Creme Fraiche Info

Creme Fraiche & Fresh Fruit

As the summer draws to a close, the orchards and gardens are showing their best rewards.

The fall harvest of fruits and garden goodies call for a celebration in the form of apple, peach, and pumpkin pies, as well as soups and other goodies made from the garden.

Around here that means Creme Fraiche. Forget the whipped cream, and make some Crème Fraîche to really delight the folks at the table. You will be amazed at how simple it is to do.

What is Creme Fraiche

Crème Fraîche is a cultured cream product with higher butterfat and a wonderful mild tangy flavor.

Crème Fraîche is thick, rich and used much like sour cream. The flavor is tangier than whipped cream, but milder than sour cream.

It makes a delicious topping for soups, main dishes and especially desserts.

Extracting Cream from Milk

Most milks have more butterfat than needed for the cheese that's being made. This is especially true for longer aged cheese like Parma, and many other Alpine style cheeses. This excess fat is removed from the milk either by skimming or mechanical extraction.

In Parma, the cream is taken from the evening milk. The is done by allowing the cream to rise in shallow pans and then the lower fat milk is run off from underneath and is then mixed with morning milk.

After cheese making, the whey is usually run through a separator to extract any additional cream. The whey is then fed to the Fat Parma Pigs and the excess cream here is often turned into Butter.

Learn More About Creme Fraiche

My first introduction to the versatility of Crème Fraîche was in the Alps of Switzerland, while visiting a family for a few days on the mountain making the cheese called Etivaz. Every night they would milk the cows and let the cream rise overnight to ripen with the natural flora, then next morning they would skim and collect the ripened cream (Crème Fraîche) a then place it into a beautiful wooden bucket (with its own carved wooden spoon) that was ever-present on the table.

The evening milk is allowed to sit overnight while the cream ripens and rises. In the morning it is collected for use by the family.

This went into everything including coffee, desserts, soups, sauces and yes, the family enjoyed it all right there on the mountain.

We were invited to stay for Sunday dinner (lunchtime on the mountain). It was "Mac & Cheese" with, you guessed it, Crème Fraîche. I have never tasted better! Dessert was poached pears with chocolate, and of course, topped with Crème Fraîche.

When I have seen this made on the mountains, it has simply been the cream rising on the evening milk, and skimmed about 12 hours later, before adding morning full cream milk to the skimmed milk for cheese making. No starter or rennet was added, but be aware that you may get a different team of bacteria if relying on your own raw milk, and surprises may await.