Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade Crème Fraiche – Nobody's Ever Made it Just Once

Crème fraiche is French for "fresh cream," which makes it one of the most ironically named foods ever, since it's made by leaving cream out in a warm spot until it’s soured and thickened by a growing colony of bacteria. Yeah, fresh.

Regardless, making crème fraiche is very easy and as the title implies, once you taste the magic of homemade sour cream, you'll have a hard time not repeating this somewhat esoteric exercise. Sure it takes a couple days, but the effort is minimal for such a marvelous payoff.

As I mention in the video, besides the amazing taste and luxurious texture, maybe the best thing about crème fraiche is its ability to be cooked. Because of it's composition and fat content, it doesn’t curdle and separate when you heat it like sour cream.

This makes it an incredibly versatile addition to countless recipes. I can't think of many pan sauces that don’t benefit from a spoon or two. Yesterday on this blog, you saw it stirred into fried rice. Next week, you'll see it turn an ordinary pan of braised beef into a world-class Stroganoff. I could go on and on, and for SEO purposes I probably should, but you get the idea.

As long as your jars and utensils are very clean, preferably sterilized, there isn’t a lot that can go wrong. Be sure to get your hands on the best, freshest cream you can find. In the supermarket you'll want to look for "pasteurized," not "ultra-pasteurized" heavy whipping cream. Also, be sure to use cultured buttermilk otherwise you’re going to be waiting a full day to see nothing happen.

By the way, I'm extremely proud of this video recipe and blog post, but not for the usual reasons. It's because I didn’t make one single Randy Marsh joke! You South Park fans know what I'm talking about, and those of you that don’t should really check out this crème fraiche-themed episode. Enjoy!

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk

Mix together and leave in a warm spot (about 70-75 degrees F.) for 24 hours, or until thick. Refrigerate for 24 hours before using. Should last a week or two. 

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