Monday, January 3, 2011


I mentioned Piima in this post, but I thought I'd dedicate a whole post to it, because I like it so much!  The taste is so rich and delicious and the texture is wonderfully creamy.  It's one of my new favorite foods.  Plus, it's good for you.  It has beneficial bacteria (probiotic) that is great for your gut.  You can go here to read a little bit more about cultured dairy products.

I'll let you know how to make your own Piima.  You will need 1 tablespoon of Piima starter culture, 16 ounces of heavy cream, and a clean glass jar.  It would be best to have raw cream, but it's not available in my state.  The next best option is pasteurized heavy cream.  This is surprisingly difficult to find.  Locally, I've only found it at Outpost Natural Foods...even Whole Foods didn't carry any.  Do NOT buy ultra pasteurized heavy cream.  It will not be able to support the culture, plus there are other icky additives in it that you don't want.

First, you have to get your hands on a starter culture.  If you're lucky enough to know someone that has some Piima, all you need is about a tablespoon of their Piima.  If you're not that lucky, I know of 2 places where you can order some.  I got my Piima from Moonwise Herbs when I took a Fermentation for Health class.  You can order some online and it will be shipped to you with instructions on how to make more.  Go here for ordering information.  Another online source is from Cultures for Health.  I don't have any personal experience with their Piima, but I have heard great things about Cultures for Health, and I would order from them.  They have great instructions online, and I'm sure they also come in the package.  Go here for ordering information. They are $12 from both places, but I'm not sure of the shipping charges, so you'd have to look into that yourself.

These are the instructions for the Piima cream that I have from Moonwise Herbs.  The one from Cultures for Health is dried, so I'm not exactly sure how to get it started.  Refer to the instructions provided.

Piima cream, clean empty jar, 16 oz. of heavy cream

Next, add your starter culture to the clean glass jar.  I then add enough heavy cream to cover it and stir it up well.  I've read that you aren't supposed to used any metal utensils with it, but I use a regular spoon, and haven't had any problems. 
Piima cream (starter culture) in jar & 16 oz. of heavy cream
After the Piima starter is mixed well into the heavy cream, I pour the rest in and stir it some more.  Then put a cover on the jar.  I love the plastic covers that you can get for mason jars, but the metal covers are just fine too.  Don't tighten it.  Just place it on top.  You want air to get it, but you don't want bugs or dirt to get in.

The next part was difficult for me the first time.  You leave it out on the counter for 24 hours. don't refrigerate it.  You want the good bacteria in the Piima to multiply and do its thing.

Here's a tip that I learned the hard way.  Piima needs a temperature of 70-78 degrees to culture.  It's winter in Wisconsin and I'm not rich, so my house isn't quite that warm.  The first time I attempted Piima, it didn't thicken like it was supposed to.  It actually didn't get any thicker than the heavy cream because it just wasn't warm enough.  I ended up turning that 'failure' into some delicious cultured butter (and a learning experience).  On my second attempt, I placed the jar in the oven with the light on.  I also turned the oven on for about 5 seconds to get it slightly warmer than our current room temperature.  This trick worked like a charm.  After 24 hours the Piima cream was nice and thick.

After the Piima cultures for 24 hours, you need to refrigerate it.  It will thicken even more.  My Piima is thicker than sour cream.  It's not jiggly at all.  The taste is very similar to sour cream, in my opinion, only slightly more sour.

It should be good for 6 months.  Save a little bit for your next batch.  It could be never ending, as long as you save a bit from your previous batch.  I keep a small 4 ounce mason jar in my freezer just in case something ever happens to my Piima cream and I need a backup starter.  Of course, I could always order a new one if I had to, but I'm cheap.

Now what do you do with all of that Piima cream?  Here are some ideas:
  • Turn it into butter (called cultured butter).  Check out this post on how to make your own butter.  Just add it to your mixer as is.
  • Use it like you would use sour cream.  It's great on baked potatoes.  Or use it in dips.  How about on top of pierogies?
  • Dip fruit in it.
  • Put it in smoothies (recipe to come in another post).
  • Add beneficial bacteria to pasteurized milk (same process as making Piima, only use pasteurized milk instead of heavy cream).  [Also, from my internet researching, it seems that after the Piima is cultured in milk for 24 hours, it is technically Piima yogurt, even though it's much more runny than traditional's more like a drinkable yogurt]  This can then be turned into cream cheese and whey (recipe to follow in another post).
  • Pan-fried brussel sprouts with Piima cream
  • This Piima bread recipe looks interesting.
Those are all of the ideas I have for Piima for now...if I come up with more, I'll come back and update this post.

What are you waiting for?  Go order your culture!  Or, if you know me and live in Milwaukee, I'd be happy to share mine with you!

This post was linked to:  Tuesday Twister and Real Food Wednesday


  1. Thanks for this post! I have been wanting to try Piima cream for quite some time. In Colorado, you can only get raw milk through a cow share (which can be rather expensive) and I can't really afford that cost right now. I have found Vat pasteurized, non-homogenized milk and cream at my local health food store by Kolona Organics - - it's the closest thing I can get to raw right now.

    I think I will get me some culture and start this!

    Thanks again!

  2. I am also in Colorado, and I followed over from Real Food Wednesday. I have been thinking of making Pima, my husband is Finnish and I can get Viila starter from my in-laws. You made up my mind, thanks!

  3. Always interested in cultured/fermented foods! I've made kefer and yogurt and this sounds similar.
    thanks for expanding my knowledge! I'll be trying this out.
    I live in KY and I find it extremely hard to find cream that is not ultra pasturized. I can find milk at whole foods that isn't UP, but cream is hard to find.

    1. Vicki,

      I wonder where in KY you live. I have a friend with cancer who lives in Louisville. I am encouraging her to include fermented foods into her diet as she undergoes chemo. Do you have any kefir or yogurt that you would be willing to share with I can talk her into this?


  4. Adrienne,
    I've been experimenting with yogurt and buttermilk cultures, but thought Piima was too "fussy" to mess with. You've convinced me that I should give it a go! We are in a colder winter climate, too (Ohio) and I love your oven light idea! go on the hunt for non-ultra pasteurized cream and a starter!!
    Enjoyed the post. Thank you!

  5. Are you still offering Piima starter to people in Milwaukee?


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