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How to Make and Use Creme Fraiche

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Creme fraiche is a richly smooth, lightly sour cultured cream used in both sweet and savory recipes. It has a consistency like a silky version of sour cream, but with a slightly less sour taste. Once cultured, creme fraiche will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Creme fraiche is super easy to make and requires no special equipment. Although you'll need to wait 8-24 hours for the creme fraiche to thicken, the active time in the kitchen is less than a minute.

Prep Time: 1 minute

Culturing time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours, 1 minute

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preparation:

In France, where creme fraiche originated, cream from unpasteurized milk is used to make this rich topping and sauce ingredient. The raw cream contains all the healthful bacteria necessary to culture it into creme fraiche. If you are working with pasteurized milk (which is the only kind that is sold legally in the U.S.), you will need to add buttermilk in order to culture and thicken the cream.

Combine the room temperature heavy cream with the buttermilk in a clean glass jar. The temperature is important - the healthy buttermilk cultures won't thicken the cream into creme fraiche if the cream is straight-out-of-the-refrigerator cold. If you are in a hurry, you can heat the cream over low heat until it reaches between 70F - 100F/21C - 40C before adding the buttermilk.

Cover the jar and place it in a warm place. An oven with the light on works well for this. Or simply place the jar near, but not directly on, a heat source such as a radiator. Leave undisturbed for 8 - 14 hours.

After 8 - 14 hours the creme fraiche should have thickened to the consistency of thick sour cream. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.

Suggestions for Using Creme Fraiche

  • Spoon a dollop of creme fraiche over berries or other fresh fruit.
  • Whip along with a hint of sugar, honey, or maple syrup and use instead of whipped cream on desserts.
  • When deglazing pan drippings with water, wine, or stock to make gravy, stir in a little creme fraiche. The creme fraiche will not separate when boiled, and makes a luxuriously rich gravy.
  • Mix with powdered sugar for a quick cake or muffin frosting.
  • Use instead of oil when making pesto for a creamy pasta sauce.
  • Thin with a little vinegar and add salt, pepper and savory herbs for a quick salad dressing.
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