Crème Fraîche

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Crème fraîche is a French dairy product that is a cross between whipped cream and sour cream. It’s like thick whipped cream with a little tang, and it’s fabulous on desserts, served just like Americans would serve Cool Whip. A little dollop on top of berries or on a chocolate mousse adds delicious creaminess and a unique flavor. It’s rich so you don’t need much.

But crème fraîche is also used in recipes, and one of its attributes is that it doesn’t curdle when added to something hot, much like a yogurt or sour cream can. So it can be whisked into hot soups, hot pan sauces or gravies, you name it. It also thickens, unlike whipping cream, which requires reduction first. So essentially, if you want to make anything thicker and creamier, you can use crème fraîche.

I can buy it locally in 8 ounce cartons, but boy is it expensive. Especially if you need to by a few cartons for a recipe. So if I’m going to be using some in a recipe, or multiple recipes, I just make it myself. It’s so easy to make and about one-fourth the cost.

Here’s what you do:

Home-Made Crème Fraîche

Combine one cup of whipping cream with 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, strained. Give everything a stir, then set aside at room temperature for about 8 hours. Cover and refrigerate. That’s it! It can supposedly store in the frig for two weeks, but I leave mine in for as long as I’m using it, and I’ve never witnessed mold or experienced a deterioration of flavor.

note: This recipe can be doubled or quadrupled.

another note: The crème fraîche can be sweetened with a little powdered sugar or even stevia, or turned into chocolate crème fraîche with the addition of sifted cocoa and powdered sugar.

But that’s not all. Think of all the savory ways you can use crème fraîche: stir in a little chopped chipotle (the kind canned in adobo sauce) to top a roasted red bell pepper soup, or add finely chopped herbs to top a meaty stew, or add gremolata to the crème fraîche and toss with a summer pasta with zucchini – the possibilities are endless…

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