Over the past two years I’ve have noticed undeniable benefits to drinking raw milk. Doing so comes with its share of controversy. But I find it so hypocrytical of a government who gives a thumbs up to the VERY dangerous drug class of statins, but villifies raw mild. *sigh* Frankly, I’m weary of a government (as well as uninformed friends and family) that try to tell me whether or not I can buy it, so I hope to soon be able to take matters into my own hands and produce it myself. Yeah, it’s a bit of work, but I’m excited because now I’ll be able to make my own mozzarella cheese, yogurt, ricotta (which really isn’t a cheese), cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and buttermilk all from my own supply of raw milk. Oh, and let's not forget that there’s nothing better to go with homemade salty caramel brownies than a cool, tall glass of 100% pure raw milk. All that being said though, I just HAVE to introduce you to the decadent world of making your own Crème Fraîche.
What is crème fraîche you ask? Well, it’s a bit heavier than whipping cream but not as sour as sour cream. It’s a cream mixture that’s often used in fine restaurants with desserts as well as some savory dishes. I love to use it in lieu of sour cream or yogurt in some dishes and I could easily be convinced to just eat it by itself. It’s sweeter but doesn’t require sugar. (though some chefs have been known to add a bit of sugar, agave, or honey to it when serving it with fresh fruit.) To me it’s sheer decadence that I fully plan on enjoying regardless of what comes my way. I have to say though, until I discovered that I could make crème fraîche myself, I didn’t indulge in using it much. It costs practically an arm and a leg at the grocery stores—in fact, crème fraîche is so costly that many stores have stopped carrying it because they just don’t have the demand for it in our present economic state.
It’s technically a fermented food as it’s developed by introducing a bacterial culture. As such, it’s actually good for you. I like to put a dollop of it on my “fancier” soups such as Black Bean and Pumpkin or Cream of Asparagus. But I also like to use it as my base when I make an Alfredo sauce. Bottom line, it’s multifaceted and very, very easy to make. So I thought I’d share the easy recipe with you that my girlfriend shared with me years ago. It’s the easiest recipe that I've seen actually, and you all know that I’m the laziest preparedness person you’ll ever meet, so it was right up my alley. *grin* In fact, you don’t even need any fancy equipment or even the "not so fancy" equipment to make it. You don’t even need much muscle either. So it’s perfect for me. Even better is that it's a secret weapon to make ho-hum foods a bit more memorable due to the fermentation. Pancakes and other batters perk up and lighten up when you use it as a substitute for the dairy. You can use it as a great substitute for mayonnaise (I love it in my deviled eggs or potato salad!) as well as yogurt and sour cream. Since it's not as tangy as sour cream, the depth of the dairy flavor comes out more. I also like using it in my pudding recipes for half of the dairy requirement. It makes the pudding taste more like a scrumptious custard.
You can double or triple this recipe just fine. Some of you may holler at me after reading the recipe and say “Hey! How am I supposed to keep it cool if the electricity is out?” My answer is that you just may not be able to, although there are so many great ways to create your own refrigeration using clay pots, or the moon combined with a solar oven design, etc. Or hey, you might just end up only eating it in the fall and winter time where you can use Mother Nature to chill it for you. Or you can make use of your Humless Solar Generator and your freezer or just in your root cellar; whichever floats your boat. But I don’t worry about any of that because I make and use it all year round without needing refrigeration because I use it in sweet and savory dishes. It can be at room temperature when I use it for my savory dishes. Since it's got a higher fat content, it heats really well and seems to carry the other flavors that I add to a dish so well too. And it's TO DIE FOR in a Cold Cucumber Soup! The only time I really want it cool is if I’m using it as a dessert topping component such as the filling in a pastry tart or as a part of the frosting on cupcakes. So I'm convinced it’s still a worthwhile recipe to share, even on a site which acknowledges the very real possibility that there will be a day coming in which there’s a massive power outage. In the meantime, enjoy.
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk or plain yogurt (Either powdered buttermilk made up or regular buttermilk will work just fine and yogurt is yet another dairy product that’s good for you and easy to make.)
1. Combine the cream and buttermilk (or yogurt) in a sanitized quart-sized Mason jar. (I like to add one of those round whisk balls that you get with the “Blender Bottles” to make it all mix together better and add a little bit of air while I’m shaking it. You can remove it before you allow the mixture to warm up.)
2. Cover the jar with both the flat lid and the ring (both sanitized) tightly and shake for about one minute until it all looks well blended (no chunks of yogurt or powder from your powdered dairy if you chose that type of ingredient.
3. Set the jar with the lid on it in a warm place of the home. (in the window sill where the sun comes through, on top of the refrigerator, or on top of the stove while you’re cooking or even outside in your solar oven will work, though you do not need the heat any more than 180-200 degrees in the solar oven)
4. Allow the mixture to ferment for 12 to 24 hours until it has thickened to a consistency similar to yogurt or sour cream. Ideally you don’t want to open the jar to check for consistency. Simply tilt it a bit or shake it if necessary.
5. Once thickened, place the jar in a cool area (refrigerator) for 24 hours. You want it completely cooled with no warmth remaining in the jar. Shaking the jar occasionally will speed up the cooling process.
WARNING: you should not put the jar in the refrigerator if it’s any warmer than room temperature in order to maintain the proper temperature in the refrigerator for your other perishables.
This will keep well in the jar for approximately 3 weeks if kept moderately cool.
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