something.” I was ready for this, but I was also determined to power through.

Several scoops and the introduction of a whisk later, I was rewarded with something that resembled sour cream. My hopes rose—perhaps I had successfully reconstituted this chalky powder into sour cream? I took a taste.

Powdered sour cream mixed as best as I can.

No, the powdered version did not taste like sour cream at all. Imagine the taste of vomit, only somehow worse, both more sour and more bitter.

Worse than the flavor was the texture. Despite hitting the mixture with a stick blender and a whisk, it was gritty despite the smooth look of the cream. Later, for quality assurance, I tried another batch.

The trick to the texture appears to be in abandoning the package’s instructions. When I whisked a 1:1 ratio of powder to water, the texture turned out best. This produced a cream that was not quite but almost entirely like store-bought sour cream. The taste, however, was so awful that there’s no point in bothering.

Troubleshooting the taste of Hoosier Hill’s sour cream

One Amazon reviewer said it “It tastes like chalk board dust mixed with pet dander, and finishes with an indescribably chemical after taste. Wow that was horrible.” I agree with that review.

I racked my brain to figure out what the problem is. This powdered sour cream has four out of five stars on Amazon, and most reviews are, indeed, positive. Could it be user error? Did it spoil somehow, despite being well within its use-by date?

An Amazon reviewer's suggestion to not use water.

Amazon reviewer B. Anna suggests to not make it with water but doesn’t mention what she uses instead. Milk? Goat blood? Motor oil? One reviewer mentioned mixing it with yogurt, but I’m not going to ruin perfectly good yogurt that way.

Final verdict: Hoosier Hills sour cream is not worth it

Ultimately, I decided not to bother polishing this particular turd. I don’t think anything could counteract the nigh-indescribably awful flavor, even if you could somehow improve the texture.

Proceed with Caution
Hoosier HIll Sour Cream

Hoosier HIll Sour Cream

We didn’t have much success with this product, but if sour cream is essential to your prep, you could give it a try.

As for whether it was user error or a spoiled batch: if I’m able to screw it up that badly or if there’s a better than average chance of a semi-nonperishable spoiling before it gets to my door, then there’s no way I can recommend a product like this.

No stars. To paraphrase Monty Python, this is a tin with a message in it and the message is: Beware, this is not a powder for eating, this is a powder for laying down and avoiding.

The good news is that it’s easy to make your own sour cream, at least in theory. All you need is some raw milk, cream, and white vinegar or lemon juice. We buy raw milk from a microfarm, so we don’t have to deal with the risks of stores. My wife mixed up a batch and we gave time for it to set. Unfortunately, all we wound up with is lemon-flavored milk.

Failed homemade sour cream

If you’d like to try it yourself, and hopefully have better luck than we did, here’s a video that shows the process.


    • squidvicious

      Ha ha! Thank you for your troubles!  I am entirely comfortable never trying this now  : )

      14 |
    • lemur

      I bought a pack of canned mac & cheese once for the emergency stock. That was a mistake too. I ate the content of one can, threw away the other cans. I have a rather strong aversion to wasting food, but that was just too vile. I’m pretty sure coprophages won’t touch the thing. They have standards, after all.

      6 |
      • Josh CentersContributor lemur

        Thanks for the report. I’ll have a bit more to say about mac and cheese soon.

        7 |
    • River

      Good to know. Curious – do you think you could bake or cook with it?

      10 |
      • Josh CentersContributor River

        I wouldn’t want to ruin a dish by putting this vile powder in it.

        8 |
      • River Josh Centers

        What a bummer! Again, thanks for the review I had wondered about this product a couple of weeks ago.

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    • PACNWPrepared

      I apparently get 1-2 containers of sour cream with every grocery delivery. I need to do a better job checking before ordering…because I now have 5 containers in our fridge. Too bad it also doesn’t freeze well.

      8 |
    • Mary M

      If you really want to make sour cream, you’ll have better success using a kefir starter. Commercial sour cream is basically the high fat version of buttermilk. And kefir is just the Whole Foods version of buttermilk.

      All of these cousin cultures are dead simple to make. You don’t need a yogurt maker. You just need a warm room.

      Actually, you don’t even need starter. Just use some commercial buttermilk or some kefir from your last batch. I’m just suggesting starter, since you can keep it in the fridge until needed.

      I keep shelf stable milk in the pantry specifically for making kefir. No need to sterilize it. Just warm it up, inoculate, and wait a day.

      Personally, I’ve never had much luck culturing raw milk, particularly without a starter. If it doesn’t have the right organisms in it to begin with, you’ll just end up with a watery mess.

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      • Josh CentersContributor Mary M

        Thanks for the tip. Could you use a yogurt starter? My wife just made one the other day.

        6 |
      • Mary M Josh Centers

        Yogurt is really closely related to kefir/sour cream. But I find the taste a bit more acidic. High fat yogurt is absolutely delicious, however, and close enough to sour cream to use in most contexts.

        4 |
      • Nomore Mary M

        I wonder if the yogurt setting on an Instant-Pot would be helpful in making sour cream? Most Instant-Pots or similar multi-cookers come with a yogurt making setting.

        If you have a whole fat yogurt on hand you can make a cream cheese out of it (there are very fine mesh plastic filter funnels out there just for this purpose) that strain out the excess water / liquid whey. A store bought plain whole milk or plain Greek yogurt works to make yogurt cream cheese, I would think home-made high fat yogurt would make excellent & tasty yogurt cream cheese (no additives)

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      • Mary M Nomore

        Yogurt cultures at a higher temperature (110 F or thereabouts) than kefir/ buttermilk/sour cream. You’re likely to kill your culture in an instant pot.

        A warm room really works. It may take a couple of days, but it’ll get there.

        7 |
    • Nomore

      Oh dear, this is disappointing news. I usually have quite good luck with HHF stuff.

      Hoosier Hill Farms Cream Cheese Powder is pretty good though I add less water to it than recommended for a thicker cream cheese (you add a little water, mix, add a little more, mix again etc until you get the consistency you are after). When combined with a dried veggie / veggie soup mix of your choosing & something like vegetable flavor Better Than Boullion it makes a pretty tasty veggie cream cheese for spreading on bagels, bread, etc. Once made the reconstituted cream cheese refrigerates well though it tastes okay when made with room temperature water (just weird that way because you usually expect cream cheese for a spread to be fridge cold)!

      Also the Hoosier Hill Farms Heavy Cream powder is good but it needs to be vigorously whisked or blended with a blender to get the consistency right otherwise it too will seem runny. It’s definitely creamier & richer than either powdered non-fat dry milk or powdered whole milk. The non-fat is the most common powdered milk version out there (food pantries that get USDA commodities stock non-fat powdered milk), powdered whole milk is a little harder to find (go online for it, you’re unlikely to get it at a big box discounter or most supermarkets)

      I’m known to mix the HHF products I have used with success with boullions or stocks of various flavors (veggie, mushroom, tomato, chicken, beef, ham, pork, etc). There are a lot of one dish / casserole type recipes which benefit from using something besides just reconstituted add water milk or cream (and you can lower the fat content in your Thanksgiving or Christmas home-made mashed potatoes by using a flavored boullion or stock instead of cream or milk when you mash the potatoes, I usually use chicken or veggie, but experiment around to find what you prefer

      I know one of the Mennonite grocery stores close-ish to me sells an excellent mix for sour cream & chive/onion dip mix (will look up the brand for those interested, all their dip mixes I have tried have been pretty tasty), I would presume they also regularly stock & sell a sour cream powder though I don’t know what brand it is (it’s sold like bulk food, pre-packed in plain plastic containers of varying sizes & weights). Next time I’m in there, I will ask what brand sour cream powder they carry. This discount grocery store (part salvage store & part bulk foods as well as a bit of fresh & frozen stuff) has a very solid Old Order Mennonite customer base, these people are very clever & frugal foodies, so anything as bad as your HHF sour cream trial would *never* be tolerated by them.

      Most Old Order Anabaptists (Amish Mennonite) make A LOT of their foods from scratch (I love their basic cookbooks, they are geniuses at making substitutions as well as not beholden to brands or ultra processed foods), they keep deep home / farmstead pantries as a way of life like Mormons & LDS church members but because they live more grid-free, they are far more dependent on staples like powdered dairy products & powdered eggs than the Mormon & LDS communities who do not eschew grid connected electricity, etc. I would presume they also either make or buy a lot of their own dried & canned etc foods & so if they were to recommend a given powdered food (or warn me off of it), I’d follow their recommendation to the letter.

      4 |
      • Josh CentersContributor Nomore

        I have heard good things about the Hoosier Hill heavy cream, so I *may* give it a chance. I’ve been trying a lot of powdered foods for an upcoming guide, and the powdered milk isn’t too bad. We have a Mennonite community near us, and I haven’t heard about them using many powdered eggs. They seem to have plenty of the fresh kind.

        4 |
    • Not Here

      Ive worked in a commercial kitchen 26 years and thought this might be handy for some of our sauces or dips. I wish Id researched it before purchasing. my experience was identical. never in my life have i tasted anything so awful and thats no exaggeration. Its so disgusting its difficult to put into words just how gross this tastes. I couldnt even swallow it. The taste made me immediately spit it out and run for mouthwash to try to save what taste buds werent annihilated by this completely useless trash. The texture is almost as bad. Very gritty. It went straight into the trash and amazon refunded me. 

      5 |
      • Josh CentersContributor Not Here

        Thanks for the report and verification. This stuff is truly heinous. Alaska Prepper reviewed it and had the same reaction we did.

        5 |
      • Tfal Prack2008 Josh Centers

        Ill take a look. On a more positive side, EVERYTHING ive used from Augason has been perfect. Especially the veggies.they even still have some “crisp” in them after rehydration. gotta buy em at the right times though, on amazon auguson frequently drops to under half price. Even the milk sub (though not entirely made of milk) tastes EXACTLY like fresh milk, not like typical powdered milk.

        Edited for spelling error.

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