While in Germany over the holidays, I was reminded of how much more prevalent crème fraîche is in Europe compared to the U.S. It’s used in a ton of recipes over there, like dips, sauces, in baking, quiches, pies and soups. I personally love it for cooking but also because it lasts a lot longer in the refrigerator than fresh cream. So I thought I’d share a little more about it.
Crème fraîche is a cultured (fermented) cream. What’s special about it is the particular strains of bacteria used, specifically lactococcus and leuconostoc. These are the same strains that are used in cultured buttermilk and sour cream. In fact the only difference between the 3 products is fat content – buttermilk being very low in fat (Mbrz makes it from pure milk), sour cream being medium (meadowbreeze mixes about 30% cream with 70% milk) and crème fraîche being the highest (made from 100% cream).
Unlike other dairy products (including yogurt and sour cream), crème fraîche will not curdle over high heat or separate when mixed with wine or vinegar. This is all thanks to the special mix of lactococcus and leuconostoc. cultures used. These species have some other important characteristics, as quoted in Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen:
- They grow best at moderate temperatures (well below yogurt fermentation temperature)
- they’re only moderate acid-producers, so tend not to produce a very sour tasting end product,
- certain strains can produce a warmly aromatic compound called dactyl that miraculously complements the flavor of butterfat. In fact, this is the characteristic taste we associate with “butter.” Even chardonnays produce this acid, which is no wonder we describe their taste as “buttery.”
So what can you do with Meadowbreeze Creme Fraiche?
- Churn it into butter. It will give a more European-type flavor compared to churning fresh cream
- Make risotto
- Use it in salad dressing
- Make a quiche or a frittata (almost like a crustless quiche)
- Make German Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie) and maybe add some caraway seeds to the dough if you like them
- Use it in any creamy soup, such as beet, mushroom, zucchini, pea, butternut squash, a creamy seafood stew, etc.
- A dip for veggies
- To complement smoked salmon or in a potato salad with smoked salmon
Have any other recipes to share? Please comment!