Silky, tangy, rich, and tart without being either sour or cloyingly heavy -- Homemade Creme Fraiche is extraordinary. It can be used in place of sour cream as a condiment, as an ingredient in dishes as diverse as velvety cooked sauces, salad dressings, or ice creams (stay tuned for a Lemon Balm Creme Fraiche Ice Cream). Or...it can be eaten straight or on cereal for a true breakfast of champions (don't tell Rebecca). Unlike sour cream or yogurt, creme fraiche does not curdle during cooking. Making your own Homemade Creme Fraiche is a lot easier than it sounds. This recipe relies on a simple fermentation, kicked off with a heavy does of an easily acquired starter (commercial live-culture yogurt) to guarantee consistently good results. While many creme fraiche recipes call for a buttermilk starter, I've found commercial buttermilk to be too variable in quality, freshness, and type of bacteria cultures used to deliver consistent results. The starter I use is unflavored, natural, no-additive, non-Greek style, commercial live-culture yogurt (I've had the best results using Danon brand). It is easy to find, cheap, consistent in quality and freshness, and nearly guarantees a perfect ferment every time. Note that this recipe takes about 1 day, so plan ahead, and get ready for nearly 2 pints of heaven. This recipe produces a thinner, subtler, more traditional home-style version of creme fraiche than the more sour cream consistency products you often find in the store. Once you've tasted this, there is no turning back!
We'd love to hear from you, how do you use creme fraiche in your kitchen?
Yield: 3 2/3 cup Creme Fraiche
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup live-culture yogurt (unflavored, natural, no-additive, non-Greek style)
- Gather and thoroughly clean a medium bowl, whisk, and pitcher larger enough to hold 4 cups of liquid. Having spotlessly clean equipment will ensure a more consistent and delicious final product.
- In the medium bowl, whisk together cream and yogurt until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pitcher, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. The creme fraiche will need to "breath" as it ferments (the photo shows the bubbles that develop during fermentation).
- Allow the mixture to ferment undisturbed for 24 hours at room temperature (around 70 degrees). If your kitchen is warmer (say 75 degrees) you can stop fermentation after 18 hours. If it is much cooler (say 60 degrees) give it an extra 6 hours.
- When primary fermentation is complete (after the time given above) store covered in the refrigerator until use. You can store for up to two weeks. Your Homemade Creme Fraiche will be slightly thickened, tangy, and almost airy. It is ready to use at this point, but the flavor and texture will both improve with another day in the fridge. If you would like a totally smooth texture, whisk briefly before use. If you want a slightly thicker texture and tangier taste, allow to ferment at room temperature for an additional 4-6 hours more than the recommended times above.