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When Do You “Sweeten The Sour”?

A traditional Norwegian food, pickled herring uses sweetened sour cream as the cream base for the pickled herring (see photo 1 above). Other than this type of application, I cannot think of another product that uses a sweetened sour cream. This kind of product is not commonly for sale as retail product. Why is that? According to the CFR section 131.160 for the definition of sour cream, it can contain nutritive sweeteners such as sucrose or table sugar. The exact nomenclature is described below:

Sec. 131.160 Sour cream. (a) Description. Sour cream results from the souring, by lactic acid producing bacteria, of pasteurized cream. sour cream contains not less than 18 percent milkfat; except that when the food is characterized by the addition of nutritive sweeteners or bulky flavoring ingredients, the weight of the milkfat is not less than 18 percent of the remainder obtained by subtracting the weight of such optional ingredients from the weight of the food; but in no case does the food contain less than 14.4 percent milkfat. . (b) Optional ingredients. 4) Safe and suitable nutritive sweeteners.(6) Flavoring ingredients, with or without safe and suitable coloring, as follows:(i) Fruit and fruit juice (including concentrated fruit and fruit juice).(ii) Safe and suitable natural and artificial food flavoring.

This leads us to a new product concept that might be worth exploring. With the definition above why can’t some dairy make a sweetened cheesecake topping with some fruit or flavor added to spread on top of a cheesecake or other dessert like pound cake to make an icing “with a twist”! I particularly can’t stand that birthday cake heavy, sugary, pasty white cake icing made with 10X sugar. Kids may like it, but just think of an “adult icing made with sour cream”! Some cheesecake manufacturers put a very thin layer (1/16th to 1/8th of an inch) of sweetened sour cream icing on top of their cheese cakes to “kick them up a notch”. This can round out the fine flavor of the cheesecake. I particularly enjoy this type of icing since I love sour cream. Imagine making a sweetened sour cream with 12% sugar added and flavored with a lemon, key lime, almond, Amaretto or vanilla extract . In my opinion that would make the cheesecake taste much better (and don’t get me wrong plain cheesecake tastes fine all by itself!).

A dairy company looking to expand its product portfolio could sell a ready-made sweetened, flavored cake topping for just such a dessert. People may like it enough to use it on top of pies, cakes, scones, cornbread, etc.! Another possible product would include a fruit flavoring such as mango, orange, pineapple, passion fruit, etc. to give the topping more of a fruit flavor for a stronger flavored icing. Sometimes we need to think outside of the box in order to expand sales of a product like sour cream. The homemaker is probably not making a lot of cheesecakes in the spring or summer, but what about a seasonal product available in the fall and winter? I’m just thinking “out of the box” a little bit! Thanks for reading.