Photo: 8vFanI (iStock / Getty Images Plus)

As a kid, I had a weird favorite food: sour cream. I simultaneously horrified and annoyed my family by dolloping copious amounts of my beloved substance onto baked potatoes, tacos, and chili. Let the other kids clamor for Twinkies: My fave snack was sour cream, strawberries, and brown sugar. When I lived in England after college graduation, I discovered the splendor of cream rising to the top of my delivered bottle of milk, and scones topped with clotted cream. Whereas bachelor fridges are stereotypically filled with condiments, my own fridge as a single twentysomething was packed with Diet Coke and dairy products: yogurt, half-and-half, and my beloved sour cream. (This week I learned that full-fat dairy is probably not going to kill me, which was excellent news.)

Somewhere along my dairy travels, I got introduced to crème fraîche. It was one of those “where have you been all my life?” moments. It was like sour cream, turned up to 11. It topped berries like an elegant champion and made for a delectably rich add to creamy soups and other beloved recipes.

The final result.
Photo: Gwen Ihnat

So as I was trolling the internet for recipes recently, I came across a guide to making your own crème fraîche (the phrase “answer to your prayers” gets thrown around a lot…) Apparently, it couldn’t be simpler: Just add a little buttermilk to some heavy cream and let it sit there. While the recipe I used suggested eight to 24 hours, mine was still a bit soupy at eight, so I let it sit out the whole day. And certainly “letting it sit there” is miles easier than my “whip it until you’re sure it’s never, ever going to peak and then whip some more and maybe you’ll get lucky” method of whipping cream.

The result was straight-up delicious (although I did then put it in the fridge, because the taste of lukewarm crème was somewhat disconcerting). For this morning’s breakfast, I added it to some apples sautéed in butter with a little cinnamon and vanilla (sweet) as well as scrambled eggs topped with the creme and herbs from the garden (savory). It was the loveliest morning meal I’ve had in quite some time.

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This discovery may mean that instead of vats of sour cream in my fridge, there will now be jars of about-to-be-crème-fraîche cluttering up my counter. Totally worth it. Since I am likely to have a booming crème fraîche supply, please add your favorite ways to use this heavenly substance in the comments.


Homemade crème fraîche

Photo: Gwen Ihnat

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  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp. buttermilk

Combine ingredients in a glass container and cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate.

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