How to make creme fraiche at home

April 19, 2012

I used to think crème fraiche was all special because you can’t find it in some grocery stores and the price just screams fancy to me. Then I learned how to make it at home and realized that it’s all a big hoax. Making crème fraiche is just as easy as making a bowl of cereal, without the cereal.

Watch this quick video to see just how fun it can be to bring homemade crème fraiche into your life.

Now, in case you need a more technical explanation, here goes: the buttermilk–or lactic bacterial culture–will act on the heavy cream and thicken it as more lactic bacterial cultures develop. As with all the fermented milks, the thickening is an indication that the acidity in the product is increasing and the crème fraiche is getting it’s delicious tang. Finished  crème fraiche has an acidity of 0.8% and a pH of 4.6. It has a butterfat content of 28% while sour cream is only at 18-20%. As we all know, fattier = better.

Whew! That science took a lot out of me.

And by the way, if you’re wondering why I busted so hard on ultra-pasteurized heavy cream, here’s the deal: ultra-pasteurized cream has been heated above 280 degrees to increase its shelf life to around 70 days. Pasteurized cream is only heated to 165 degrees during pasteurization and, therefore, maintains a thicker, creamier texture and better flavor. If you can’t find pasteurized cream, you can use ultra-pasteurized in this recipe, but it may take up to 36 hours at room temperature to thicken. Regardless, I encourage you to seek out plain old pasteurized cream in your area and begin using it in everything.

Crème Fraiche (makes 1 pint)

  • 2 cups heavy cream, preferably pasteurized instead of ultra-pasteurized
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Mix the two ingredients together in a jar. Allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. If it’s still thinner than a sour cream consistency after 24 hours, let it sit out a few more hours. Then refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.

Crème fraiche has a myriad of uses in your favorite foods, but if you want to be all lowbrow like me and put it on a hot dog, here’s a quick recipe for Sriracha crème fraiche.

Sriracha Crème Fraiche (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

Mix the two ingredients together and put in on a hot dog with caramelized onions or anything you like.

Finally, here’s a clip of the “Crème Fraiche” episode of South Park for your viewing pleasure. It’s a must-see for all Food Network addicts.

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