Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Creme Fraiche

Creme fraiche is good. Creme fraiche is yummy. (Pronounce it "crehm fresh" and you'll impress the hell out of whomever, providing 1) -they've never heard of it and 2) -they're not French.)
Spread it on bread with jam, slather it over a hot scone, plop it onto a piece of fresh fruit pie, or a bowl of strawberries, or a baked potato, or into your mouth. Put a dollop on your hot green beans with a bit of lemon zest. Put some on your morning bowl of oatmeal. There isn't much that doesn't go well with creme fraiche although I'd stop short of putting it on my ice cream or sorbet. Not that it wouldn't be good, just a bit much.
If you're going to use it for sweets, place a split vanilla bean in with the ingredients. You can add a pinch of sugar after it has thickened.

Now comes the fun part. Creme fraiche is easy to make and that's what I'm going to tell you about today children. There's nothing like combining two ingredients that are beautiful unto themselves and from that union begetting the slightly tangy, silky, sweet fresh flavor of home made creme fraiche.

2 cups heavy cream (not ultra pasturized) - your search may take you to more than one market
2 tablespoons good buttermilk with at least 2% butterfat- for this recipe I used Knudson's reduced fat, cultured buttermilk, 2% butterfat.

Place the two ingredients (how simple is that?) together in a glass dish or measuring cup and stir well to combine.
Pour into a clean jar with a lid that fits tightly. Screw the lid on-- tightly.
Place in a warm spot like the back of your stove or on top of the fridge (if you live in the valley, any place is warm nine months out of the year) and leave it alone for 8-10 hours. That's the hardest part right there - leaving it alone.
After 8 hours, open the lid and give it a stir. If it's nicely thickened to the consistency of soft yogurt or thicker, it's done. If not, put the lid back on and let it sit another couple of hours.

THEN, put a spoonful in your mouth. Hold it there for a minute. Feel the creamy smooth texture, taste the tangy clean flavor. Then put the lid back on and stick it in the fridge. It'll thicken a bit more as it chills and will keep in the fridge for about 3 weeks. Some say it'll keep longer, but why risk it?

Now listen to your mother: if you just have to eat it by the spoonful, use a clean spoon and put some into a bowl. Eating from the jar will just put bacteria into that petrie dish and you don't want to experience the results.
Have fun!

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