Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Milkmaid's Kitchen: Creme Fraiche

One of the easiest do-it-yourself dairy projects is making creme fraiche. For those who aren't familiar with this luscious creamy product: creme fraiche (French for "fresh cream") is similar to what Americans think of as sour cream. It's thick, creamy and tangy. Unlike sour cream, it can be whipped (like whipped cream) and used as a very-dairy dessert topping.

If you shop for creme fraiche (supermarkets usually carry it in their deli dairy section, and specialty markets usually have it) you will find that it is usually very expensive, sometimes shockingly so (I have seen 6 ounces for sale for as much as $6.00).

With 24 hours' notice, you can make your own creme fraiche for significantly less money. And, since you control the ingredients, you can use high-quality cream from the local dairy (or natural foods store), although I have had great results with Land O' Lakes and Garelick heavy cream.

Creme fraiche is made using a very simple formula: 1 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk to 1 cup of heavy cream. You can use sour cream in place of the buttermilk.

Creme Fraiche
makes about 1 cup, easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled
  • 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Place the ingredients in a clean glass jar. Cover tightly and shake to combine. Leave the jar at room temperature (around 65-70 degrees F) until lightly thickened and the creme fraiche tastes tangy. In my kitchen, this usually takes from 8-12 hours; it will thicken further once it's cold.

Refrigerate.

That's it! Now you have a great topping for fruit desserts (you can whip the creme fraiche or not, your choice), a luxe swirl-in to use as a soup garnish, a cream substitute to put in sauces, or a sinfully rich base for dips (The French Laundry uses creme fraiche as the base for their black truffle dip).

1 comment:

mary said...

I'm bookmarking this one! My husband and I watch Jamie Oliver on the Food Network and he often uses creme fraiche. Now I can make it! :)

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