Crème fraîche (pronounced "krem fresh") is a classic French fermented dairy staple that is a slightly soured, more luxurious version of cream. Outside of Europe, crème fraiche is considered a speciality item and can be expensive and difficult to find. The good news is, it’s cheaper, incredibly easy and satisfying to make at home. The result is a rich, slightly sweet, slightly tangy, unbelievably creamy cream that is versatile and so delicious.
Crème fraiche closely resembles homemade cultured cream (probiotic sour cream) and can be used interchangeably in recipes. We recommend you try both! Traditionally, they are made by adding specific bacterial cultures to raw cream. Crème fraiche uses buttermilk, the by-product of cultured butter, while cultured cream (homemade sour cream) uses yogurt starter culture. The cream is then left to sour at room temperature for about 24-hours. The process may sound daunting. Not to worry, because using a yogurt maker makes the process simple and removes the fermenting guess work and trepidation.
We recommended you go for the best full-fat, pure cream you can find – (no preservative or thickeners). Old-fashioned buttermilk refers to the whitish liquid that separates when churning butter. Fortunately, it’s available in the supermarket. It’s hard to know how ‘live’ with bacteria store-bought buttermilk is? Read the ingredients to make sure it actually contains ‘cultures’ and does not contain other additives. We used a quarter of a cup of buttermilk to ensure healthy bacteria were present to inoculate the cream. The quantities in our method are not exacting. We don’t think you can go wrong with this one.
Before you begin, sterilise the glass jar, lid and any utensils you use, in boiling water. The danger of not sterilising is that other bacteria may overpower your culture and affect the outcome of your crème fraiche.
300 – 600 g pure cream (additive free)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1. Pour the cream and buttermilk into your glass yogurt jar, then stir to combine.
2. Put the lid on the glass jar and place into your yogurt maker. Pour water slowly into the base. The water must not be filled over the ‘tall line’ indicated on the inside wall of the maker. Place the cover lid on top. Use the digital control panel to set the temperature to 36° C (97° F), the time to 24-hours and then press ‘confirm’ to begin incubation.
3. After 24-hours the fermentation is complete. Switch the yogurt maker off. Condensation will have collected under the cover lid. Take care removing it and allow the water to drip into the water bath, instead of your bench!
4. Remove the jar from the water bath and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours to chill.
5. Once chilled crème fraiche is ready to use. The consistency will depend on the fat content of your cream. A brief stir, and another few hours in the fridge had ours thicken up as if it was whipped. Use creme fraiche as a substitute for sour cream or as a sophisticated alternative to whipped cream.
6. Crème fraiche will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.