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making creme fraiche

i use creme fraiche alot in my baking. whether it be muffins or cakes or my banana bread, i love the tang that creme fraiche adds.

usually, i make mine by mixing cream and buttermilk and letting it sit out overnight. but yesterday, i read somewhere on that incredible encyclopedia i have called the internet about mixing cream and cultures and how depending on the cream and depending on the cultures, you can really make some incredible tasting creme fraiche.

so i was wondering... has anyone ever taken this route? if so, where did you acquire the cultures? and did you notice a difference? and will the world really end in 2012?


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  1. I am able to get real buttermilk and high-quality cream here in the Boston area, so I have never bothered with a culture. Plus, I hardly ever use creme fraiche, but if I was to use a culture, I would get it here: http://www.cheesemaking.com/

    I have used a number of her cultures, and they have all been wonderful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      i went on her site and WOW! talk about a wealth of information!!! i saw that the culture came with a pack of 5. i had read that you could use your last batch of creme fraiche as a starter for your new batch. but i try not to believe everything i read on the internet. :)

    2. ravaunclan, I am intrigued by your banana bread with cream fraiche. Would you share the recipe? I have a lot of bananas in the freezer; have banana bread on the baking schedule.
      Thank you!

      3 Replies
      1. re: laredo

        laredo, i would love to! i have to tell you that i quadruple the recipe (i will give you the single and let you go from there) and make 4 loaves. i also sugar the pans to give it a sweet crust. :)

        2 eggs
        1/2 c veg oil
        4 ripe bananas (mashed)
        2T creme fraiche
        1t vanilla extract
        1 1/2 c unbleached ap flour
        1t baking soda
        1/2t pumpkin pie spice (i use penzeys. LOVE them!)
        1/2t salt
        1 c sugar

        spray and sugar pans.
        mix flour, bs, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
        beat eggs and sugar until light in color, a good couple of minutes.
        slowly add oil.
        add bananas, creme fraiche and vanilla. beat until just combined.
        fold in flour mixture.
        pour into pan.
        bake for 1 -1 1/4 hours at 325º.
        check for doneness (my spell check says that isn't a word, but i use it all the time.) for a toothpick.

        i cut the banana bread, separate the slices with parchment, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil and freeze. that way we always have it at the restaurant when we need it. :)

        1. re: raygunclan

          Thank y0u f0r p0sting this, just put it int0 the 0ven!
          My parents are c0ming up f0r the day and it will be just the thing 0ffer them with a cup 0f c0ffee this aftern00n.
          I had cream and buttermilk, but sadly, n0 creme fraiche. That will be remedied sh0rtly.
          I did have s0me thick vanilla ice cream base th0ugh, s I subbed a c0uple 0f tablesp00ns 0f that. Weird, I kn0w, but I have my fingers cr0ssed it'll all be 0k.
          Can't wait t0 smell it wafting thr0ugh the h0use!

          *ap0l0gies f0r this strange l00king p0st. My keyb0ard is acting up.

          1. re: rabaja

            haha! i figured it was something like that. good thing it was the o and not the g. :)

            you'll love the recipe. it truly is so darn yummy!!! and even better in a couple of days toasted with some butter. mmmmm. :)

      2. I used to make it by adding sour cream to whipping cream. I don't know if it's the guar gum and carrageenan that thicken it up, but by the next day, I'd have "creme fraiche." Never used buttermilk.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Jay F

          i had read that you could do that as well. i wonder what the taste difference is.

          1. re: raygunclan

            Between sour cream and buttermilk, not much taste difference. My preference is buttermilk but I've used both. The buttermilk version might be a bit more tangy, but I've never done an actual real time side by side. Use either without fear and give the culture a try as well.

            1. re: raygunclan

              It's really the only creme fraiche I've ever eaten, so I'm not sure how close it is to something you might buy that says "creme fraiche" on the label. It's magic when you wake up in the morning, and you've suddenly got something so completely different from what you had last night.

              1. re: Jay F

                i've got my magic potion sitting on the countertop right now. i decided to get some "european cultured" sour cream from whole foods while i was there buying the not ultra pasteurized cream and buttermilk. so i decided to use both. :) we'll see...

            2. re: Jay F

              what are the proper portions of sour cream and whipping cream. And do you heat it then leave at room temperature?

              1. re: heylids

                I'd say 1 part sour cream to 3 parts heavy cream. I never heated it, ever. IIRC, it can also happen in the 'fridge. But it's 20 years since I've made it, and I'm not quite remembering that part.

            3. Thanks, raygunclan!, for posting your recipe.

              I'll be trying it tomorrow. I have some cream/buttermilk in the heater room, hoping it's doing what is supposed to.

              I mixed one tablespoon buttermilk with one cup heavy cream about four hours ago. So far no indication of thickening.
              Hope that was the right proportion.
              Thanks again for your help.

              2 Replies
              1. re: laredo

                raygunclan, as for your last question.... I don't think the world will end in 2012. Too many recipes to try for that to happen.

                1. re: laredo

                  laredo, it can take up to at least 12 hours sitting in a warm spot, or longer, and it sounds like your heater room might be the ideal spot for ripening. Btw, I use 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to one cup of heavy cream (from Julia Child's early cookbook ratio) just to give it an extra thickening boost.
                  I find it usually works overnight.

                  You used non-ultra pasteurized heavy cream, right? It's doable with ultra pasteurized cream, but may take much longer to thicken. For sour cream cultured creme fraiche, I use equal proportions 1:1, again, Julia Child's ratio, which she touted in "The Way to Cook" and it's always worked out for me.

                  Be patient, you'll be rewarded.

                2. well, i left my creme fraiche out last night in the kitchen and methinks it was too cold for it to culture. i just turned the griddle on on my range and am hoping that a little residual heat will do the trick.
                  if this stuff doesn't set up soon, i'm gonna get fruit flies on my bananas!!! :)

                  1. Yes, bushwick, I did use ultra pasturized cream. I wish I had had your info about exact proportions using sour cream. I think I used the Bitten recipe (one T. buttermilk to one C. cream).
                    After reading your post, I decided to add another T. buttermilk. Thought it would be smart to heat it in microwave which was not a good idea. lol. So then I had to "pay back" my one cup of buttermilk (needed for CI blueberry muffins) with 3 tablespoons of cream. This is too much math for me!

                    raygunclan, I checked my Webster unabridged and was sincerely shocked to see that "doneness" doesn't appear there either! :<)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: laredo

                      "I had to "pay back" my one cup of buttermilk (needed for CI blueberry muffins) with 3 tablespoons of cream"

                      That substitution won't be an issue for the recipe. That's a very small change.

                      You are quickly reaching mad kitchen scientist status. ;-))

                      How much did you heat your cream in the MW? 75°-80° or a bit warmer is fine for culturing. You can warm the cream first, it will hasten culturing, before adding the buttermilk, but not past 160° is my rule. I leave my mix in the MW overnight, just so my cats don't get in it, but my apartment is also usually around 80+° even inside the MW. It can take awhile, like up to 24 hours; 12 hours or overnight is not a hard and fast rule. Be patient and stop looking at it.

                      You know, if this doesn't work out as creme fraiche, you can certainly use the heavy cream/buttermilk mix for baking, no need to toss it. JUst use it in a recipe that includes the addition of a small amount of baking soda.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Mad kitchen scientist, indeed, bushwickgirl. You should have heard me trying to explain to my chemist father yesterday why my brined beans were "the best he had ever eaten," and he's had 91 years of eating beans. lol I probably need to post for help on that topic.

                        Back to the cream fraiche.....by last night it had a nice thickened consistency, which I guess is the goal, but not a whole lot of flavor. I forgot to check it today until just now, and it was beginning to have a watery part. Still not a lot of flavor.

                        Am I supposed to refrigerate it now? How long will it be good?

                        Thanks very much for all the help!

                        1. re: laredo

                          Congratulations. Creme fraiche has a milder flavor than, say, sour cream. Have you ever tried Mexican crema? I think of creme fraiche and crema as quite similar in flavor and consistency. Besides, you usually cook with creme fraiche and can adjust the seasoning as needed. You can certainly season it appropriately if serving as a topping or dressing.

                          Yes, refrigerate it now. The water (whey) can be drained off, through cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter, or do it my lazy way, by pouring off the whey that has collected in the indentation where the spoon removed the first few scoops of creme fraiche. The result will be a thicker creme fraiche. Yogurt and sour cream often have a little whey collect in the indents, it's no biggie, and not bad at all.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            Whey! That's the word I was seeking!

                            Yes, I love Mexican crema. Could almost eat it out of the jar.

                            I was just getting ready to post that I found some answers on this thread:

                            The pasta mentioned in that sauce sounds interesting, although probably a jillion calories. I'll find uses with Mexican food and certainly when berry season arrives. Meantime, if anyone has any other thought, please let me know.

                            Thanks, bushwickgirl, for staying with me on this. You are a sweetheart!

                            1. re: laredo

                              No prob, you're welcome, enjoy your homemade creme fraiche tremendously!

                              Extremely useful post from that thread:


                    2. If you want to make your own, select the cream with the highest butterfat content that you can find.To one cup of cream in a sterile container, add from one to three teaspoons of cultured buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream (or an active culture, available from a natural food store). The mixture should be heated just slightly, to no more than 85 degrees Farenheit, and left to stand in a warm spot (72 degrees), loosely covered, for six to eight hours (longer in a cool room).

                      Once "cultured," stir the cream and refrigerate. This should keep for one or two weeks at the proper flavor level.