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How to make a Crème Fraiche (Fermented Cream)

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

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I grew up eating crème fraiche (fermented cream), and I think until I left my hometown and moved to Kiev, I had never tasted any other sour cream but crème fraiche. Ukrainian cuisine is filled with recipes that feature cooking, baking or simply serving with crème fraiche.

crème fraiche in a metal little cup

In my blog I have a great number of recipes where I suggest using crème fraiche (fermented cream), I promise to you it is very easy to make. Once you taste the magic of this homemade sour cream, you'll have a hard time not repeating this esoteric exercise. Sure, it takes a time, but the effort is minimal, and the payoff is absolutely amazing!

In my blog I have a great number of recipes where I suggest using a creme fraiche, I promise to you Crème fraîche is very easy to make. Once you taste the magic of this homemade sour cream, you'll have a hard time not repeating this esoteric exercise. Sure, it takes a time, but the effort is minimal, and the payoff is absolutely marvelous.

fermented cream in a jar

What is Cream Fresh (Crème fraîche in French)?

French cuisine is filled with recipes that contain crème fraîche and making this probiotic is super easy. You can use it just like you would sour cream, only it will be a probiotic food, and man is it good. Crème fraîche is basically fermented cream. Many of the store-bought brands are not probiotic and have been pasteurized. They can also be kind of expensive but making your own is so easy and you’ll never want to buy it again. I love this as a topping for soups, on baked potatoes, and in all kinds of dips. The good bacteria in the cream actually aids in its preservation so it tends to keep fresh in the refrigerator longer than milk or cream. And it’s insanely good on everything!

How do you make Crème fraiche?

There are many ways it can be created, so let me break down all the various ways and then you can choose which method suits your cooking style.

First choice of making Crème Fraiche:

This is the way it was done in the old days but my mom, who lives in Ukraine, still uses this method. Take a jar of raw milk, place it near the window, covered with a lid and do nothing! Let it sit at room temperature for 3 days. Bacteria that are naturally present in raw milk will cause the fermentation to occur. Basically, the bacteria eat all of the milk sugar (lactose) and leave you with a jar of kefir and creme fraiche that sits on top of the kefir. By seeing separation of color in a jar you will easily be able to see difference between Crème fraiche (yellow color) and kefir (white color).

You know it's done when you can easily see the whey collecting near the bottom of the jar. I love fermented dairy, it's a magic food that can help a lot with the digestive system and contains many other health benefits. For more info for kefir, please visit this page.

Second choice of making Crème Fraiche:

This way is my preferred method. Since being in the US raw milk is a problem to get, so using pasteurized milk, or even ultra-pasteurized milk is often the only option. Here is what I do: Just like with making kefir, use your kefir grains with heavy cream (organic only) please, and check the ingredients list: The less ingredients the better, for some organic Crème Fraiche cream on the market contains many preservatives. I like this brand. Add the kefir grains (1 teaspoon per pint of cream), then cover the jar loosely with a lid, and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Then strain and retrieve your kefir grains and there you go, you've got crème fraiche. Always reserve the kefir grains for further use in making batches of kefir or crème fraiche.

Third choice of making Crème Fraiche:

This way is for everybody; even if you are not into kefir making and you don't own kefir grains, you still can enjoy great crème fraiche. Take 2 pints of heavy cream and place in a heavy bottomed pot. Turn on the heat and bring the cream very gently up to 95-105F, or 40-45C. Once the cream is warm, remove from the heat, and stir in 1/2 cup of store-bought plain kefir. Whisk all together and cover the pot with a lid. Leave it out on the counter for 12 hours, maybe longer, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. That's it! You are done and all you have to do now is just enjoy using your batch of freshly made crème fraiche.

Instruction step-by-step for 1 pint:

1. Take one small carton of good quality heavy cream and pour into a saucepan.

2. Heat the cream to 95-105F. Take off of the heat.

3. Add 1/4 cup of kefir and stir.

4. Cover with a lid. Leave at room temperature for 12 hours.

5. Enjoy, for the use of this is endless, since you can substitute your regular sour cream and heavy cream with crème fraiche. Let's not forget about the process of fermentation that gives you good bacteria. Your gut will be thankful.

Fourth choice of making Crème Fraiche:

This is the way Julia Child introduced crème fraiche to Americans back in the day. This woman who is a hero in my eyes, brought real food cooking into every home in America. Of course, for those who wants to eat real food. She introduced cooking opportunities to those who grew up on processed food. I believe when she had her first live TV show, filmed in Boston, there wasn't a Whole Foods or other places where you could purchase crème fraiche, but French cuisine wouldn't be French without great cheeses, wine, and crème fraiche!

So, here is her suggestion: If you need crème fraiche immediately, the quickest way is to take heavy cream and whisk until soft peaks form, as though you were making whipped cream, and then add buttermilk. Whisk everything for a second or just until everything incorporates together. That's it! You have crème fraiche, I believe it's technically not crème fraiche, but it will do!

Where can I use Crème Fraiche (fermented cream)?

Every recipe that calls for heavy cream, sour cream, or Greek yogurt you can substitute with crème fraiche, isn't it great?

Basically, using crème fraiche has no limits. Use it for salad dressings, dips, topping for pies, savory and sweet, soups, or as a side for any food that you enjoy eating such as Ukrainian dumplings called vareniki, or the more popular polish pierogies, stuffed cabbage, etc.

Your next Mexican dinner can be better and healthier with fermented cream, simply swap out your regular sour cream with rich probiotic crème fraiche and your gut will be happy. Try to add this Fermented Pico De Gallo to make your gut even happier and healthy.

Where Can I Buy Crème Fraiche?

Any health store or international market should carry it. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods will have it as well.

crème fraiche in a two bowls

I hope you'll make this soon. If you do, please tag me #innichka_chef on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon or Pinterest.

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