A crème fraîche convert

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.

A little jar of kefir fermented cream.

A little jar of kefir fermented cream.

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.

Can you see how solid this cream is? It softened marginally after being out of the fridge.

Can you see how solid this cream is? It softened marginally after being out of the fridge.

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.

I couldn't resist another tasting of this marvelous cream.

I couldn’t resist another tasting of this marvelous cream.

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. 🙂

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11 thoughts on “A crème fraîche convert

  1. Jo says:

    What a fearless experimenter you are! Tell me about your fermenting cupboard – do you keep all your ferments together for a reason?

    • Hi Jo, there are 3 reasons I keep the ferments together. 1 It’s practical so I can check on them all at once, 2, there is space available there but in few other places and 3, most of them have cotton covers so I figure they might well share bacterium and yeasts and help each other out. Since my sourdough starter is 2 days old it needs to catch some wild yeasts. I have no idea if yeast swapping is a good idea though.

  2. Yvonne says:

    Which cream do you buy? Sounds lovely and I love the idea of fermented garlic too. My only successful ferment has been my sourdough starter which has been going for about 5 years. I’d love if you could share some of your other ferments here.

  3. Linne says:

    I sure miss my kefir; if she had survived, I’d be trying this for sure. And come spring, I’d be adding a little brown sugar or honey a d dipping some halved strawberries…
    Thanks, Jess.

  4. Leigh says:

    So you made creme fraiche with kefir grains! I absolutely have to try this. My husband isn’t too keen on kefir, but I love it – the tangier the better, and with that almost-effervescent bite – divine! I keep most of my cream for ice cream (since goats only give so much and given a choice between buying butter or ice cream, we’ll buy butter and make our own ice cream).

    You also mentioned a fermenting cupboard – good idea, rather than countertop space.

    • Do try the creme fraiche, and also the sour cream. I made a batch using 600ml cream and left it longer and all I can say is OH MY!!!! It IS rather sour but it’s complex in its flavouring and the creme fraiche pales with its divine taste (totally different applications though so different flavours called for). I could sit and eat the sour cream by the spoonful!
      The cupboard is more about a lack of bench space but it also holds the heat in there when it gets rather warm so it can be a very fast ferment. I find my kefir and 2nd ferment kefir (fermenting it again with no grains but with fruit or some lemon peel) take about 4-6 hours in the cupboard. I then pop them in the fridge til I need them. I had been fermenting in the fridge and it took 2-4 days which worked okay too I guess.

  5. Lynda D says:

    Im expecting potatoes cooked in Sonia with the sour cream next time i visit. This sounds so yummy. I remember a health food shop in Clarendon St, South Yarra that sold the best frozen yoghurt that was slightly sour but so so yummy. This is what i am imagining from your description.

    • At the moment Sonia is in about 22 pieces so you might need to wait a little.
      It’s not yoghurty at all but the description fits well enough. It’s zingy like something lightly flavoured with lemon, but it’s not at all lemony. The sour cream is a different flavour altogether. The first taste you think – oh, it’s off cream, but in a split second your taste buds inform you that’s wrong. It’s definitely sour (but not off) but it’s much more complex than that. It’s good stuff. 🙂

  6. […] my sourdough starter from some years back died a slow and mouldy death. My kefir has been going ok but after a couple of long ferments I had lost my grains amidst the curdled kefir […]

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