Creme fraiche is sour cream's fancy, French, expensive sister in the grocery store. But with just two ingredients and a day, you can have homemade creme fraiche for pennies on the dollar.
I love creme fraiche, it's so versatile and so delicious. I serve it up with berries as a snack, add it into scrambled eggs to make it nice and creamy, whip it up with some vanilla and a little sugar and dollop it on french toast or waffles, or add it into pan sauces for extra richness.
But what I don't love is that price tag. The real, French delicacy is $8 per 4 oz at my local specialty store.
Luckily, creme fraiche is pretty easy to make at home. All you need is buttermilk and 24 hours.
What is creme fraiche?
Creme fraiche is a French soured cream. The classic version is an unpasteurized cream with a very high butterfat content, up to 45%, that is soured due to its natural bacteria cultures. Because most of our cream in the US is pasteurized, to make creme fraiche at home we'll have to add some bacteria cultures back into the cream. Then the cream ferments at room temperature to thicken and sour.
Is leaving the cream out at room temperature safe?
Yes. To make it extra safe, sterilize your container before starting the fermentation. We're using the bacteria from cultured buttermilk. One of these guys is Lactococcus lactis, a microbe that is informally classified as "lactic acid bacterium", due to its ability to transform lactose into lactic acid by fermentation.
This increase in acid decreases the pH of the cream, giving it that tangy flavor and making the environment inhospitable to bad bacteria and keeping the cream from spoiling.
What's the difference between creme fraiche and sour cream?
Sour cream has a lower fat content than creme fraiche (about 18%-20% butterfat) and often has additives like stabilizers, thickeners, it could also have vegetable enzymes, etc.
Creme fraiche has a higher butterfat content of up to 45%, it is creamier in texture and richer than sour cream. The texture is right between cream and sour cream, and is so indulgent.
Because of it's high butterfat content it doesn't curdle or break like sour cream when added to hot sauces or soups. It also has no added thickeners or ingredients.
What can I use it in?
Anything you use sour cream in, you can whip it with sugar and add it to sweets, fruit, put it in your baking, add it to egg dishes like souffle and omelets, use it in dips, potato salad in lieu of mayo, salad dressings, and frostings. It's such a versatile ingredient!
It's also the main glaze ingredient in my million dollar chicken, which is so full of flavor thanks to the glaze.
Tips to make creme fraiche
Do not use ultra-pasteurized heavy cream. Just pasteurized will work fine. If you can find raw/unpasteurized cream at a farmer's market or specialty store (Atlanta folks, I believe Your Dekalb Farmer's Market has raw/unpasteurized cream!) definitely use it.
Try to make sure there are no additives like carageenan in your cream, as well.
If you cannot find buttermilk (it's happened to me) you can use equal amounts of sour cream or even plain yogurt.
Keep stored in your fridge for up to about 10 days.
Here's some great recipes to whip your creme fraiche in:
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- 1 cup (120g) heavy cream (at least 30% fat)
- 2 tablespoon (30 mL) buttermilk or sour cream
- In an extremely clean glass container, add in buttermilk and heavy cream.
- Cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let thicken at room temperature for 12-48 hours.
- Store creme fraiche in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
You cannot freeze creme fraiche.
Stirring while checking on the thickening of the creme fraiche is okay, I've done it without an issue. Stir away!
Putting it in the fridge will stop the fermentation process. If you want it to be thicker, keep it out until desired thickness.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.