Crème fraîche (English pronunciation : //, French pronunciation: [kʁɛm fʁɛʃ], Quebec French pronunciation : [kʁɛm fʁaɪ̯ʃ], lit. "fresh cream") is a soured cream containing 30–45% butterfat and having a pH of around 4.5. It is soured with bacterial culture, but is less sour than U.S.-style sour cream, and has a lower viscosity and a higher fat content. European labeling regulation disallows any ingredients other than cream and bacterial culture.
The name "crème fraîche" is French, but similar soured creams are found in much of northern Europe.
In French-speaking countries, crème fraîche may refer to either the thick fermented product, crème fraîche épaisse or fermentée, or to liquid cream, crème fraîche liquide or fleurette. In these countries, crème fraîche without qualification normally refers to liquid cream, with the thick form usually called crème épaisse. In other countries, however, crème fraîche without qualification usually refers to the thick, fermented product.
Crème fraîche is produced by adding a starter culture to heavy cream, and allowing it to stand at appropriate temperature until thick. The culture is made up of a mix of bacteria including but not limited to L. cremoris, L. lactis, and L. biovar diacetylactis. This is what gives it the taste that distinguishes it from similar dairy products like sour cream.
In Europe, the fat content of crème fraîche is regulated, and it may not contain ingredients other than cream and starter culture. In North America, a product called "low-fat crème fraîche", with about 15% butterfat and with added stabilizers such as xanthan gum is commercialized. It is less stable when heated.
The crème fraîche from Normandy is famous, and the crème fraîche from a defined area around the town of Isigny-sur-Mer in the Calvados department of Normandy is highly regarded. It is the only cream to have an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), which was awarded in 1986. It is also produced in many other parts of France, with large quantities coming from the major dairy regions of Brittany, Poitou-Charente, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne.
Crème fraîche is used both hot and cold in French cuisine. It is often used to finish hot savory sauces; with fat content > 30%, curdling is not a problem. It is also the basis of many desserts and dessert sauces.
Crema Mexicana is a somewhat similar cultured sour cream.
- Meunier-Goddik, L. (2004). "Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche". Handbook of Food and Beverage Fermentation Technology. CRC Press. doi:10.1201/9780203913550.ch8. ISBN 978-0-8247-4780-0. , p. 181f
- McGee, p. 49
- Goddik, p. 179-6
- Wingerd, S. (2011). A Fraîche Perspective - Crème Fraîche. http://culinaryalchemist.blogspot.no/2011/07/fraiche-perspective-creme-fraiche.html
- La crème AOC Isigny, 'Saveurs du Monde', http://www.saveursdumonde.net/articles/3399/
- Harold McGee On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of The Kitchen (p. 49). New York: Scribner, 2004. ISBN 0-684-80001-2
- Lisbeth Meunier Goddik, "Sour Cream and Crème Fraîche" in Y. Hui Handbook of Food Science, Technology and Engineering (p. 179-6 to 179-7). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8493-9849-5.