Crème Fraîche: What Is It And How To Make?

Crème Fraîche is a classic, French-style cultured cream that will enrich any recipe that calls for sour cream.

What Is Crème Fraîche?

Pronounced “krem fresh”, crème fraîche is a French word for “fresh cream” meaning a thick cultured cream.

Cultured cream is cream soured with a bacterial culture, similar to sour cream or Mexican crema.

These substitutes work best if you are serving them cool, as either a topping or dip.

If you are preparing on heating the crème substitute, evade boiling the dish to prevent curdling the dairy.

You are welcome to trial and use it in place of yogurt, sour cream, and even mayonnaise.

It pairs well in a potato salad, combined into a fish cake, or as a sweet or savory base for a dip. Since you can add it to heated dishes remove  the fear of curdling.

It can aid to thicken a stew or add some creaminess to a rich sauce.

Dollop it over fresh fruit, or whip and lightly sweeten to frost or fill cakes.

You can also use it as a condiment or thickener in many appetizers, dinners, and desserts.

In France, it is a thickened cream made with unpasteurized cream and offers a tart, buttery flavor.

While in the U.S. the product is made with pasteurized cream and fermented with either buttermilk or sour cream.

The end product is not quite the same as the French version but still very flavorful.

Above all, it has a tangy, nutty, slightly sour flavor and a fat content of around 30 percent.

Where to Buy 

You can make your recipe that is if you have time. Otherwise, you can typically purchase it in well-stocked grocery stores/supermarkets, whole foods market, trader Joe’s, or online at amazon.com.

Recipe: How to Make Crème Fraîche Fast

It’s like making yogurt but with a cream base instead of milk, no need to cook or heat anything.

Basically, stir a little buttermilk into the heavy cream, and allow it to sit for about 12 to 18 hours so the bacteria can do their job.  It will then thicken into a silky crème.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) 33 to 35% whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp. (45 mL) buttermilk or regular sour cream

Preparation

  • Firstly, stir together cream and buttermilk in a bowl.
  • Then, cover with a lint-free kitchen towel at room temperature (68 to 72 °F/20 to 22° C) for about 12 to 18 hours or until thickened.
  • After that, it should smell fresh and nutty. (Throw away if it develops awfully sour or off smells.)
  • Lastly, stir with a whisk to blend, then pour to an airtight container or cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours or until chilled. Use within 1 week.

Questions People Ask and the Answers

  • What is the difference between sour cream and creme fraiche?

Sour cream contains about 20% of fat and may include ingredients like rennin, gelatin, and vegetable enzymes to stabilize it and make it thicker.

Crème fraiche on the other hand, has a fat content of about 30% and does not contain any added thickeners. It has a richer flavor, is thicker, and is less tangy than sour cream.

  • What is the difference between creme fraiche and mascarpone?

Mascarpone and crème fraiche , a French cultured cream, share a rich, creamy consistency.

Though, crème fraiche is more acidic and has a 30% fat content (compared to 60 to 75% fat content found in mascarpone), which results in a lighter, thinner cream.

  • Can I use Greek yogurt instead of creme fraiche?

Sour cream with less fat is the best and easiest alternative, but it’s not as rich or tangy as crème fraiche .

Full plain Greek yogurt is another alternative, but then it does not have the same smooth texture or mild flavor.

  • Why Doesn’t Crème Fraîche Curdle?

Curdling occurs when proteins coagulate and separate from the water.

In crème fraiche , there is a higher amount of fat and a smaller amount of proteins, which makes it less likely to curdle.

Homemade crème fraîche
Homemade crème fraîche

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