Cr�me fra�che is cream that has naturally gone sour. Cr�me fra�che is soft and thick, and it's commonly used in sauces, soups and other recipes that call for cooking a milk product.
Cr�me fra�che originated in France. In the past, it was used as a method of preserving leftover milk and cream. The natural souring process is produced by culturing cream with lactic acid.
The result of the culturing is a custard-like cream that tastes tangy and nutty. The exact taste varies, depending on the original cream used. The process is dependent on introducing a special bacteria to the cream to cause it to thicken. Unpasteurized milk already contains this bacteria. Because the bacteria creates an acidic environment, cr�me fra�che can stay fresh for weeks.
Cr�me fra�che is similar to sour cream. However, cr�me fra�che typically has a higher fat content and lower protein content than sour cream. Because of this ratio, sour cream is more likely to curdle at high heats, making cr�me fra�che preferable for soups and sauces.
Making cr�me fra�che at home involves combining 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a bowl. Cooks can then cover the bowl with a cloth, and store it in a warm place for 12 to 16 hours. Homemade cr�me fra�che needs to be refrigerated, and it stays fresh for one week.