HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Crema: Help find a warm spot in my cold kitchen.

The recipe I use for homemade crema (thick Mexican sour cream) has me stir buttermilk or sour cream into lukewarm heavy cream. Then let it sit in a warm spot for 12 to 24 hours. (80 or 90 degrees) The problem is my kitchen doesn't get very warm especially overnight. Any ideas for rigging a homemade incubator to help thicken the cream?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Could you try leaving it in your oven? it's enclosed and doesn't get any air circulation, so I'd guess it's the warmest spot that's readily available.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chloe103

      The oven has no pilot light running so it will get cold overnight. I am thinking about putting a 25 watt bulb on my trouble light in there to keep it warm.

      1. re: Romanmk

        This is a great solution. To get bread to rise, my father would always put it in the oven (not turned on) with the back light on. Produces just enough heat....

    2. Alton Brown suggests using a back warmer (one of those that you plug in) for bread dough. If you have one, it might work. If you have a pizza stone (brick even), put it in the oven, turn it on about 200 deg. for half an hour or so and then turn it off. It should keep it warm for a few hours at least. That's what Cook's Illlustrated recommends for bread dough.

      1. I start my seeds on top of the refrigerator near the back, where the heat rises from the motor. If it works for tomato seeds, maybe it will work for crema.

        1. when i need to rise bread dough, here's what i do: put a microwaveable container (about 2 cup capacity) in the micro, and nuke it until boiling. leave the container in, and also put in the crema. close the door and put a post-it on there, warning people that there is something in there (so they don't open the door and let the heat out, or use it...). the simmering water keeps it warm inside the closed microwave, and the moist air is good for proofing the bread....i think the technique might work for crema, too?

          1 Reply
          1. re: chez cherie

            I use this technique for bread as well, except I just use hot tap water and I use the oven instead of the microwave. Turn the oven light on for good measure.

          2. I've done it in a cold kitchen a number of times. Still works, just takes longer.

            1. Dishwasher, after you start and stop a cycle.

              1. Could you possibly post the recipe? Came back from lunch today wanting to make the stuff . . .

                3 Replies
                1. re: bebevonbernstein

                  easiest thing in the kitchen to make. Two ingredients - 1 TB buttermilk to 1 cup heavy cream. Stir together, heat gently to 90 degrees, then pour into a glass container, cover with pastic wrap and leave it out overnight. Voila.

                  Most important thing is to use good cream. If at all possible, not ultra pasteurized.

                  Depending on what you want to use it for will determine how long to let it sit on the counter. The longer, you let it sit out of the fridge, the thicker it gets. For creme fraiche, let it sit out until it's about as thick as sour cream. Then once you put it back in the fridge it will thicken considerably. For mexican crema, which is quite runny, thicken it until it just gets a little thicker, but still very much pour-able.

                  1. re: bebevonbernstein

                    Paraphrased from several Rick Bayless recipes. On the stove heat 1 cup heavy cream to lukewarm and no more than 100 degrees F. Pour into a jar. Stir in active buttermilk: anywhere from 2 tsp to 2 Tbs. Or whisk in 1/4 cup active sour cream. The more starter the faster it will go but with less nuanced flavor. Place lid on jar, but do not tighten. Leave sitting out in a warm place up to 90 degrees for 12 to 24 hours until it thickens a bit. Use 12 hours for larger quantities of starter. Stir, tighten lid, refrigerate.

                    1. re: Romanmk

                      Thanks for the recipes, ya'll. Am not as experienced as you with this sort of thing, but I used to make creme fraiche the Silver Palate way all the time and had no problem with it getting to come together correctly when I just left it out on the counter for the allotted time, regardless of the temperature.

                  2. Try putting it atop your refrigerator, and maybe covering it with a sheet of plastic that has been taped to the back wall (so the warm air from the heating coils is directed up and at your bowl).