Crème fraîche is a great ingredient to level up recipes from soups to desserts with its tangy flavor and creaminess. If you cannot get it at your local grocery store, a great crème fraîche stand-in can be made at home with store-bought cream and buttermilk.
True crème fraîche is a type of cultured cream; it was originally made in France by allowing raw (unpasteurized/unhomogenized) cream to ferment and thicken with the help of naturally occurring bacteria (1).
This isn’t something most people can successfully do at home, but you can make a great crème fraîche stand-in at home with store-bought cream and buttermilk.
How to Make Crème Fraîche
1. Pour the heavy cream into a clean jar.
2. Mix the cultured buttermilk with the heavy cream. Do not use real buttermilk, as in the by-product of making butter, because it is not cultured.
3. Cover the jar. Allow the jar to sit at room temperature.
4. Check on the crème fraîche. Remove the lid and check on the progress, about every 6 hours until it is thickened.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- If you notice an odor. Sometimes after the cream has thickened there is a slight “off” odor. As long as you do not see mold, you can scoop off the top of the cream and discard it. The crème fraîche underneath should safe for eating, but if you are in doubt, toss it out.
- Use yogurt or crème fraîche instead of buttermilk. A few tablespoons of a previous batch of homemade crème fraîche or plain yogurt will work as a culture. 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.
- Organic and local raw cream is authentic. But if raw cream is unavailable, use a non-homogenized, pasteurized (but not ultra pasteurized) heavy cream.
- Kitchen temperature. If your kitchen is warm, it may only take 12 hours for the cream to thicken. If the ambient temperature is cool, however, it may take a whole day or two (or even a little more).
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, 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.
- Turmeric Soup with Carrot & Ginger – Comforting and filling.
- Pea and Mint Soup – Fresh delicate flavors.
Homemade Crème Fraîche
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. cultured buttermilk or yogurt
- Pour 2 cups of heavy cream into a clean glass jar.
- Mix in 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk
- Cover the jar and allowed it to sit at room temperature.
- Check on the cream every 6 hours after the first 12 hours until the crème fraîche has thickened, about 2 1/2 days.