This is the easiest crème fraîche recipe imaginable. Authentic French crème fraîche. Made by adding a starter culture to cream, and then controlling the temperature while it cultures.
In Paris, we noticed some pastry chefs were using crème fraîche in desserts to add an extra depth of flavor.
Crème fraîche is like a French version of sour cream, but it is made with a different culture and is milder than sour cream. Also, it is made completely from cream, where most sour cream is actually part milk and part cream with additives to create the texture and keep it stable. Because crème fraîche is made from cream, it can be whipped to a soft peak and served in desserts and it will hold it’s shape. It can also be added to hot dishes, like pasta or a soup, without curdling.
Since it is a cultured product, it can be used when making ice cream to help keep ice from forming, but without making the ice cream too sour. We use it in all our ice cream recipes, and it makes our recipe for French Vanilla Ice Cream taste like the decadent ice cream we had in Paris.
Unfortunately, authentic crème fraîche can be expensive and hard to find. So, we decided to make it at home. This allowed us to choose exactly what was in it, make it using an authentic culture and also cut the cost.
It turned out to be really easy. It is made by adding a starter culture to cream, and then controlling the temperature while it cultures.
The culture is a real crème fraîche starter culture from Cultures for Health. It comes in powdered form in tiny packets and stores conveniently for months in the refrigerator. The crème fraîche can be made when you need it instead of having to buy it and store it just in case you might need it. It can also be hard to find in grocery stores, so being able to make it is actually convenient.
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How To Make Crème Fraîche in an Instant Pot
We make the crème fraîche in an Instant Pot, because it can hold the temperature for hours, which makes culturing easy.
Because this is a cultured product, it is important that everything is clean. Start with cream that is not near its expiration date. Remove the sealing ring on the Instant Pot lid and thoroughly wash the inner pot, the lid and the ring with very hot water.
The cream is first heated to 145 degrees F. This causes the proteins to tighten and will produce a thicker crème fraîche. The temperature is then allowed to drop to 77 degrees F before the starter culture is added. Then the mixture is kept at 90 degrees F for 16 hours while it thickens.
It is made from a mesophilic culture, which translates to “medium-loving”, indicating that it thrives at medium temperatures and is destroyed at a higher temperature. The culture thrives at temperatures between 74 and 77 degrees F, and is destroyed at 113 degrees F. The Instant Pot Ultra has a yogurt setting that can be adjusted to low, where it will maintain a constant temperature of 90 degrees. This makes culturing crème fraîche very easy.
More details are available on the Cultures for Health website where you can get the starter culture.