Crème fraîche. It’s not all that common here in Australia. We have cream, whipped cream (the fake fluffy sugar filled treat one squirts directly into ones mouth 😉 ), sour cream and cream cheese. That’s kind if it on your basic supermarket shelf. Crème fraîche is a slightly soured cream product half way between fresh cream and sour cream. It’s zingy and exciting on the taste buds and adds depth to whatever food it’s paired with. Sweet foods go well with it but it can be a savoury condiment too. After reading about it I thought it sounded interesting.
Now, I make milk kefir for my kids (not water kefir, that’s a different ferment). Kefir is an ancient milk ferment, believed to have originated around the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. Like sauerkraut preserves cabbage by adding lots of good bacteria that keeps the food edible, so does kefir keep milk drinkable by adding bacteria and souring it in a way that makes it tasty and not just safe but most healthy to drink. As a self-confessed milk addict, it’s not overly to my taste although I hope to change that. But, blended with a banana or some left over bottled peaches from last nights dessert, or with a little honey and cocoa, my kids drink a cup full every day. It’s great for healthy guts. Think like that liquid probiotic yoghurt drink, but tastier, healthier and cheaper!
Back to the crème fraîche. I was reading a blog post from Mother Earth News earlier this week about making Kefir crème fraîche and when my eye caught the tub of cream I had in the fridge I figured it was worth a try. I make kefir milk and my milk has 2 smaller grains (they don’t grow much because I ferment in the fridge) so I figured I would “sacrifice” the smaller of the grains to a tub of cream. I mixed it in a glass jar with a lid and popped it into the fermenting cupboard next to my white wine vinegar, buckwheat sourdough starter and milk kefir and left it to sit for the day.
I tried the crème fraîche last night and although the fermentation was patchy due to the cream being ultra thick it had worked. I prepared for a taste reminiscent of off cream. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I was stunned at the flavour which is zingy like a lemon tart is zingy but with no actual flavour. It thickens naturally due to those lovely healthy bacteria and all I can say is it’s not sweet like fresh cream but definitely not sour. It’s a strong flavour as in it hits the tongue but it’s not at all overpowering and combined with other foods it will stimulate those flavours and draw itself into the background.
All I can say is if you have milk kefir grains, TRY IT! 😀
I left mine to ferment overnight and popped it in the fridge this morning. It’s nearly solid! My kids tried some tonight and clamoured for more. 😀 The kefir grain was sitting on the top so thankfully it was easy to find and extract and this evenings shop included more cream which I plan to ferment for 30+ hours to see if it’s like sour cream (it’s supposed to be) which means it will be one more processed food I can make for myself but better and healthier. 🙂
If you’re keen to try it, I purchased my grains on eBay. I’ve had no problems with them at all and if we’re not in a ferment mood mine have languished ignored in the fridge for far too long to consider.
So, now I can make buttermilk, milk kefir, crème fraîche, sourdough, kombucha (we no longer keep a scoby), sauerkraut, fermented mayonnaise, fermented onions (like pickled onions but better), fermented garlic (oh my) and a few more kraut-style ferments. My next ferment will be kefir ice-cream. I just discovered it and can’t wait to try. 🙂