Fermentation Basics – Crème Fraîche
If you know me in any food context, you are well aware that I am a big dairy lover. Maybe it comes from childhood summers spent in France, after-work snacks of delicious, creamy, full-fat yogurt in Switzerland or maybe it comes from being a child vegetarian in search of dinner decadence. Who knows? All I can tell you is that dairy is the best in my book.
Some good dairy things are just hard to come by in the US, among them: plain, full-fat yogurt made with good milk and no additives, real, cultured butter and my personal favorite, crème fraîche. Maybe that’s a good thing! Since I can’t buy them, I make them and since I can’t make them everyday, they remain fatty, luscious, rate treats.
Having said that, crème fraîche is totally doable as a regular item if you have the metabolism to handle it, especially if you make your own kefir.
Traditionally, buttermilk is used as the culturing agent here, but the commercial buttermilks I’ve found don’t have a whole lot to do with the liquid gold you get in the butter-making process, and in my experience, they just don’t work. I’ve made crème fraîche with my own buttermilk and it’s fine, but I’ve had better luck making crème fraîche with kefir. For me, it cultures more quickly, the final product is thicker and I prefer the taste. But it’s easy to do it both ways. Try it and see what you like better.
2 cups of heavy whipping cream (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
3 T strained kefir (or real buttermilk if you have it/prefer it)
- Mix ingredients together
- Cover container with lid or tightly attached, finely woven cloth
- Place container at room temperature in an area out of direct sunlight and away from your other ferments
- Let it sit for 12 hours, until the cream has thickened considerably and smells like your dream of milk fresh off the cow’s teat
- Stir it and stick it in the fridge
- It will firm up with a few hours in the fridge, so don’t stress if it’s runnier than you want at the 12 hour mark