Créme fraîche or sour cream, what’s the difference? Créme fraîche tastes similar to sour cream but with less tang and typically has a 10% higher fat content but doesn’t contain the gelatins or other ingredients needed to thicken sour cream. Also, créme fraîche is thicker than sour cream and works better in sauces or soups because it won’t curdle like sour cream. Both are interchangeable in salad dressing or topping recipes but once you sample créme fraîche, I bet you’ll prefer it. However, créme fraîche is pretty pricey and can’t always be found in your local supermarket. And that’s where this easy, delightful créme fraîche recipe comes in.
Homemade créme fraîche is almost too easy and I personally prefer it to buying a jar that is pricey, if you can even find it. But I almost always have heavy whipping cream and sour cream or buttermilk in the refrigerator so I was intrigued when I found the recipe in my well-worn copy of Classic Stars Desserts. This is an excellent dessert recipe book for entertaining and includes a host of unique but attainable recipes.
For my first attempt at the créme fraîche recipe, I decided to try an experiment with both sour cream and buttermilk because Ms. Luchetti states that both options will result in “distinctly different flavors”. I figured I’d surely prefer one over the other.
The mixture needs to sit out at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours to allow the mixture to thicken and sour. When I removed the lid after two days, they both looked the same…
When I stirred both containers, this is where I first noticed a slight difference. The sour cream créme fraîche was a bit thinner than the buttermilk créme fraîche. Not a huge difference in consistency, but noticeable. Tasting each sample, they don’t taste the same. They were both fresh and delicious but the sour cream recipe produced a bit more tang in the flavor. The best way I could describe the buttermilk version is it had a smoother taste. Unless you taste them side by side, I really don’t think you could come up with a like or dislike for one over the other and I personally loved them both.
So unless you want to really test both the buttermilk and sour cream comparison for yourself, make a batch using whichever you have on hand. Either way, this is a recipe well worth making (easy).
Lastly, you might ask “what is créme fraîche best used for?” In addition to replacing it in any recipe calling for sour cream, especially one that requires cooking or heating, creme fraiche is excellent when paired with fresh fruit, especially blueberries, strawberries or raspberries (stay tuned for a beauty of a dessert recipe coming up featuring berries and oats). But the recipe that started me searching out creme fraiche in the first place is one from my friend Lydia over at Suitcase Foodist. Her recipe for Soft Scrambled Eggs with Creme Fraiche and Hatch Chiles is my go-to recipe for scrambled eggs, my family requests them so much, with our without the chiles. Check it out because they’re the world’s best scrambled eggs is all.
This homemade creme fraiche recipe is so effortless, and produces such a beautiful, nearly pure result, won’t you give it a try? You’ll be so glad you did.
Creme Fraiche Recipe
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream not ultrapasteurized
- 2 tablespoons full-fat buttermilk OR full-fat sour cream
- In a stainless-steel or glass bowl, whisk together the cream and buttermilk or sour cream until blended.
- Transfer to a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid and cover the container.
- Let the cream stand at room temperature (about 68F degrees) until it thickens.
- This will take 24 to 48 hours. Once it is ready, store in the refrigerator for several weeks.
- Note: As the creme fraiche ages in the refrigerator, it will give off some watery liquid. Spoon it off and discard it to keep the creme fraiche thick.
Recipe from Classic Stars Desserts by Emily Luchetti.