Expat Corner

Schmand vs Sour Cream

It’s all the same, right?

One question that I hear from Americans all the time is, “What is sour cream called in Germany?”  If you plug “Sour Cream” into sites like Google Translate, you’ll get “Sauerrahm.”  If you ask a German, they might also say Sauerrahm, but most likely they will say Schmand.

Both are wrong.

First of all, Sauerrahm is a literal translation of Sour Cream.  Sauer = sour.  Rahm = cream.  Which is all translate sites can do, right?  But just because they share a literal translation doesn’t mean they are actually the same thing.  Sauerrahm is also not one specific thing.  It’s an umbrella name for various types of Rahm, inlcuding Schmand. Secondly, Germans use Schmand in similar ways to how we use Sour Cream.  It looks and smells about the same, which is why they usually recommend it.  But, again, it’s not the same thing.

The main difference?  Milkfat.

daisy-sour-cream

American Sour Cream, such as Daisy, is typically made with 18 – 20% milkfat.

Schmand, on the other hand…

Schmand.jpg

can be anywhere from 20 – 29% milkfat.  And therein lies the problem.  This is why Schmand tastes and cooks different.  If you just swap out Schmand for Sour Cream, especially as a topping, in American dishes, you will most likely be disappointed.  (Although, I do know a handful of Americans who like it just fine.)

Making American-style Sour Cream from German Rahm

You’ll just need two things:  Buttermilk and Heavy Cream.  Here’s what you’re looking for in the grocery store:

Buttermilch.jpg

This is your Buttermilk.  It doesn’t have to be this brand, but it needs to say, “Frische Buttermilch” and nothing else.  Germans have more than one kind of Buttermilk.  The other main kind is called Reine Buttermilch, and it looks like this –

reine-buttermilch

Reine Buttermilch is made from sweet cream instead of milk, so it’s a little bit different.  In a pinch, you could absolutely use this.  Just know that it will be a little bit sweeter.  You will see, though, that they both use 1% fat, which is about the same as American buttermilk.  Buttermilch is always in the refrigerated section.

For the Heavy Cream, you need either Schlagsahne or Creme Double.  If you decide to use Schlagsahne, look for one that will get you as close to 36% fat as possible.  For example, this one has 32% –

schlagsahne

Look around at the different brands in your grocery store to see if you can find a higher percentage.  (It’s always written on the front of the package and will use the word “Fett.”)  Sometimes you can find Schwälbchen Schlagsahne in Rewe (you can also order it online), which has 35% fat.  Here’s a picture of that one.  Note the fat percentage at the bottom of the container.  (The abbreviation “mind.” stands for “mindestens,” which means “a minimum of.”)

schwaelbchen-sahne

You can also use Creme Double, but just remember that these usually have a 40% fat content, which is actually a little too high for what you want.  You can try it, though, if you can’t find a good Schlagsahne.

creme double.jpg

Schlagsahne and Creme Double are both kept in the refrigerated areas.

So, once you have everything, here’s what you’ll do –

  1. Measure out 1 cup Schlagsahne OR Creme Double
  2. Measure out 1/4 cup Buttermilch
  3. Put your Schlagsahne OR Creme Double into the container you’re going to store the Sour Cream in
  4. Mix in the Buttermilch
  5. Cover the container
  6. Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours
  7. Put it in the fridge to chill before using

***One note about converting your measurements.  You will see most of these German products described in grams on the packages.  You can’t do a straight conversion of grams to cups because German products are measured by their weight – whereas American products are measured by their volume.  When shopping, I usually average 1500 grams per cup.  That’s actually more than a cup, but this way I don’t end up short.  Then you can refine your exact measurements at home.

So, to answer the question, “What is Sour Cream called in Germany?”

Homemade.

 

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