My husband gave me a cheese-making class as a gift last Christmas and opened up a whole new world of projecting for me. I’ve made cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, chevre and creme fraiche. The cheddar was not good, which was very disappointing because it’s time consuming and you have to wait months to find out if it worked or not. The rest were pretty tasty and I’m sure I’ll end up posting about them later, but here I’m going to write about the creme fraiche because it’s turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s quick to make, the cost is less and the result is tastier, in my opinion, than what you can find in the store. Creme fraiche is like sour cream, but better. I use it to top soups, in sauces and in desserts and it won’t curdle when exposed to heat. I’ve tried several different recipes for creme fraiche and in case you go looking too, here are some of the issues I’ve found. Some suggest using half & half or cream. I found the half & half didn’t make for a very firm texture, so I stick with heavy cream. I also found a recipe that said to use buttermilk to culture your cream and although this seemed like an easy solution to finding the creme fraiche culture, I didn’t like the flavor or the texture I got. If you want to try it though instead of seeking out the actual culture, just follow the recipe below and substitute 1 tblsp buttermilk for the culture.
Now, to find the creme fraiche culture. Here in Seattle, we’re lucky to have a store that actually sells it. The Cellar Homebrew on 143rd and Greenwood Ave N carries the creme fraiche culture. You can also order it online from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. For only about $7 for the culture and the cost of the cream, you can make over 4 quarts of creme fraiche. So, if you’re ready to give it a try, read on and see how easy it is to sour milk on purpose!
It takes 30 minutes to make, 18-48 hours to ripen
Here’s what you need:
a clean pint jar with lid
1/8 tsp Aroma B mesophilic culture or creme fraiche culture
1 pint heavy cream-organic would be best
a thermometer that reads up to 86 degrees
a small wire whisk
Be sure you’ve thoroughly washed with soap and hot water the jar, the lid, the thermometer and whisk. Put the cream into the jar and put the jar into a small saucepan. Fill with warm water about half -way up the jar and place over low heat.
Check the temperature of the cream and keep warming until the cream just reaches 86 degrees. This should take about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your cream to begin with. Start checking at 10 minutes as it’s a hassle to wait for it cool back down if you get it too hot.
When you’ve got the cream to 86 degrees, sprinkle the culture on top and let rehydrate for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes, take your whisk and stir in an up and down motion 20 times. Loosely cover and let stand in the warm water for 12 hours, the water will keep it warm and help the culture develop. At the end of 12 hours, tighten the lid, remove from water bath and let stand at room temperature for another 6 hours at least and up to 48 hours total. When it’s ready, it should be about the consistency of creamy yogurt. You can then refrigerate for up to two weeks.