It was only relatively recently that I got to know crème fraîche. I knew about it, and I'd sampled it here and there, but I'd never really appreciated it. This French staple is a soured cream which is not as sour as sour cream. It is equally at home drizzled over fresh summer berries as it is stirred into a soup or sauce.
This was the first recipe that we tried out of the very cool book Home Dairy with Ashley English, part of Lark Crafts' Homemade Living series. Ashley English is doing so much of what we wish we could be doing. Yes, we make as much from scratch as we can, and we've dabbled in dairy-making. But Ashley is the urban homesteading queen: cheesemaking, canning and preserving, beekeeping. She's doing it all. We started with crème fraîche largely because it doesn't require any special ingredients or tools.
Crème fraîche is very expensive to buy at the store and very easy to make at home. All you need is some heavy cream, buttermilk, and a thermometer. Originally, crème fraîche would have been made with unpasteurized fresh cream, and the bacteria necessary to thicken the cream would have been present right out of the cow. Because most of us only have access to pasteurized cream, we need to add those bacteria with a couple spoonfuls of buttermilk.
Homemade Crème Fraîche
- 1 cup heavy cream
1. Warm the cream gently in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 85F. 2. Transfer the cream to a glass or ceramic container. Using a metal spoon, stir in buttermilk. Mix until well-incorporated. 3. Cover the container with a plate or lid, and leave it at room temperature for 12 hours (or up to 24 hours. 4. After the culturing time, your cream should have noticeably thickened. (It will continue to thicken a bit more in the fridge.) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within one to two weeks.
- 2 tbs buttermilk