Crème fraiche is a silken delight, derived from cow’s milk, by French gourmets with ingenuity only they possess.
A good crème fraiche is dreamy – a thick cloud-like cream that is a little nutty liked an aged cheese, and yet still fresh, creamy and heavenly smooth.
Sour cream in comparison seems stodgy and acerbic, yoghurt-like, pale and thin. On the other hand, crème fraiche is silky, nuanced, and so delicious you wonder how you survived without it.
Crème fraiche is cultured so that it’s very much alive like natural yoghurt.
It is exported, but only to European Union countries and the U.S.A.
You can get French crème fraiche in new York’s numerous gourmet stores.
In Toronto if you want crème fraiche you will have to make it yourself.
It is easy, once you master the details.
Get whipping cream preferably with a fat content of 40 per cent or more (most available in grocery stores are 35 per cent butterfat) and keep it at 72 – 78 F (22 – 25 C) overnight. The flowing day you should refrigerate it to halt fermentation.
It may take anywhere from a couple of hours to sometimes more than a day. You will end up with something similar to crème fraiche but not exactly the same flavour or texture. It may lack the nuttiness of the French version, but it can be preserved for up to a month in a well-sealed container stored in a refrigerator.
Here is simple and quick recipe:
Sautee green beans in butter and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper, and just at the end add a teaspoon of crème fraiche.
Try it and see for yourself how good the beans taste.