True crème fraîche is a type of cultured cream; it was originally made in France by allowing raw (unpasteurized/unhomogenized) cream to ferment and thicken with the help of naturally occurring bacteria. This isn’t something most people can successfully do at home, but a great crème fraîche stand-in (I am calling it diy crème fraîche) can be made at home with store-bought cream and buttermilk.

creme fraiche image

To make the 2 cups of diy crème fraîche you see here, I poured a scant 2 cups of heavy cream into a clean glass jar,…

pouring cream image

…then mixed in 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk (don’t use real buttermilk, as in the by-product of making butter, because it is not cultured). I then covered the jar and allowed it to sit while the cultures did their thing and thickened the cream.

If your kitchen is warm, it may only take 12 hours for this to happen. If the ambient temperature is cool, however, it may take a whole day or two (or even a little more). It took 2 1/2 days in my kitchen last week. Some recipes call for heating the cream before you add the buttermilk, and this is said to enhance the culturing. I personally don’t always do this, but might try it next time and see if it speeds the process.

Cultured dairy products have nourishing qualities- they contain natural probiotics that benefit the immune system and the digestive system- and are best for you when they are made with the highest quality ingredients. I prefer to use organic and local raw cream when I can get it. If raw cream is unavailable, however, then I use a non-homogenized, pasteurized (but not ultra pasteurized) heavy cream, like the one you see above from Ronnybrook.

When I am making diy crème fraîche, I remove the lid and check the progress of the culture approximately every 6 hours after the initial 12 hours. On occasion I have left it a bit too long, and a slight “off” odor was apparent when the cream thickened. When this happened, I just scooped off and discarded the very top layer and all was well underneath.

You can also make diy crème fraîche with yogurt instead of buttermilk as the culture. I believe a few tablespoons of a previous batch of diy crème fraîche will work, too. Whichever way you try it, make sure to use a good quality, cultured dairy product as your starter or your cream won’t thicken well and will lack the characteristic tang of crème fraîche.

creme fraiche photo

I use crème fraîche all the time in my kitchen: swirled into soups and sauces (it does not curdle when boiled due to its high fat content), added to Mexican dishes in lieu of sour cream, in dessert recipes, and dolloped onto desserts instead of whipped cream. I also add it to egg dishes and use it in pasta recipes.

If you’ve never had it before, make sure to try some of your crème fraîche mixed with fresh berries. Lightly sweetened with a sprinkling of organic sugar or a small glug of honey, this is a treat I just love.

creme fraiche picture

More recipes for crème fraîche:
Food in Jars
Gluten Free Girl
Chocolate Chip Trips

 

47 Comments

  1. 1

    Julie — March 26, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

    Fantastic post – so many people don’t realize how easy it is to make your own! and thanks for the reminder!

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:34 am

      You are welcome! I’ve been doing it for years but never got around to posting it until now :)

  2. 2

    Delishh — March 27, 2011 @ 12:12 am

    Great post! I make my own yogurt & kefir and i heat the milk before always since it does speed it up, and then add the culture. Then i let it sit overnight with a blanket over it about 12 hours and i have the best plain yogurt or kefir.

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:35 am

      I make yogurt and kefir, too…love homemade cultured dairy products!

  3. 3

    Cooking Rookie — March 27, 2011 @ 5:03 am

    I made something very similar a couple of weeks ago – I let the cream with the buttermilk sit for several days, and then I strained it a little with the paper towel. It was supposed to become cream cheese :-), but it did not quite. Tasted good anyway. I will stop 12 hours the next time, as you suggest.
    I also make ricotta / farmers cheese in a somewhat similar way with milk and buttermilk. I have an old post with the recipe, in case you’re interested: http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/2009/12/homemade-ricotta.html

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:37 am

      I’ve done homemade cream cheese before but not the way you described…I don’t think you’d end up with cream cheese and whey situation, right? Glad it tasted good, though. I would check after 12 hours, but if it’s not thick enough, check again each 6 hours after that. In cool weather, it can take a little while. ps I’ve made and posted about homemade ricotta before…love it!

  4. 4

    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — March 27, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    Winnie – THANK YOU!!! I miss not being able to buy crème fraîche in the supermarket here. Now I don’t need to fret!

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:38 am

      Do give this a try Mardi…it’s cheaper than creme fraiche, too, even when you make it with organic cream.

  5. 5

    Foodwanderings — March 27, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    This is a wonderful guide and beautiful crisp pics!

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:38 am

      Thanks Shulie!

  6. 6

    Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions — March 27, 2011 @ 7:32 am

    Yay! I too knew that you could make it at home (it’s SO expensive in the store), but I had forgotten how and how easy it is! Thanks for sharing. How long does it keep in the fridge? I’m going to share the recipe with some friends, and I know they’ll ask me that! :)

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

      It should keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator :)

  7. 7

    Flour On My Face — March 27, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    I have been wanting to try this for a long time.

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

      Do it!!!!

  8. 8

    Shannon — March 27, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    I make this stuff almost every week and use it as a base for local salad dressings (no olive orchards round these parts). It’s also great on top of soups and I use it extensively in my winter cookbook to make soups creamy without sacrificing (expensive) raw dairy products. So yum.

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:43 am

      I LOVE it in soups. And I love all your ideas!

  9. 9

    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — March 27, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    Thanks for sharing this technique, Winnie! I’m certainly going to try it right away. This may be obvious and a stupid question, but…once the creme fraiche has reached the desired consistency, do you then store it in the refrigerator? And for how long can it be kept?

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:43 am

      Yes! Store in the refrigerator and it should keep for about 2 weeks.

  10. 10

    Jason Phelps — March 27, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    I have always wondered how to pull this off at home. I am going to try this real soon. Thanks for the detailed walkthrough!

    Jason

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:44 am

      Thanks for stopping by and hope you try it!

  11. 11

    Ethan — March 27, 2011 @ 9:44 am

    It’s rare that I see creme fraiche and when I do want it, I can never find it. Thanks for this. pictures are wonderful as always!

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:44 am

      Thanks Ethan!

  12. 12

    Elizabeth — March 27, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    That creme fraiche looks so thick and creamy. I have meaning to try this for so long, thanks for the inspiration. By the way, we love Ronnybrook too–they are the best!

    • Winnie replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 10:55 am

      Let me know how it goes, and def. use Ronnybrook cream :)

  13. 13

    Lana — March 27, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    I have made ricotta and yogurt many times, but never crème fraîche. It is very similar to making yogurt and I know it is simple:) Thanks for sharing. I love crème fraîche – it’s less tangy than yogurt and milder than sour cream. Now I can always have it handy:)

  14. 14

    Stephanie — March 27, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

    Wonderful! I love making things like this from scratch. Thank you for sharing!

  15. 15

    veggietestkitchen — March 27, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

    wow, i never knew you could make this at home. what about mascarpone cheese?

  16. 16

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — March 28, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    Oh, love this! I’ve made mascarpone and homemade ricotta before. I’ll definitely have to do this!

  17. 17

    Liz — March 28, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

    I really need to file this one away…I think making creme fraiche yourself is so much better than using some of the sub-par brands available at the market. Thank you!

  18. 18

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — March 29, 2011 @ 7:59 am

    wonderful information! I didn’t even know what creme fraiche was, let alone how to make it!

  19. 19

    Joy — March 30, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    That is so cool. I can’t wait to try this.

  20. 20

    Nutmeg Nanny — March 31, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    Awesome! I have been thinking I should do a DIY feature on Nutmeg Nanny. It’s fun to see how common ingredients can be made in the home.

  21. 21

    Rory Hart — March 31, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

    How long will it keep?

  22. 22

    Shelby — April 1, 2011 @ 3:39 am

    Ok, I am definitely going to do this! Who knew it was so easy!?

  23. 23

    Gregoire Michaud — April 23, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    Very nice and simple! That’s exactly what I am demonstrating in my last published dessert book :)

    Beautiful post!

  24. 24

    Weekly Recipe Wrap Up – The “I’ve Been a Slacker Edition” | Delicious Obsessions — May 7, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    [...] DIY Crème Fraîche – Can you say YUM? And so simple! Yesterday, I noticed a little carton of crème fraîche from my local deli cost $6.99. Ouch! Who can afford that? Not me, but I don’t need to now. I can make it at home for a fraction of the cost! [...]

  25. 25

    Rachel — November 22, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    Just wondering why you used a glass jar and if that’s a must??

    • Winnie replied: — November 22nd, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

      Hi Rachel,
      I haven’t used anything but glass, and don’t feel comfortable recommending another way to do it…

  26. 26

    One Simple Change: Add Some Culture | Healthy Green Kitchen — February 12, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

    [...] Cultured cream/all natural sour cream/crème fraîche: delicious additions to recipes in small amounts. Try making homemade crème fraîche. [...]

  27. 27

    Anna D — May 29, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Easiest way it to get raw double cream and leave it on the counter for up to 3 days, covering with cheese cloth and that is it, you have a soured cream or creme fresh

    • Winnie replied: — May 29th, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

      Anna,
      I’ve done that and find that the cream may develop an “off” flavor…have you found that to be the case or no?

  28. 28

    John — May 29, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    Is it bad to use raw buttermilk from the dairy where I get the raw cream? Should I use the commercial buttermilk in the grocery store instead? The lady at the counter says she uses the buttermilk as a probiotic for herself.

  29. 29

    Angela Watts — May 29, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

    If it goes too long and smells “off” you can also turn it into butter. Cultured butter to be exact, which is phenomenal tasting.
    I’ve been making cultured butter for a month or so now, and never realized if I just used it at the thickened point I had creme fraiche. I had licked the spoon when I mixed it every day though, and it was amazing.

  30. 30

    Homemade Organic Cultured Butter | Healthy Green Kitchen — June 1, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

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  31. 31

    Healthy Green Kitchen Homemade Organic Cultured Butter Recipe — July 24, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

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  32. 32

    Healthy Green Kitchen Grilled Endive, Steak, and Tomato Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing » Healthy Green Kitchen — July 31, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

    [...] dressing whips up in a jiffy in the blender. I used a combo of my diy crème fraîche and buttermilk as the base and I just love it. Greek yogurt (or an all-natural sour cream) would [...]

  33. 33

    Marie — September 2, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    How very simple, and great to know.