For centuries, British households and food manufacturers have been using dairy ingredients such as butter, cream and milk when creating some of the nation’s favourite dishes. However, as we become more adventurous with our recipes two relatively new products, crème fraiche and sour cream, are beginning to steal the limelight by adding a new dimension and flavour to British cooking, baking and food manufacturing.
But how do crème fraiche and sour cream differ and what should they be used for? Both are versatile products, with the essential difference between the two products the result of a slight difference in how they are made.
Soured cream is obtained by fermenting regular, single cream with a bacterial culture. As its name suggests, it has a characteristic tangy flavour stemming from the lactic acid that is produced during this ‘souring’ process.
With 18-20% butterfat content, the ‘spoonable’ product works well in both savoury and sweet dishes alike, matching well with fish, fruit and potatoes. In savoury cooking, it’s popular for stirring into hot and cold soups, sauces, quiche fillings and vegetable purees to enrich them. It also makes a good instant dip or filling for baked potatoes, especially when mixed with chopped herbs and garlic.
In sweet cooking, it is perfect for adding to cheesecakes, cakes and biscuits and makes a delicious partner for sweet fruits as well as pies and hot pudding such as crumbles.
With a higher fat content of around 30% butterfat, crème fraiche is sour cream’s first cousin. The delicious and creamy product is soured by adding a starter culture to cream and allowing it to stand at an appropriate temperature until thick.
With a distinctive sharp flavour, that distinguishes it from sour cream, and a much extended shelf life than double cream, crème fraiche is richer, creamier and less sour than sour cream.
Although it won’t whip, one of its most redeeming features is that it can be heated to high temperatures without curdling, making it a kitchen workhorse and great choice for enriching both hot and cold dishes .
Somewhere between yogurt and cream, this fantastic and versatile product can substitute yogurt, cream or mayonnaise in most recipes and is perfect with potato salad or fish whilst also very well suited as an accompaniment to fruit.
Choosing between the two often depends on the intended use, as well as personal preference. Because sour cream has less fat but more protein and curdles if simmered, crème fraiche is better suited for use in hot sauces or soups. If using in a salad or as a topping, they’re pretty much interchangeable, with some people liking the tanginess of sour cream whilst others prefer the richness of crème fraiche.
As Britain continues to develop its reputation as a nation of keen cooks and fine food purveyors, sour cream and crème fraiche have an increasingly pivotal role to play. Versatile and tasty, these popular products have added a little culture to our traditional cream and are now firmly set as a keystone in the future of British food manufacturing.