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Make Your Own: Crème Fraîche

22-Feb-2011

 

Ginger-Carrot Soup

 

The first time or two I needed crème fraîche for a recipe I substituted sour cream.  It’s basically the same thing, but there are subtle differences.  Eventually I wanted the real deal.  At the time,  I couldn’t find it in any of  the local grocery stores, so decided to make my own. 

At some point crème fraîche became readily available in local stores.  I tried it a time or two but preferred what I’d been making over the commercial version.  Now, the only time I use commercial crème fraîche is if I forget to mix up a batch a few days before I need it. That’s the one disadvantage to making your own;  you have to plan ahead.  But if you have time, making your own crème fraîche offers a few advantages over purchasing ready-made.

First, crème fraîche is so easy to make that you won’t believe it – but there is one thing that makes some people a little squeamish.  We’ll talk more about that in a minute. Homemade is more crème fraîche-y than what you can purchase.  Okay, that’s probably not a real term, but when you make your own it’s a little more tangy and a little softer and creamier, which are two of crème fraîche’s best characteristics. 

It’s less expensive to make your own and it’s a good way to use leftover whipping cream.   I often buy Costco’s 1/2 gallon of whip cream for various recipes or for parties.  It’s a beautiful heavy, rich whip cream and at Costco prices buying 1/2 gallon can be more cost-effective than buying a smaller amount from the grocery store.  But there’s generally quite a bit leftover and making crème fraîche is one way of putting it to good use. 

And did I mention that making your own is very easy? 

 

Ingredients to make your own crème  fraîche

 

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Mix together.  That’s it. 

 

Mixing the ingredients

 

Well, there is one last step that’s hard for some people.  

Put the mixture in a covered container and let it sit on your countertop at room temperature for two to three days until it thickens.  Yes, leave a dairy product at room temperature for two or three days.  It will be fine.  We are a society that values and idolizes refrigeration.  We are a very careful society.  But sometimes our care is a little misplaced.  In order for the cultures that thicken the cream to develop they need a little warmth, but not so much heat that it kills them.  So the countertop is the perfect place for the cultures to grow. It’s warm and cozy.  And it really won’t hurt you. 

Once the mixture is thick, store it in the refrigerator.  The amount of time it will stay good varies, depending on several factors; like how fresh the cream was to begin with, how often you open the container, how cold your refrigerator is and a few other things.  So you’ll want to check it every few days and toss it at the first sign of mold.  But expect it to last at least a couple of weeks.  Maybe longer. 

Give it a try.  Once you do you’ll be hooked.

In the first photo homemade crème fraîche tops Ginger-Carrot Soup – one of the soups from my recent soup swap!

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