Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Crème Fraîche

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
  • 2 tbs buttermilk
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.


  1. This looks delish. And I've been wanting to make carrot ginger soup for some time and I think this will top it nicely. Thanks for all the great ideas :)

  2. I am so excited to find this recipe...I love creme fraiche, and i always have buttermilk on hand. It's perfect timing to have this on hand all winter for all the cold weather soups. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Gilby in Los GatosMarch 11, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    I vaguely recall something very similar appearing about 20 years ago in either Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine, but I think they also added a few drops of lemon juice to the mix. Then 12 hours later they made a noodle appetizer by adding some cooked and cooled fettucine noodles to the creme fraiche. Very tastee, but not exactly low cal.


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