Amarjit Singh, owner of Local Dairy in Ingersoll, Ont., is not the first person to be making crema in the province, but believes he has perfected it. Crema is a Latin American cultured cream similar to crème fraîche. Singh's brand, Crema La Vaquita, has 30-per-cent butterfat and is thick, creamy and tangy with soft, sweet notes. Its main variation on crème fraîche production is the addition of salt, which, Singh says, "brings out the flavours, like adding salt to butter."
Crema La Vaquita is used to top soups, enchiladas or make a creamy salad dressing. The rich flavour can cool a spicy dish and add creamy texture to the filling of a fresh corn tortilla. You can use it as a substitute for sour cream or crème fraîche in your cooking. It's perfect for sauces, as is won't separate when heated.
Aside from Crema La Vaquita, Local Dairy has been producing the fresh cheese typical of Latin American cuisine for over 20 years. (Regional names differ but queso fresco, queso blanco or panela are a few examples.) These mild, rindless cheeses can be cubed, crumbled or even grilled – they soften but don't melt completely. They easily pick up the flavours and spices of the dish they're used in.
The growing number of immigrants in Canada from Central and South American countries has been sparking demand for authentic products. Ontario and Quebec have always had large Latin communities but now cheese makers in Alberta and Manitoba are starting to fill demand in the West.
Crema La Vaquita is hitting dairy cases in selected Sobeys and Foodland stores in Ontario starting this week. You can also look for crema at Latin American markets (where it may be called crema Mexicana or crema Salvadoreña).
Sue Riedl blogs about cheese and other edibles at cheeseandtoast.com