When I was a kid I lovvved sour cream.
I remember one of my favorite things to eat was white rice mixed with a generous do-do-a-dollop of daisy. And when we went out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant my staple was a cheese quesadilla dunked into a creamy bowl of sour cream. I just loved how rich and tangy it was.
Then I became a body-conscious teenager and pretty much avoided it because I thought that fat was fear-worthy.
But now I’m totally into full-fat dairy because it’s delicious, and because of a few other reasons:
- A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care tracked the dairy intake and obesity rates of more than 1,500 adults. Those who frequently ate full-fat butter, milk, and cream had lower obesity rates than those who avoided dairy fat.
- Dairy’s fatty acids play a role in gene expression and hormone regulation. In simple terms, these acids may crank up how much energy our body burns and limit the amount of fat we store.
- A published review from the journal BMJ concludes that, back in the 1970s—when health regulators established national diet guidelines that encouraged people to avoid fat—there wasn’t evidence to support those warnings.
Seriously, all that from one Time article. I’ll spare you and cut my dairy-fat loving rant off there.
But something else I learned in the past couple of years is that while I THOUGHT I loved store bought sour cream, I had in actuality been missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures—homemade crème fraîche. I seriously hear bowchickawowow music at the mere mention of it.
Crème fraîche (I had to copy and paste that from somewhere else on the internet so don’t ask me how to get those fancy french accent marks) is made of—you guessed it—cream.
And that’s what I made it with in this recipe.
But I actually follow the exact method with 1/2 and 1/2 instead a lot of times…it’s still decadently rich and creamy, but it has a little bit more of a tang and fuller body, while traditional crème fraîche is sweeter and less firm.
*As an aside, you can follow this fool-proof method to make yogurt at home as well, but I’ll save that for another post.
So it is super easy and there’s no fancy equipment required.
All you will need is cream (or 1/2 and 1/2 if you want to take that route) and freeze-dried yogurt starter, which you can find at the nearest health food store. Those two ingredients plus a glass jar and a little bit of patience is all that separates you from silky, creamy goodness.
Ok here we go.
Pour your cream into a very clean pot and start to raise the temperature. Some people say you need to bring it to 180 degrees and then reduce it to 110, and I used to follow that to a T, but I NEVER do that anymore. I also am very unprofessional and use a meat thermometer that I bought for $15 at Khols to measure the temperature, so don’t take this thing too seriously.
Once the cream reaches 110 degrees, remove it from the heat (If you’ve gone over, let it come down a few degrees—that friendly starter bacteria likes it right about 110)
The amount of starter you use depends on the amount of liquid. I use 1/2 of a packet when making the pint worth of cream.
Whisk it into the liquid…
And pour into a clean glass jar…
Then, swaddle your jar in a kitchen towel and secure it with a rubber band. Turn on your oven light (not the oven, just the oven light) pop your little dairy bundle inside, and shut the door.
FORGET about it for 18-30 hours.
Trust me, the anticipation can be agonizing, but the result is well worth it in the end. After it has fermented for that time, the cream will have become lusciously thickened and populated with probiotics (the good guys).
The crème fraîche will thicken up more after you’ve had it in the fridge for a while.
And it will last at least two weeks (hypothetically speaking). 🙂
- cream or 1/2 and 1/2*
- Freeze-dried yogurt starter
- Add cream or 1/2 and 1/2 to a very clean stainless steal pot and heat to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (being exact isn't extremely crucial)
- Remove from heat and add freeze-dried yogurt starter and whisk to combine.
- Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and wrap the jar in a dish towel, securing with a rubber band.
- Transfer jar to oven and turn the oven light on.
- Leave jar inside oven with the light turned on for 18-30 hours. Remove towel and transfer to refrigerator. Creme fraiche will thicken as it cools.
I make a version of crème fraîche using 1/2 and 1/2. The result is a bit thicker and is slightly tangier--a little more like yogurt.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.