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Have you ever made crème fraîche? If not, you're missing out! It is absolutely wonderful and it is so easy to make at home for a fraction of the cost of buying it. At my local health food store, an 8oz container of crème fraîche is $5.99. At some specialty food shops around town, it's even more expensive!
However, I can buy a quart of high-quality cream (the best I can get since I can't get raw) for $5.99. I use the Kolona SuperNatural brand of dairy products because they are grass-fed and VAT pasteurized. So, I can save myself $18 and get four times as much crème fraîche. What's not to love?
What is Crème Fraîche?
Crème fraîche is soured cream that traditionally contains about 28% butterfat and has a pH around 4.5. It is less sour than sour cream. It's not quite as thick as some sour creams and has a much higher fat content. In countries like France, Belgium, Romania, Lithuania, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands, it's a traditional part of their diet. It has gained popularity and availability since the 1990s.
Historically, crème fraîche is believed to have originated in Normandy, where:
“the crème fraîche from a defined area around the town of Isigny-sur-Mer in the Calvados department of Normandy is highly regarded, and is the only cream to have AOC (‘Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée') status, which was awarded in 1986. However, it is now produced in many other parts of France, with large quantities coming from the major dairy regions of Brittany, Poitou-Charente, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne. In parts of North Wales Creme Fraiche is also known as Croghurt.”
Because of the high fat content, it's perfect to use in heated dishes, because it won't curdle. It is delicious in sweet and savory dishes alike. I use it just like I would sour cream. My favorite way to eat it is probably dolloped on fresh or frozen fruit for a quick and healthy dessert or snack. In the picture above, I have a dollop of it on frozen blueberries and peaches with just a few drops of vanilla creme stevia. YUMMMO! Crème fraîche is so easy to make that I know you won't go back to store bought once you've tried it!
Homemade Crème Fraîche Recipe
makes 1 quart, but can be halved or quartered if needed
- 1 quart of high-quality cream – Raw is best, but pasteurized is fine (not ultra-pasteurized). If you have access to a company who uses VAT pasteurization, that is going to be your best bet if you can't get raw.
- 4-5 tbsp. milk kefir, buttermilk, or sour cream
Traditional recipes for crème fraîche will call for buttermilk, but kefir can also be used. Since I make homemade kefir, I just use that. I have also heard about people using their kefir grains in the heavy cream and making it that way. I have not tried that yet. If you don't have milk kefir or buttermilk, you can use sour cream, as long as it has live cultures in it.
Also, some recipes for homemade crème fraîche will tell you to lightly heat the cream before adding the the buttermilk, but I never do that, and it is not necessary to do so.
So, here's what you do — did I mention this is easy?
- Get a very clean glass bowl or jar (you can sterilize in boiling water if you want to be extra safe).
- Pour the cream into the bowl or jar. If you did sterilize it, make sure it has cooled before adding the ingredients.
- Add the milk kefir, buttermilk, or sour cream.
- Stir well, using a plastic or wooden spoon (metal reacts with the kefir).
- Cover with a coffee filter or a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 12-72 hours, or until it thickens to a consistency that you like. The amount of time will depend on how warm your house is and how quickly the good bacteria go to work. My batches typically take 24-36 hours, but I know people who have let it go for a full 3 days with great results.
- Move to the fridge. It will continue to thicken in the fridge.
- Enjoy. It should last a few weeks in the fridge, if not longer. But, I bet you won't be able to keep your hands off of it long enough for it to go bad!
I told you this was easy! 🙂
- “Crème fraiche“, Wikipedia.