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What is Creme Fraiche?

Ask the Chef

Question:

What is Crème Fraiche? Note: This question came in on the site tied to this recipe for Cheesecake with Freestone Peaches.

Answer:

There are many variations to Crème Fraiche, but most have two ingredients in common: heavy whipping cream combined with buttermilk. The quantities vary, as does the time recommended for the culture to begin to thicken. Crème Fraiche can be considered a staple in French cookery; it has the richness of our whipping cream, but the consistency and tang of sour cream. It doesn’t curdle or separate when heated. It’s taste will be both tangy and fresh, and some have a slightly nutty flavor. If you don’t want to attempt Crème Fraiche, a mild flavor whipping cream can be used as an alternative.

Here is an easy way to make Crème Fraiche:

  • Combine 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup buttermilk.
  • Pour ingredients into a clean sterile jar with cover and shake to combine well.
  • Allow to sit at room temperature overnight or until mixture begins to thicken. Shake and refrigerate. Use within one week.

Use Crème Fraiche as a substitute for sour cream in all your recipes ranging from cole slaw to mashed potatoes to cheesecake. Or try it in this classic French bistro dish, Celeriac Remoulade:

Simply combine 1 cup of Crème Fraiche, a couple tablespoons each (to taste) of Dijon mustard and fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Add 1 pound of shredded celeriac (celery root) and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

—Adapted from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking.

For more information, try the Joy of Baking site.