A rich, tangy cultured cream product, crème fraîche is most similar to American sour cream. It is not routinely stocked at the regular grocery store, so it’s a great idea to learn how to make creme fraiche at home for when you need it.
Advantages of Using Creme Fraiche
Aside from the flavor, which is lovely, there are other advantages to using creme fraiche over sour cream:
- It doesn’t break (or curdle) when boiled
- you can whip it just like you can whip heavy cream
- It doesn’t contain any gums or thickeners. Sour cream can contain modified food starch, locust bean gum, guar gum, etc.
How to Make It
You can use real crème fraîche if you can find it at a specialty store, but it’s pretty expensive. Make a reasonable and very tasty substitute by combining cream and buttermilk. Here’s the formula:
8 oz heavy cream: use heavy cream here, not just whipping cream. You want all that butterfat so your creme fraiche will be nic and rich and thick
1 oz buttermilk: I use whole buttermilk, but you can also use lowfat/notfat buttermilk if that is all you have
You’ll have better results if you can find cream that is not ultra-high pasteurized (UHP), but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t find it. Just something to look for, most likely at natural food stores.
- In a clean container, whisk cream and buttermilk together thoroughly.
- Cover, and let sit out for a few hours in a warm place until it has thickened somewhat
Speed the process up by placing in a warm place. In the restaurant, we’d put the containers on top of the ovens.
Scale this recipe up as needed, keeping the same proportions. By volume, you want 2 tablespoons of buttermilk for each cup of heavy cream. I’ve made batches using up to 12 quarts of cream, so don’t hesitate to up the recipe if you need to.
This could take up to 36 hours. You will know it is ready when your shake the container and the contents sort of shimmy rather than ripple. Refrigerate. Your creme fraiche will continue to thicken in the fridge. It should taste somewhat tangy and nutty.
- whip it with some sugar (white, 10x or brown) a wee pinch of salt and flavorings (or you can make it savory by adding salt and herbs/spices). When you whip it, it will thin out considerably and then whip up like whipping cream, so don’t despair if you think it’s not going well. Need only a small amount? Read my post on how to whip cream by hand
- use it in place of sour cream in recipes. Creme fraiche is great because, unlike sour cream, it doesn’t curdle if it comes to a boil. Some suggestions: use it as the topping for my chocolate cheesecake pie or stir some into this comforting hamburger macaroni casserole supreme.
- substitute it for buttermilk, cream or sour cream in baking recipes. When subbing for heavy cream in baking recipes, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of creme fraiche to neutralize the acid in the creme fraiche and keep the recipe balanced.
- Mix it into cream soups and sauces. This creamy pasta sauce would be even more fabulous with a shot of creme fraiche in it.
- Use it as the base for creamy dips or salad dressing
- Whip it half and half with heavy cream to impart a subtle tang to your topping.
Crème fraîche is great for quenelling as a garnish for anything that you’d use whipped cream on. It is a bit more sophisticated and complex a flavor than whipped cream (which is yummy as well, and will certainly do in a pinch).
Questions and Answers
Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Even though the acid in the creme fraiche will inhibit spoiling/bacterial growth, food safety is something you don’t want to play fast and loose with. I generally try to only make what I know I will use in a week.
Yes. Even if it is super thick, once you start whipping, it will thin out some and then thicken back up. You can whip it straight up or mix it with heavy cream for a more subtle tang. It will also increase in volume just like heavy cream, so 1 cup of creme fraiche will whip up into about 2 cups of rich, whipped goodness.
Absolutely. I used to make it with 12 quarts of heavy cream at the restaurant! Just remember the ratio: 8 oz heavy cream to 1 oz buttermilk and do the math. For example, to make 3 times as much, you’d use 24 oz heavy cream (8×3) and 3 oz buttermilk (1×3).
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A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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- 8 oz (1 cup) heavy cream
- 1 oz (2 Tablespoons) buttermilk (full fat preferred)
- In a clean container, combine the cream and buttermilk.
- Stir very well.
- Cover the container and let sit out in a warm place until thickened, about 24-36 hours.
- Refrigerate. The cream will continue to thicken as it chills.
Storing: Use within 2 weeks. Although the acid in the creme fraiche will inhibit bacterial growth, you do not want to play around with food safety.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 101Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 34mgSodium 8mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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