the making of creme fraiche

In confronting my fear of making creme fraiche, I realized what it is about baking that scares me. It’s not like cooking where you just buy mushrooms and simply apply heat to cook them. In making a dough starter or creme fraiche or homemade cheese, you are creating something. It’s like playing God in the kitchen. Something more fundamental is happening there, when you rely on activating yeast (Activating! It’s like flipping the switch on the monster hooked up in your basement!) or bacteria to turn cream into something that’s basically going bad–but in just the right way.

But, this recipe was too easy and all of the bloggers out there talk about making creme fraiche so cavalierly that I calmed down long enough to attempt it too. The fact that creme fraiche is not widely available and is slightly pricey helped to motivate me. So, I give you this recipe–or rather, non-recipe, it’s that easy. Yet so profound.

Creating Creme Fraiche

2 c heavy cream
3 tbs of buttermilk

Add them together. Walk away. The end.

Seriously.

Stir the two together in a clean glass (or other non-reactive) bottle or bowl and leave it open on the counter in your room-temperature kitchen for 12-24 hours. At 12 hours it’s less tangy than at 20. The consistency should be creamy and thicker than sour cream.

Stop the process (you are a mad scientist!) by putting it in the fridge, where confident people say it will last up to two weeks. I would never leave it that long, and here’s where I warn you about how imperative it is that everything is clean and fresh so only the good kind of bacteria forms and how I have no idea if pregnant, elderly or very new people should eat this. A bunch of French people who eat blue cheese that has started to walk are rolling their eyes at me and sighing. So are all the foodies that sous-vide angel brains. I’m sorry. I’m in awe of creme fraiche. But–I will also never resort to store-bought again.