You might have seen creme fraiche in the supermarket, near the sour cream and cream cheese, and idly picked it up. Then you probably put it down again really fast after you saw what it cost. But maybe you still aren’t sure what it is.
Creme fraiche translates to fresh cream, but that’s only part of the story. It’s fresh cream that has been soured – so it’s sour cream. But unlike commercial sour cream, it will not curdle when heated. It’s unbelievably easy to make and far cheaper than buying those little containers.
I needed some for an ice cream recipe (which will follow in another post) so I made a pint of it. This is what you do:
Pour two cups (one pint) of heavy cream (whipping cream) in a jar. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of commercial buttermilk. Put the lid on, give it a shake, and leave it out on the counter for 12 to 24 hours. Do not refrigerate during this time.
After the allotted time, the cream will be very thick and deliciously sour – more sour than commercial sour cream. You can now refrigerate it.
Creme fraiche will keep a couple of weeks. Because it does not contain gelatin, it will not react the same way in molds and other dishes that require it to set up firmly. At room temperature, it’s softer than commercial sour cream. Use it the same way you do sour cream – I think it is particularly good in desserts and when used in a tart creamy sauce (like in some curries).