Crème Fraîche Is Much Easier To Make Than You Might Think

Is the condiment known as crème fraîche a staple in your refrigerator? If not, it definitely should be: This rich dairy ingredient made by inoculating heavy cream with bacteria-rich buttermilk (via Serious Eats) can bring a creamy, tangy boost to so many beloved dishes. Do your mashed potatoes need a hint of smoothness and butterfat? Stir in a dollop of crème fraîche. Does your sweet root vegetable soup need a bit of tang for contrast? Hit the bowl with a spoonful of crème fraîche before serving. Looking for a cake frosting that's more intriguing than buttercream? This mascarpone, heavy cream, and crème fraîche recipe from Vermont Creamery is a dairy triple threat that the New England-based creamery recommends serving with pound cake and plenty of fresh berries.

Now widely available in nationwide grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Kroger, crème fraîche can be kind of expensive, running about 75 cents an ounce. It can be more cost-effective to make the trendy condiment at home, and luckily, the recipe calls for just two ingredients and requires almost no effort.

Mix buttermilk into heavy cream and you're done

If you're looking to add cool, creamy crème fraîche to a gem lettuce salad or as a mustard-spiked topping for a slice of baked ham — but you forgot to pop over to the store — you can make the dairy-rich condiment right at home with two ingredients and minimum effort. As explained by Serious Eats, crème fraîche is simply cream that has been slightly thickened through a quick and easy fermentation process that can be kicked off at home using buttermilk.

The bacteria naturally present in buttermilk inoculate the cream, which has been stripped of its own bacteria through the process of pasteurization, with strains of beneficial bacteria like Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus bulgaricus (via Healthline). As the bacteria culture the cream, the mixture thickens after being left at room temperature for between 12 and 24, or up to 36, hours.

Mashed outlines the simple process in its recipe. All you have to do is mix a cup of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, cover the container with cheesecloth or a tea towel, and leave it in a warm-ish spot out of direct sunlight. Once the crème fraîche is set, you can cover it and store it in the fridge for up to a week.