A classic French ingredient (the literal translation is 'fresh cream') made from dairy cream that's been soured using bacteria in the form of a starter culture, to slightly thicken and acidify it.
Crème fraîche is usually made with cream that has at least a 30% fat content. This creates a product that is naturally thicker and creamier in flavour, with a lower level of acidity than sour or soured cream, although not too dissimilar in favour, crème fraîche is a little higher in fat, and so creamier. It can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, and can be served raw or heated, making it a very versatile ingredient to cook with.
Crème fraîche is also available in low-fat and no-fat versions.
Crème fraîche is available all year round.
Choose the best
Ideally, crème fraîche should have a relatively high fat content. Any product with a low fat content will likely contain additives to achieve the same creamy flavour and texture of the original. Check the label and make your choice accordingly.
Traditionally, the acidic element of crème fraîche would keep it fresh and palatable for longer than fresh cream. It should keep for some time in a refrigerator, but always follow the use-by date.
Crème fraîche is often dolloped onto baked potatoes, stirred into pasta or sauces, or eaten with puddings and fruit. Other soured products can be too harsh for delicately flavoured dishes, so crème fraîche will work well due to its subtle acidity.
It is also used to add sweetness, richness and slight acidity to hot sauces, and is particularly suited to white meats, such as chicken and guinea fowl. You can use it to enrich seafood sauces and salad dressings. Whisk it into a hot sauce at the last moment – traditional crème fraîche won't curdle the way sour cream does.
With so many variations on the traditional crème fraîche, it’s impossible to give guidance on how to use all of them, especially the low-fat and no-fat versions. It’s a journey you’ll have to take yourself.
Try this quick, easy and simply delicious salmon with greens & crème fraîche, served with buttery mash or pasta. Swirl it into butternut squash soup with chilli & crème fraîche or make it into crème fraîche ice cream. Chocolate tart with crème fraiche & raspberries had a lovely balance of richness and acidity. Swap butter for crème fraîche in a lemon, crème fraîche & chestnut cake.