Have you ever thought about making your own crème fraîche? If not, do give it a try. It’s just as delicious as the commercial stuff, but an awful lot cheaper. Follow my recipe below and learn how to ferment your own cream. You won’t believe how easy it is.
AD – this post contains affiliate links. See my cookie and privacy statement for further details.
I first came across cultured cream when I was living in France. What a delight. I took to it immediately and I’ve been making it myself pretty much ever since.
What Is Crème Fraîche?
Much like yoghurt, crème fraîche is a cultured dairy product, only it’s made with cream rather than milk. It has a gorgeous velvety mouthfeel and a slight yoghurty tang.
Crème fraîche is a classic French ingredient, hence the name. Pronounced ‘krem fresh‘ it translates as ‘fresh cream’. The fresh means tangy in flavour rather than freshly skimmed. Despite the name, it or something very similar is common across many European countries.
You need a bacterial starter culture to inoculate it. This thickens and acidifies the cream. The flavour though is mild; it’s not as sour as soured cream for example.
A mix of Lactococcus bacteria, which includes Lactococcus cremoris, gives it a distinctive mild and slightly nutty flavour.
Real crème fraîche should only contain two ingredients: cream and the starter culture. It has a high fat content of around 30 to 45%, which is why it’s good for cooking and tastes so creamy.
You can buy low fat versions here in the UK, but they usually contain additives to thicken it. Read the labels carefully. Personally, I prefer to go with the real thing, but not indulge in it too often.
Is Crème Fraîche Healthy?
Well, it’s hard to put a case forward for the health benefits of crème fraîche, because it’s high in saturated fats. However, as it’s a fermented food, it’s full of healthy bacteria. This means it’s good for your gut.
Because it’s rich in probiotics, it’s healthier than double cream (heavy cream). Like double cream though, it has a high level of calcium which is good for bone health.
Basically, it’s a high calorie food that you should definitely enjoy, just not too often.
Why Make Your Own Crème Fraîche?
There are three main reasons why it’s a good idea to make your own crème fraîche. One, it’s super easy to make. Two, it’s a lot cheaper than buying it. For some reason this particular dairy product is really expensive. And three you know exactly what’s gone into it.
There’s a fourth reason too. Much like growing your own food, it’s deeply satisfying to make your own ingredients. Or maybe that’s just me.
How To Make Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is super easy to make at home. All you need is double cream (heavy cream), cultured buttermilk, a jar and a spoon. Unlike yoghurt, you don’t have to warm anything up first. You literally just stir buttermilk into cream and leave it for a few hours.
It’s not even that fussy about temperature. It takes a while to ferment though. You’ll need to leave it for twelve to thirty six hours, depending on how warm your room is. The warmer it is, the faster it will turn.
As the good bacteria tend to out compete any bad bacteria, crème fraîche will keep better than cream. Store it in the fridge and it will easily keep for at least two weeks, although I defy you to make it last that long.
Step 1. Inoculate Cream
Pour cream into a suitably sized clean lidded jar. A 380 ml jam jar is ideal, as is a 350 ml clip top jar*. Add the buttermilk and give a good stir.
Step 2. Leave to Ferment
Place the lid on the jar and leave to culture at room temperature for approximately twenty four hours. It may take more or less time than this depending on the ambient temperature. It’s ready once it’s turned thick and tastes pleasantly sour.
Make sure your buttermilk is cultured and live. If it’s been pasteurised, it won’t work. Crème fraîche needs live bacteria to do its thing.
If you can’t get hold of buttermilk, you can use live yoghurt, kefir or even sour cream instead. As long as none of them have been pasteurised, you’re good to go.
Depending on how much crème fraîche you get through, you can keep it going, by adding cream to a spoonful of your last batch. It does tend to get thicker and thicker doing this, so occasionally make a batch with half single and half double cream.
During the winter, I wrap it in a towel at night, so it stays reasonably warm and doesn’t take longer than twenty four hours to thicken.
Don’t Waste The Buttermilk
If you’re not going to use your opened pot of buttermilk to make lots of crème fraîche, don’t throw it away. Buttermilk will last in the fridge for a while, even once it’s opened. It’s a fantastic ingredient for baking. Perfect, in fact for making soda bread, scones and many cakes.
You can substitute it for any recipe that requires sour milk or kefir.
Here are a few Tin and Thyme recipes you can use buttermilk in.
- Blackcurrant crumble cake
- Hot cross bun pancakes
- Irish apple cake
- Soda bread
- Spinach cake with lemon
- White chocolate scones
How To Use Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is such a brilliant ingredient to have in your fridge. It works well with both sweet and savoury dishes. You can use it both in its raw state and for cooking. As it’s made with double cream, it doesn’t split when cooked, so it’s perfect for sauces and thickening savoury dishes.
It’s also delicious added to soups. Mix it with chopped fresh herbs and you have an ideal topping for a baked potato or use it as a party dip. It has a particular affinity to mushrooms, so next time you make some for a pasta dish or to go on toast, try crème fraîche as a tasty alternative.
One of my favourite things to have for breakfast in the colder months is porridge. For an indulgent bowl of deliciousness, I top my porridge with a spoonful of crème fraîche and one of pumpkin butter.
When it comes to desserts, it’s a real asset. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m reliably informed that it makes a delicious ice-cream.
It also makes a lovely accompaniment to sweet tarts and cakes, particularly chocolate cake. It helps to cut through the richness. Ditch the cream and serve your next chocolate confection with this cultured cream instead.
Here are some Tin and Thyme recipes made with crème fraîche.
- Chocolate cherry trifle
- Creamy garlic mushrooms
- Green beans with almonds & crème fraîche
- Honey crème fraîche chocolate sauce
What To Use Instead of Crème Fraîche?
The nearest approximation to crème fraîche is sour cream. You can substitute sour cream in most recipes, but it’s not as rich and doesn’t have the same luxurious mouthfeel. It also has a sourer taste.
Greek yoghurt is another possibility. But it has a much lower fat content. So if you’re using it in a sauce, for example, add it after you’ve turned the heat off or it will curdle.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this crème fraîche, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more ingredient recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.
How To Make Crème Fraîche. PIN IT.
Crème Fraîche – The Recipe
How To Make Crème Fraîche
- 300 g double cream
- 1 ½ tbsp buttermilk (25 ml)
- Pour the cream into a suitably sized lidded jar. Add the buttermilk and give a good stir.
- Place the lid on the jar and leave to culture at room temperature for approximately twenty four hours. It may take more or less time than this depending on the ambient temperature. It's ready once it's turned thick and tastes pleasantly sour.
- Store in the fridge. It will keep well for at least two weeks.
I’m sharing this how to make crème fraîche recipe with Feast Glorious Feast for #CookBlogShare.
This post contains affiliate links which are marked with an asterisk*. If you buy through a link, it will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. Thank you for your support of the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.