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Jul 14, 2011 07:41 PM

Homemade Crème Fraiche

I've stirred buttermilk into some cream to make my own crème fraiche for a gelato recipe. I am wondering if it will foam up or overflow overnight -- should I transfer it to a big bowl? No experience with the stuff...

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  1. if it does foam up or overflow, you've done something wrong ;) seriously though, it'll be fine. just keep it covered with a kitchen towel to prevent anything airborne from landing in it.

    1. Oh dear the bowlful is still quite liquid, and has been sitting for about 18 hours. Still a chance it will thicken?

      14 Replies
      1. re: blue room

        Did you use regular grocery store cream that was ultra- pasteurized?

        1. re: chowser

          I know that the popular wisdom is that UHT pasturized cream won't work for creme fraiche. But I just made some - and it's perfect. The only kind of cream I can get around here is the ultra-pasteurized kind. I stirred about 1/4 cup of buttermilk into 3 cups of whipping cream, put it into a covered casserole and left it at room temperature for about 18 or 20 hours (lost track). A bit longer than overnight, anyway. In the morning it was thick - I was shocked, to be honest. I put it in the fridge and it thickened up even more. Tastes wonderful. Might just be a matter of the right temperature for the right length of time.

          And on this subject, I'm not sure why ultra-pasteurized cream wouldn't work as well as any other. Since you're adding bacterial culture - the buttermilk - you're not depending on any resident bacteria in the cream for the fraiche-ing effect. I can't see how the pasteurization would destroy the actual structure of the cream and prevent proper thickening. Can someone explain this to me?

          1. re: Nyleve

            How warm is your thickening room :) Nyleve?
            Mine tastes like plain cream still, not crème fraîche.

            1. re: blue room

              It was warmish summer room temperature - not hot, just pleasant. It was one of those good sleeping nights. Absolutely no idea why it worked - I was honestly not optimistic at all, having read all kinds of failure reports. But I was making the NY Times Creme Fraiche Cheesecake (this week) and I figured if the creme fraiche didn't turn out I'd sub sour cream. Anyway whatever the chemistry, it worked.

              1. re: Nyleve

                Nyleve, What do you think of the cheesecake?

                1. re: THewat

                  I'll let you know. I made it today but serving it tomorrow. The little bits of leakage I scootched off the foil tasted nice, but the sour cherry topping will seal the deal. I made two of them because having twelve for dinner - the cakes look perfect and it's killing me that I can't taste them yet.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    I bake a lot, but I've never actually made a cheesecake. I kinda figure you need 12 people to eat one, and when I'm actually cooking for 12, I go back to something I know. But I've eaten some wicked good cheesecakes. I hope yours is outstanding.

                    1. re: THewat

                      I kinda figure you need 12 people to eat one
                      this cracked me up...some people i know would disagree with you ;) but seriously, no need to wait until you're serving 10 or 12 people. just choose a recipe that appeals to you and make mini cheesecakes - they freeze well so you can just stash the extras for a time when you need a last-minute dessert.

            2. re: Nyleve

              I wonder if there's a difference between US and Canadian ultra pasteurized cream? I've tried it, let it sit for days and nothing.

            3. re: chowser

              Cream and buttermilk both from Whole Foods, but the cream carton is gone, so I'm not sure.
              I put 1/2 cup buttermilk into 2 cups cream. My room temperature is 69F now, was probably about the same all night. Too cool?

            4. re: blue room

              2 questions:
              - what were the proportions of buttermilk & cream?
              - is it rather cool in your house?

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Answered slightly before you asked, how clever of me.

                1. re: blue room

                  yes, the room is a bit too cool - try wrapping a heating pad set at the lowest temp around it to speed things up.

                  in the future you only need to use abut 2 Tbsp of buttermilk for a pint of cream. and you can also warm it gently on the stove (just to about 85 degrees) before leaving it to sit out - that should help with the incubation process.

            5. Success! The heat therapy worked, it's nice and thick now. Tomorrow I'll make the crème fraîche gelato.

              6 Replies
              1. re: blue room

                Congratulations! Let us know how the gelato turns out.

                1. re: blue room

                  awesome :) can't wait to hear about the gelato...and hopefully see a photo of that too!

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Very late with this pic, but here it is --

                  2. re: blue room

                    Nice! I wish I had known about that way back when, instead of throwing mine down the drain.

                    1. re: chowser

                      when in doubt...ask your fellow Chowhounds. it may not rhyme like the old adage does, but it's much more useful ;)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Definitely--instead of googling it which told me that ultra pasteurized doesn't work.

                  3. I just made creme fraiche myself - I used a recipe from a website called "" - a guy named Chef John. It turned out perfectly and his video recipe shows you each step. I made a double batch - some to cook with, some to make ice cream with.

                    Here's the video recipe:

                    On a side note, isn't it true that there is "no way" to make home made gelato because its really about the right machine which barely adds air to the custard/milk mixture? In any event, best of luck with your gelato - please let me know how it turns out, and if it does, please share your recipe!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                      I'm using a recipe from Mario Batali, and he says that cooling it properly will result in gelato. Also, there's this from Wikipedia, which seems to reinforce that idea:
                      "The gelato mix must age for several hours after pasteurization is complete for the milk proteins to hydrate, or bind, with water in the mix. This hydration reduces the size of the ice crystals, making a smoother texture in the final product."
                      I've recently made both hazelnut and milk chocolate gelato in a regular home ice cream maker. I carefully followed the cooking and cooling instructions, and they both produced dense/very flavorful stuff -- I could tell it wasn't ice cream. *However*, I've never had Italian gelato so I don't know how close I came! It may have been laughably wrong...but did the Italians make gelato before they had special machines? I'll have to read more.

                      1. re: blue room

                        My experience with gelato (in shops in the US, not in Italy) is that it is denser than much ice cream - not a lot of air spun into it. Sounds like yours turned out right.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I hope to find fruits, each summer from now on 'til I die, that are worthy of this method!

                          Seems like years since I've had a truly succulent cantaloupe, for instance.

                    2. I made my own creme fraiche and it did not taste as good as the one Trader Joe's sells IMO.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Funwithfood

                        Hmm...I've never had professionally made so I can't compare. It's hard to imagine anything tasting better (or being more fattening!) than what I have. I did use more buttermilk than the norm, I used 1 part buttermilk to 4 parts cream. After refrigerating overnight I can easily stand a spoon in it, and it's light yellow, not cream-colored.

                        1. re: blue room

                          Interesting. The amount of buttermilk I used is small by comparison: 1 Tbsp. buttermilk to one cup heavy whipping cream; left at room temp for a couple of days until thick. The flavor didn't thrill me.

                          1. re: Funwithfood

                            that's the standard ratio - about 1 Tbsp per cup. but perhaps upping the acid would give you a more enjoyable result...?

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I made creme fraiche with sour cream and loved it! (& was ready in <24 hours.).

                        2. re: Funwithfood

                          I suspect that the cream that you started with wasn't as good as what Trader Joe's starts with. If possible, try to buy a locally produced cream that has not been ultra-pasturized. Or, of course, buy it at Trader Joe's.

                          The creme fraiche that I make at home is far superior to any of the commercially produced versions I have ever had. I do have the luxury of being able to buy fabulous cream and real buttermilk. What could go wrong?

                          1. re: smtucker

                            It's a brand that Trader Joe's 'sells', and they indeed must use a superior cream.