Crème Fraiche: An Essential Ingredient
Crème fraiche is a classic ingredient in French cuisine that’s become a universally popular cooking component. Its distinct flavour and versatility mean it’s a great accompaniment to a whole host of dishes and this is why consumers love using it within their culinary creations.
In this month’s blog we shine the spotlight on crème fraiche, which is one of the many speciality ingredients produced by Meadow for well-known businesses across the country, and explore why it’s so popular in kitchens not just in Europe, but across the whole world.
What Is Crème Fraiche?
As you might expect, crème fraiche literally translates to ‘fresh cream’, but it takes on a slightly different guise to its British cousin as the former is made through a fermentation process.
The cream starts out life as a standard dairy cream but the use of bacteria as a starter culture in the fermenting process, makes it soured, while also slightly acidifying and thickening it to give it its distinctive flavour and texture.
The culture used in this process is key to giving crème fraiche its unique taste and is what sets it apart from other creams, while its eventual thickness and creaminess is down to the fact that it’s made with a cream that has around a 30% fat content.
When it comes to what officially constitutes crème fraiche, European regulations specify that it must contain the two key ingredients: cream and bacterial culture, and additionally have a milk fat content of not less than 25%.
Normandy crème fraiche is generally considered to be the finest with the town of Isigny-sur-Mer particularly famous for its production of the cream and is the only cream to have the prestigious ‘appellation d’origine controlee’ which is a label of authenticity.
In recent years, low-fat crème fraiche has been developed to cater to a more health-conscious market.
Why Is Crème Fraiche So Popular?
One of the main reasons as to why crème fraiche is so popular is largely down to its inimitable versatility as an ingredient.
Crucially, unlike regular cream, crème fraiche won’t curdle when its heated and boiled which makes it an excellent application for a range of hot dishes, from oven-baked to hob-based creations.
Of course, it’s also a great accompaniment to cold dishes with its soured taste giving an excellent balance to sweeter foods and sauces.
Its popularity is highlighted by the fact that, according to statistics from Tastewise, crème fraiche’s yearly consumption growth rate is at just over 17%.
Another fantastic thing about crème fraiche is that its available all year round, so it can be used to enhance consumers’ favourite seasonal dishes, whether that be a summer salad or a winter casserole.
Crème fraiche is particularly popular as a means of thickening stocks, soups and sauces and gives each a richer flavour, and can also be a substitute yogurt, cream, or mayonnaise in most recipes, making it an essential ingredient in any kitchen.
Many soured products are seen as too harsh for dishes that require a more delicate flavour, so the subtle acidity of the cream means it works well as across a range of dishes, from chicken and beef to salmon.
It’s particularly popular in baked goods such as bread and cakes and this is down to the fact that crème fraiche also adds a hint of sweetness to breads, while providing a tangy quality to cake batter.
Given its versatility and flavour, it’s no wonder that crème fraiche is such a popular ingredient.
More About Meadow’s Crème Fraiche
While crème fraiche is versatile as an ingredient, it’s also versatile in form as there are two types: set and stirred. We make both here at Meadow.
Set crème fraiche has a creamy, thick, and luxurious texture and holds its firm structure, while its stirred sibling is looser and more suitable for pouring, however both have a very good shelf-life.
Our set products are made in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside at our Holme on Spalding Moor site, where we perfect and produce many of our dairy ingredients.
Meanwhile, our stirred crème fraiche is produced in rural Cambridgeshire at our Peterborough facility.
Not only do we make two types of this ingredient, but we can also offer both standard fat and low fat versions depending on our customers’ chosen application and nutritional targets.
Meadow’s crème fraiche is designed to be robust and full-bodied which makes it ideal for desserts, dips, and sauces. We are always looking at ways in which we can make it taste even better.