What We’re Cooking This Week: Crème Fraîche

Don’t skip the live bacterial cultures.

Crème fraîche, photo courtesy of Jim Dixon.

Crème fraîche literally translates to fresh cream, but for cooks, it means a thick, slightly fermented heavy cream. You can buy it, but it’s much cheaper—and very easy—to make. Most recipes call for mixing buttermilk into heavy cream, but I’ve always used yogurt since there’s usually some in the refrigerator.

Use a plain or Greek-style yogurt with live bacterial cultures listed as an ingredient. (Industrial versions with sweeteners and flavors usually don’t have them.) And the cream needs at least 30% butterfat, so skip anything labeled “light” and go for whipping or heavy cream.

Like cream itself, crème fraîche makes almost everything delicious, but it’s also thick and spoonable—perfect for all the summer fruit desserts you’ll be making soon. Add a dollop to cooked dishes that need a creamy boost, much like you might use sour cream but without the added tang.

½ pint whipping or heavy cream

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Mix the cream and yogurt together, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12–24 hours or until thick. (It will thicken more in the refrigerator.) Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

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