I make crème fraiche whenever there’s leftover buttermilk on hand. It’s mind-numbingly easy. I pour about a cup of heavy cream into a jar, stir in a small glug of buttermilk, and let the mixture sit on my counter for 12 to 36 hours. It gets thicker and more sour the longer it sits out. Since it is a naturally cultured product, the flavor and texture are a little different each time.
So what is crème fraiche exactly? It’s heavy cream that has been transformed by the addition of a bacterial culture. The French like it so much because it doesn’t curdle when boiled, unlike American sour cream. So it’s an ideal thickener for soups and sauces. This crème fraiche will keep for at least 10 days in the refrigerator.
For those of you who are hesitant to leave fermenting dairy products on your counter, here’s a reliable (but overly fussy) recipe from Julia Child.
Crème Fraiche from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Berthole, Simone Beck
- 1 tsp commercial buttermilk
- 1 cup whipping cream
Stir the buttermilk into the cream and heat to lukewarm- not over 85 degrees. Pour the mixture into a loosely covered jar and let it stand at a temperature of not over 85 degrees nor under 60 degrees until it has thickened. This will take 5 to 8 hours on a hot day, 24 to 36 hours at a low temperature. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.