Homemade Crème Fraiche

homemade crème fraiche

A week or so ago, I posted a link to this Serious Eats post about making homemade creme fraiche on the Food in Jars Facebook page. The response was quick and fevered. People were amazed at how easy and simple it was to do something like this at home.

Here’s the funny thing. This is something I’ve been doing at home for years now but it’s never occurred to me that it would make a good subject for a blog post because it’s so incredibly simple. Truly, it’s nothing more than combining some heavy cream with a generous glug of buttermilk in a jar or bowl. Give it a brief stir to combine and then leave it out on the counter (uncovered) while you sleep.

I tend to let my creme fraiche do its thing on the counter for about 24 hours before I move it to the fridge, but the length of time you let it culture depends entirely how thick you want it to be and the intensity of the tang you’re hoping to achieve (longer equals more tang). When you’re done, take a moment to marvel at the alchemy of it. It never fails to feel a little bit like magic to me.

If your kitchen is dusty or you have pets who might be interested in a jar of cream on your counter top, stretch a bit of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. The good bacteria that you’ve introduced with the buttermilk needs to be able to breathe in order to transform the cream.

homemade crème fraiche

For those of you who like more specific measurements, I use approximately three tablespoons of buttermilk for every pint of cream (though truly, I don’t measure. Who needs to clean another spoon?). I do try to use local, grass-fed cream when I can find it, as the flavor is even better. However, if you can’t find similarly pedigreed cream, don’t let that be a deterrent to giving it a try.

If you’ve never tried creme fraiche before, it’s similar to sour cream, though it’s typically got a higher percentage of butterfat. It’s also got a more complex flavor than the sour creams we can buy at the grocery store. It’s amazing stirred into soups or dolloped on top of cut fruit or berries.

Amanda Hesser frequently suggests stirring it into a bit of freshly whipped cream for lightness and nuance (though in many situations it can be substituted for the whipped cream entirely). I like it on top of flourless chocolate tort as it works well to cut the richness of the cake.

Have you tried to make creme fraiche at home before? How do you like to use it?

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69 responses to “Homemade Crème Fraiche”

  1. You know what? I have been doing this for years too. I also have a cheaters version, borne out of desperation… I mix 1:1 ratio of sour cream and heavy cream, let it sit at room temp for 4 hours, and voilà! There you have some créme fraîche!

      • Just saw this post & am excited to try it out. Thought I’d pass on that I just picked up a bunch of pint and a half jars from my local farm store this fall. Check around & you may be able to find them again!

      • I am way late on this, and only started canning in 2012. But I’ve seen these jars in stores, so I guess they do make them again. Buuuut maybe you know that already 🙂

  2. I’ve been doing this for years too, learned it from my great, great aunt…try it sometime on a fresh biscuit or scone with homemade fig preserves…heaven!

  3. Cool! I haven’t tried this before, but I definitely will do it soon. I always love adding new homemade items to my kitchen. Thanks for the ideas.

  4. It’s amazing that you posted this today. Making creme fraiche is something I’ve been meaning to do forever. I actually sought out nice, local, grass-fed (and of course, not ultra-pasteurized) cream this weekend so I coudl finally try it (well, this or homemade butter). I couldn’t believe you were posting on it! I guess it’s a sign that I should make creme fraiche rather than butter. 😉

    • How long do you leave the recipe out in a warm place. What do you mean by warm place?

      sarahkincheloe says:
      February 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      I do this, except I call it sour cream (it tastes like sour cream). Mix maybe 1/4 cup sour cream into a pint of half and half and leave out someplace warm. I leave it covered, even. So easy.

  5. It is sometimes harder for mne to find buttermilk than creme fraiche, not to mention the amount you do have to buy when you can actually get it. Having said that, would it make a lot of difference if I used the basic substitute for buttermilk here; ie the vinegar/lemon juice?

    • If you use vinegar or lemon juice, you will end up with cheese (not at all a bad thing) rather than creme fraiche. The acid will separate the milk solids and whey.

  6. We sometimes buy non-homogenized milk at Whole Foods, and of course there’s a large blob of cream at the top of the bottle when we open it. It’s much thicker than even heavy cream, so I wonder if it could be made into creme fraiche?

  7. Just started making this at home, but since I’m not a baker, I have trouble with only using a tiny bit of buttermilk and not having much to do with it once I’m done with the creme fraiche. SE’s site had some folks making it with lemon juice…have you ever tried that?

    And, I’ve been known to use this on baked potatoes! How super good that is!!!

  8. I was just reading about this last night in DIY Delicious. Gotta go to the store today for supplies! She also suggested using yogurt instead of buttermilk.

    • Vanessa here from DIY Delicious. Marisa, so glad you blogged about this. It’s such an easy gateway to culturing dairy.

      Glad you’re going to try it, Wendy. It’s so easy. You can use yogurt, or buttermilk, or sour cream.

      For the people using lemon juice, I’ve never tried it but I think it maybe is a different process that produces the same result…Lemon juice would curdle while cultured dairy would culture the cream.

      Also, I always cover mine and it still works. I also heat mine to just about body temperature to get it going. One more tip, if it’s super cold in your house as it is in mine, I wrap a heating pad around the jar and set it to low. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to work, if it’s chilly, so just keep checking it. Maybe mine takes so long because I cover it. I guess that’s possible. I’m not really sure. I’m going to try it uncovered next time.

      • Cream acidified with lemon juice leads to the Italian cream cheese marscapone! Heat cream (pref double or 45%+ fat, but single or 37% will also work) to 92 degrees C, take off the heat, add a few drops of lemon juice, stir. It should thicken slightly. Put a clean cloth (cheesecloth, clean handkerchief) into a sieve, over a bowl. Pour/scoop the cream into cloth in the sieve, and refrigerate overnight. The cream should thicken to marscapone, with a little whey that drips into the bowl. Be careful not to use too much lemon juice or it becomes a bit too sour. Marscapone and creme fraiche can be used in similar ways in cooking, and of course marscapone is classically used to make tiramisu.

  9. I’ve started using lemon juice and found the results to be superior, or thicker, to the yogurt I was using. For the most delicious citrus creme fraiche, throw in a piece of beat up lemongrass. You won’t be believe the aroma and depth of flavor.

  10. wow, i had NO idea it was this easy! growing up in a household in deathly fear of foodborne illnesses it wouldn’t occur to me to leave cream out overnight. i’m making a soup that calls for creme fraiche or sour cream and i went lazy with the latter. will try this soon tho, thank you!

  11. Ooh, thanks for this tip – I’d never thought of doing it myself and it’s obviously very simple. No longer buying yoghurt as i make our own, now can stop the purchase of creme fraiche, too. Brilliant!

  12. I have never tried to make it, I had no idea it was so simple! I love that you just glug it in to save a spoon. I am the worst for using every single utensil to make supper. Consolidate!

  13. I wonder how different the flovor is from the store bought stuff, as I live in France crème fraiche can be bought everywhere and buttermilk nowhere! Just for the fun of it I’ll try making some with lemon juice or yogurt to see the difference. Thanks for the idea!

  14. Just before you posted this, I unwittingly threw out some heavy cream accidentally left out overnight. If I don’t have buttermilk, is there any other way to salvage it?

  15. simple things are the best to share! thank you for sharing this post: i LOVE creme fraiche but have not tried making it at home yet.

  16. this is amazing! I have never found creme fraiche in a grocery in my area, had no idea it was so easy to make. Martha blythely recommends it for so many things and now I can do them!!! I have dry buttermilk powder in my fridge, gonna try that to see what happens.

  17. Yes! I used to keep a fairly steady supply going, but have dropped off these past few years, shame on me!

    It IS grand atop a dense chocolate cake or in whipped cream, but my most favorite thing to do with it is dollop it on top of soups. Pureed sweet pea + bacon, sweet potato + apple, tomato + smoked paprika … anything homogenous and in need of dazzle.

    Now, to get me some good cream…

  18. My husband was a chef when I met him. He would talk about creme fraiche. I remember that he said you couldn’t buy it in the stores because of how it is made. Now I know why. And, guess what? I will be making some. LOL

  19. I love making creme fraiche. We use it when making fresh blueberry muffins in place of sour cream. Also, in the spring, when there is fresh rhubarb, we make a rhubarb compote. Warm fruit, topped with cool creme fraiche. A nice contrast in flavors, textures, and taste.

  20. […] wild fermented yeast ripens and elevates (in every meaning of the word) your bread. How, overnight, a jar of fresh cream with a little buttermilk added becomes creme fraiche. Or the way one week of salting will change that pork belly to bacon. I’m not saying […]

  21. I’ve read that you can use whey (after straining yogurt) as a substitute for buttermilk in breads and things. Would it work as a substitute for buttermilk here? Google is being particularly unhelpful today, so I’m hoping someone might have the answer.
    Thanks!

  22. I find the flavor of this approach (with buttermilk) to be less complex than a good purchased creme fraiche (Cowgirl Creamery is my favorite, but Vermont Creamery is also tasty). However, I do plan to use that to make homemade.

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