Heavy Cream & Buttermilk


I’m a little incredulous that I’m posting this right now.  When I started making crème fraiche, I told myself that there was no need to make a fuss over the thing.  It’s hardly a recipe—not to mention that everyone and their mother has already posted the ridiculously simple method.

And then yesterday, while making a batch to accompany another recipe I’ll be sharing this week, I thought why the hell not?

People, this is sincerely the easiest thing I have ever made.  I’ve tried very hard to come up with something that took even a smidge less effort and I couldn’t.  And because it’s so shockingly simple, it’s almost unfair how impressed people are when you pull out a jar of thick, tangy crème fraiche and tell them that you made it yourself.

And just in case you’re wondering what one does with crème fraiche, I’ll give you a few applications: dolloped on fruit, smeared on cakes, dropped into soups or chili, slathered on pizza, wrapped around pasta, or licked straight from a spoon.  Basically, any place you could use whipped cream or sour cream—and on everything else as well.  Truly, I’m having difficulty coming up with something that wouldn’t be made better with the addition of crème fraiche.

You can see how it’s almost a problem that it’s so easy to make.

So, how does one make it?


Stir Together


Pour a cup of heavy cream into a jar.  Stir in a tablespoon of buttermilk.  Lay a clean kitchen towel over the top of the jar to keep out dust and other airborne nuisances.  Leave it out for 12-24 hours—the longer you let it stand, the thicker it will be.  Put a lid on the jar and store it in the fridge for up to a week.

That’s like thirty seconds of active prep time.  How could you not make this?

For those of you that like things in a more official format, I’ve written out the “recipe” below.



Crème Fraiche
Makes approximately 8 ounces

I recommend buying a good organic cream for this.  A half pint is generally cheaper than an eight-ounce container of crème fraiche and, like anything else, better ingredients equal better results.

1 half pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk*

Pour the cream into a pint-sized mason jar or a container that has a lid.  Stir in the buttermilk.  Cover the top of the container loosely with a clean kitchen towel and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours; it will become thicker the longer it stands.

Once the crème fraiche has finished culturing, place a lid on your jar or container and move it to the fridge.  It will keep for a week.

TIP: You can use your homemade crème fraiche as a starter to continue making more.  If you can resist eating the entire jar, combine the last couple tablespoons with a fresh cup of cream.  Allow to culture at room temperature as before.  Perpetuate indefinitely.


*If you’re concerned about buying a whole quart of buttermilk (I’ve never seen it sold in smaller quantities), plan to make a batch of biscuits or scones as well.  Both can be frozen and will bake up nicely later on.  Also, I’ve read of people using lemon juice or vinegar in place of the buttermilk (sort of like the old baking trick for making buttermilk when you don’t have any on hand), but I’ve never personally tried this and am not certain how comparable the results would really be.  If you try/have tried subbing out the buttermilk, though, let me know what you think.