Crème fraîche may sound fancy, but it's really just soured cream. With its roots in France, it was traditionally made by leaving fresh cow's cream at room temperature until it thickened. Today, since our cream is pasteurized (or even ultra-pasteurized), we have to introduce an outside bacterial culture, such as buttermilk or yogurt.
A creamier, milder cousin to U.S. sour cream, the higher-fat cream can really transform a dish. Buying the fresh cream can be a bit expensive, but you wouldn't believe how easy it is to make at home. Here's how:
2 cups pasteurized heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized and with no additives) 2 tbsp cultured buttermilk 1 jar or mixing bowl
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Directions: Pour the heavy cream into a jar or bowl (we like using a mason jar with a cap). Add the buttermilk and stir to combine.
If you are using a jar with a cap, screw the cap on tightly. Otherwise, cover the jar or bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen cloth.
Let the jar sit at room temperature until the mixture has thickened, about 12 to 24 hours. You don't need to worry about the cream spoiling while it sits out, as the acid in the buttermilk will prevent bacterial disease. If you prefer a looser consistency, check it after 12 hours. Once it has thickened to your liking, refrigerate until ready for use (can last up to one week in the fridge).
Once it's ready, the possibilities are endless. Use the crème fraiche to thicken pan sauces, stir it into scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes, use it as a baste or marinade for chicken, 0r mix it with fresh herbs and lemon and dollop it onto fish.