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Crème Fraîche

Servings: Makes 1 cup
Crème Fraîche

Sometimes dessert recipes include crème fraîche in the ingreidents, which is a heavy cream made in France.

The authentic crème fraîche is produced in France by allowing heavy cream to ferment gently with a special culture. The result is a cream which is thick, like American sour cream and yogurt, but which has a unique, slightly sour taste.

For cooking, crème fraîche is better than sour cream because it can be boiled, reduced and thickened without the risk of curdling, and its has a longer shelf-life than sour cream.

Crème fraîche is a slightly tangy, slightly nutty, thickened cream. Before the age of pasteurization crème fraîche made itself as the bacteria present in the cream fermented and thickened it naturally. Crème fraîche is widely available in Europe, but much less so in the US, where all cream is pasteurized, and therefore has to be fermented artificially. There are commercially produced versions available in select gourmet shops, but it is very hard to find and outrageously expensive. Considering how often it is called for in recipes these days, it is surprising that it is so rare.

1 cup heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)* see note below
2 tablespoons buttermilk or plain yogurt

Combine the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid (such as a mason jar) and place it in a warm spot, such as the top of the refrigerator or near the stove. Allow it to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours or until thickened but still pourable. Refrigerate. Crème fraîche will continue to thicken on chilling. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Why not to use Ultrapasteurized Cream:
Ultrapasteurized cream may take as long as 36 hours to thicken and will not have as full a flavor.

Makes 1 cup.

Date: March 1, 2005