Exquisitely rich and luxuriously smooth, Crème Fraîche (pronounced “krem fresh”) is a thick, cultured cream with a slightly tart, nutty flavor and a lush, creamy texture. It’s easy to make at home with only one step and 2 ingredients.
Crème Fraîche is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. Used in soups, sauces, and baked goods it lends a decadent richness and velvety texture. It can be whipped and sweetened for desserts or on top of fresh fruit.
Crème Fraîche vs. Sour Cream
Crème Fraîche is the French version of sour cream, though richer and slightly less tangy. Both are made from cream, however Crème Fraîche has a higher butterfat content of up to 45% and doesn’t contain any added thickeners. In France, it is made from unpasteurized cream in which friendly bacteria thicken it naturally. Sour cream typically contains about 20% fat and has added ingredients to thicken and stabilize. Because of its higher fat content, Crème Fraîche doesn’t curdle at high temperatures or separate when mixed with acid, making it a good choice for thickening soups and sauces.
To make Crème Fraîche, cultured buttermilk is added to heavy cream and left to rest for about 8-24 hours on the counter, allowing he friendly bacteria in the buttermilk multiply and develop. Don’t worry, the multiplying bacteria prevent the cream from spoiling at room temperature. The cream should be pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized for the best result. Other products can be used as a starter culture such as yogurt and kefir, as long as they have live bacteria in them. I usually use kefir or yogurt because they are staples in my refrigerator.
Three factors that will affect the end result are the amount of starter culture used, the temperature of the room, and how long the culture is left to develop. The starter culture ratio is about one cup of heavy cream to 1-2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Two tablespoons per cup will thicken faster, whereas one tablespoon per cup will be creamier. The temperature of your room will also affect the thickening time; a cooler kitchen will take a little longer than a warmer one. A shorter developing time will result in a thinner Crème Fraîche, and a longer time will result in a thicker one. Check your Crème Fraîche after it has started developing for the taste and thickness you desire.
This method makes a Crème Fraîche very close to the original. For an even closer version, The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company sells a Crème Fraîche starter culture at a very reasonable price.
Why make Crème Fraîche at home?
· Making it at home is more economical as it can cost three to four times as much as sour cream in the supermarket.
· Crème Fraîche isn’t available in every supermarket.
· Save yourself a trip to the store my making it out of ingredients that you already have on hand.
· You can make the amount needed. No need to buy an 8 ounce container if you only need a few spoons.
- 1 cup heavy cream - do not used ultra-pasteurized (8oz, 227g)
- 1-2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk (or other culture starter, see above)
- Combine buttermilk and heavy cream in non-reactive container. A glass jar or bowl is ideal. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature until thickened to desired texture, about 8-24 hours. (see above)
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.