DIY Crème Fraîche

True crème fraîche is a type of cultured cream; it was originally made in France by allowing raw (unpasteurized/unhomogenized) cream to ferment and thicken with the help of naturally occurring bacteria.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

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47 thoughts on “DIY Crème Fraîche”

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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

    Reply
    • 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?

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

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

    Beautiful post!

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  10. 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.

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  11. 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!

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

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  13. 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:)

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  14. 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!

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  15. 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!

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  16. 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

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  17. 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?

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  18. 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.

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  19. 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! :)

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

  20. 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

    Reply
    • 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!

  21. 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.

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