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How To Make Your Own Crème Fraîche — And Why You Should

I freely admit that up to now, I hadn't really been sure what the stuff was or even how to say it. Let's get that out of the way right now: It's pronounced “kremm fresh.” So what is it? Think sour cream, only not so sour and, for my money, way better-tasting. 

“Crème fraîche is really a cultured cream, just like sour cream,” says Nancy Leson. “And you can put it on anything, from sweets to savories. You can put it on fruit, you can put it on dumplings.”

In addition to being the topic and title of an outrageously ribald “South Park episode, crème fraîche is the darling of top chefs in Seattle and all over the world. Sure, you can buy it ready-made, but why would you when it couldn't be easier to make at home? 

“You won’t believe how delicious this can be, and it’s so easy,” says Nancy.

I tried it, and I love the results. Here's what I did.

How to Make Your Own Crème Fraîche

Combine 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of buttermilk in a clean jar. Shake it up (baby), cover and let sit out overnight. And that’s it!

Check it in the morning. If you like the consistency and taste, put in the fridge where it will keep for at least three weeks, if you don't use it all up long before then.

Want it thicker or stronger? Let it sit out a little longer before refrigerating. Remember that the sourness will slowly increase over the weeks in the fridge. You can add some sugar if you want a sweet cream.

So What's Fancy-Schmancy Crème Fraîche Got On Sour Cream?

Not only is it better-tasting than sour cream, you can also cook with crème fraîche. Add sour cream to a sauce and try to reduce it, and it's likely to break and curdle. With crème fraîche, no problem. 

“Say you’re making a pan sauce,” says Nancy. “Just take the meat out, you know, just reduce it with a little wine. And then add a tablespoon or so of crème fraîche.”

The stuff is ultra-versatile, too. Nancy mentions lots of uses in her Seattle Times column.

"So, Zoot, what dish should I cook with this crème fraîche I made at home all by myself?" — Stein

"What's crème fraîche, hon?" — The lovely & talented Cheryl (the wife) DeGroot

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.