What is Crème Fraiche?
Crème Fraiche (pronounced krehm fresh) is French for fresh cream. The word 'fresh' may make it seem like Creme Fraiche is bottled in its original form; however, this is not the case. It’s a very thick cream traditionally produced from unpasteurized milk containing natural bacteria. The fermentation of the natural bacteria (lactic acid) turns it into a thickening agent and as the French would say, voila! In countries where unpasteurized milk is available this thickening process remains mostly natural. Here in Australia, that process is different. Due to health regulations, the cream is instead fermented using an artificial method. It is also the only cream to have an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), which was awarded in 1986.
Crème Fraiche vs. Sour Cream
Crème fraîche and sour cream are not the same product; however, they are very similar in their rich, tangy flavours. In recipes where they are not the main ingredient, they can easily be substituted for one another
Whether it's a dollop on a tart or a swirl in a soup, crème fraîche and sour cream are interchangeable as 'to serve' ingredients in recipes.Ellie Vernon
Crème Fraiche is best used in cooking when it's heated, as it won’t split or curdle. Because of its slightly higher fat content (around 30%), it can also be whipped, just like you would a thickened cream. With roughly around 20% of fat, these two cooking methods cannot be applied to sour cream. Crème Fraiche is also more expensive to buy than sour cream, however, can be easily sourced at your supermarket of choice.
Sweet vs. Savoury
One of the best things about Crème Fraiche is that it is a multi-use cream, good for both savoury and sweet recipes. Try using it in one of these favourites:
How to make Crème Fraiche
Once you've mastered using Crème Fraiche in your cooking, why not try and make it yourself? If you've made your own yoghurt before then this should be relatively simple. All you need is a non-reactive container (glass will do), buttermilk and heavy cream. Using a ratio of one tablespoon of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream, simply mix the ingredients, place in the jar and sit and wait! After about 24 hours at room temperature, your creamy contents will be ready for the fridge. Use for up to two weeks in your cooking!