Are you one of those people that forget to put the milk back in the fridge? (No, me neither. Never.) But if we were, we'd be halfway to making our very own crème fraîche. Like cheese itself, crème fraîche originated as a way to preserve milk. Higher in fat than yogurt and sour cream, it has a fuller, sweeter flavour and a higher melting point – which makes it perfect for stirring into sauces or creamy soups just before serving.
But as a summer accessory, it's lovely chilled from the fridge and served with berries, just picked and still warm from the sun (try a parfait with crème fraîche, berries and lemon curd). Or add a little honey and top a pie, add it to crepes, stir into scrambled eggs at brunch or into potato salad instead of mayo. And for a summer main, you could add it to pasta with some parmesan, peas, mint and lots of fresh pepper.
Sure, you can buy crème fraîche at the store, but then how do you explain the carton of cream still sitting out on the kitchen counter?
1 cup 35-per-cent cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
Zest of 1 lemon
Makes slightly over 1 cup.
Bring the cream to body temperature by heating it gently. Add 2 tbsp buttermilk. I mix in the zest of one lemon for added flavour (optional).
Pour the warm mixture into a glass jar or plastic bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm area for 24-48 hours until it thickens. If your kitchen is normally cool, sit the bowl in a dish of hot tap water and replace as needed.
When the mixture is thickened, transfer to a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. It will thicken even more when cooled.
Will keep for at least a week in the fridge; using a clean spoon for each use will aid longevity.
Sue Riedl blogs about cheese and other edibles at cheeseandtoast.com.