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crema v. creme fraiche


weezy
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I was going to make a Tarte d'Alsace for a potluck this afternoon but realized I didn't have any creme fraiche. I ran to the store to get some, but they were out. They had, however, about a half dozen different types of crema -- Honduran, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, etc. Since I didn't know which style was the best approximation of creme fraiche, I chickened out entirely and came home and whipped up a quiche Lorraine instead.

So, is there any discernible difference (at least to a gringa) between any of the various cremas, and if there is which one is most like creme fraiche in texture and flavor?

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Crema usually has some salt in it. The other basic difference between crema and creme fraiche has to do with butterfat content. Crema is more like standard sour adoocream which will curdle when boiled unless it is stabilized with some starch. Creme fraiche has the same amount of butterfat as heavy cream so it won't curdle when boiled. Most of the commercially available cremas, regardless of whether they are Salvadoran or Mexican are loaded with preservatives which is why I don't like to use them. When I make a Mexican dish that calls for crema I add a little bit of salt to sour cream or creme fraiche.

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Crema usually has some salt in it. The other basic difference between crema and creme fraiche has to do with butterfat content. Crema is more like standard sour adoocream which will curdle when boiled unless it is stabilized with some starch. Creme fraiche has the same amount of butterfat as heavy cream so it won't curdle when boiled. Most of the commercially available cremas, regardless of whether they are Salvadoran or Mexican are loaded with preservatives which is why I don't like to use them. When I make a Mexican dish that calls for crema I add a little bit of salt to sour cream or creme fraiche.

You're freaky knowledgable.

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Most of the commercially available cremas, regardless of whether they are Salvadoran or Mexican are loaded with preservatives which is why I don't like to use them.

Aren't they also typically loaded with all kinds of other disgusting stuff, like modified food starch, guar gum, carageenen, xanthan gum, etc.? (Some commercial sour cream, and I'm looking at you, Cabot, are as well.)

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This insight is why Zora is such a treasure and should write a cookbook!

Most of the commercially available cremas, regardless of whether they are Salvadoran or Mexican are loaded with preservatives which is why I don't like to use them. When I make a Mexican dish that calls for crema I add a little bit of salt to sour cream or creme fraiche.

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There are a couple of brands of sour cream that are not loaded with gum and stabilizers -- Breakstone and Daisy IIRC.

Actually, quite a few brands of sour cream are made with cream and enzyme and nothing else: the ones you mention are two of them; Whole Foods usually carries both Axelrod and Friendship brands, which are similarly pure. Since these products are so good, why do the bad ones even exist?

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It is easier to mass produce yogurt and sour creams if you thicken them with guar gum and they last longer on the shelf with preservative chemicals. It's no mystery why mfgrs and large grocery chains prefer them. Why do consumers buy them when better completely natural products are available? Maybe because a lot of people shop by price rather than by ingredients. Or influenced by advertising. Or don't know the difference.

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Why do consumers buy them when better completely natural products are available? Maybe because a lot of people shop by price rather than by ingredients. Or influenced by advertising. Or don't know the difference.

Or because of convenience. Why do any work if you don't have to?

yes, I'm being snide

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Or because of convenience. Why do any work if you don't have to?

yes, I'm being snide

HA! And reading IS getting to be more work these days, as I get older...

So to save anyone else the work of reading a label, Daisy brand sour cream, for example, has no additives. Also, Friendship for cottage cheese. (I do read labels when they aren't too small :mellow: )

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thanks for all the info, it's a great help. Also, good to know I'm not missing out on a treasure when by-passing the various-named cremas at the grocery store.

BTW, after I got it in my head to make the Tarte d'Alsace, I went ahead and made one up last night. Good, but now I think I'm glad that I made the quiche instead on Saturday. I think it was the better dish of the two.

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It is easier to mass produce yogurt and sour creams if you thicken them with guar gum and they last longer on the shelf with preservative chemicals. It's no mystery why mfgrs and large grocery chains prefer them. Why do consumers buy them when better completely natural products are available? Maybe because a lot of people shop by price rather than by ingredients. Or influenced by advertising. Or don't know the difference.

Yeah, but Daisy and Breakstone aren't expensive at all. I'd have to go do some research to be sure, but I think Cabot probably costs more, and it's full of all that sh*t. And Trader Joe's tries to position itself as at least sort-of upscale and sort-of green and sort-of quality, and Cabot is the only sour cream the West End store ever carries. I really don't get it.

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I was going to make a Tarte d'Alsace for a potluck this afternoon but realized I didn't have any creme fraiche. I ran to the store to get some, but they were out. They had, however, about a half dozen different types of crema -- Honduran, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, etc. Since I didn't know which style was the best approximation of creme fraiche, I chickened out entirely and came home and whipped up a quiche Lorraine instead.

So, is there any discernible difference (at least to a gringa) between any of the various cremas, and if there is which one is most like creme fraiche in texture and flavor?

So my +1 and I have enjoyed Trader Joe's frozen Tart d'Alsace on a few occasions and were hoping to duplicate it (or try!) tonight for dinner. Yesterday we went to Harris Teeter and stocked up on some prosciutto and Gruyere and grabbed an onion to caramelize. However, we could not find the creme fraiche. We looked all over the area by the fancy cheese as well as all around the sour cream, cream cheese, etc. The manager we asked told us to go look by the cheeses again, but a second look didn't help, and no one was working the counter to help us out (the bakery person we asked didn't even know what creme fraiche was).

Our second attempt was at the Yes Organic Market in our neighborhood, but like HT, the worker we asked didn't know what it was, and we didn't see it on the shelf. The last stop was at Giant today, and again, didn't see it on the shelf.

We wanted to try Cowgirl Creamery while we were downtown today, but unfortunately it is closed on Sundays. We weren't near a Whole Foods and didn't want to try too far out of our way.

We ended up just making it without the creme fraiche (put some garlic and olive oil down as a base) and made a decent pizza-type thing, but I would like to try again in the future. Any advice on where to buy creme fraiche or to look in the store?!

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So my +1 and I have enjoyed Trader Joe's frozen Tart d'Alsace on a few occasions and were hoping to duplicate it (or try!) tonight for dinner. Yesterday we went to Harris Teeter and stocked up on some prosciutto and Gruyere and grabbed an onion to caramelize. However, we could not find the creme fraiche. We looked all over the area by the fancy cheese as well as all around the sour cream, cream cheese, etc. The manager we asked told us to go look by the cheeses again, but a second look didn't help, and no one was working the counter to help us out (the bakery person we asked didn't even know what creme fraiche was).

Our second attempt was at the Yes Organic Market in our neighborhood, but like HT, the worker we asked didn't know what it was, and we didn't see it on the shelf. The last stop was at Giant today, and again, didn't see it on the shelf.

We wanted to try Cowgirl Creamery while we were downtown today, but unfortunately it is closed on Sundays. We weren't near a Whole Foods and didn't want to try too far out of our way.

We ended up just making it without the creme fraiche (put some garlic and olive oil down as a base) and made a decent pizza-type thing, but I would like to try again in the future. Any advice on where to buy creme fraiche or to look in the store?!

There are two places I find Vermont Creamery Creme Fraiche: Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. (the other night, it was on sale at WF, don't know if that's still in effect). Also, I'm basing this on Falls Church stores.

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There are two places I find Vermont Creamery Creme Fraiche: Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. (the other night, it was on sale at WF, don't know if that's still in effect). Also, I'm basing this on Falls Church stores.

Likewise, I have never found any kind of creme fraiche at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan nor the Yes! Gourmet here. The WF on P street has it. For future reference, I would just use sour cream as a substitute. Unless, that is, Zora has objections.

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We wanted to try Cowgirl Creamery while we were downtown today, but unfortunately it is closed on Sundays. We weren't near a Whole Foods and didn't want to try too far out of our way.

MsDiP repeats what's written upthread and you'll find lots of useful information in earlier posts, too. I'll add that it's a shame Cowgirl Creamery was closed since they keep a glass pitcher full of delicious creme fraiche.

Cf., too, my most recent request for advice and exchange w Zora in Kitchen 911. I'm not going to bother w that link. I'll give you this from Food in Jars, a 21st-century refinement of the late 20th-century North American practice of mixing store-bought sour and heavy creams together. (The blog also provides simple instructions for turning one's results into cultured butter.)

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Likewise, I have never found any kind of creme fraiche at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan nor the Yes! Gourmet here. The WF on P street has it. For future reference, I would just use sour cream as a substitute. Unless, that is, Zora has objections.

Who, me? If using straight sour cream, I'd whisk in some corn starch or flour to the s.c. to prevent curdling. In the situation described above, I would use heavy cream with a T or 2 of whole milk Greek yogurt mixed in for tang, as a creme fraiche substitute.
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The Marvelous Market on Capitol Hill used to carry creme fraiche and then stopped, to my disappointment. They directed me to Bowers, the cheese stand in Eastern Market. It seems like the kind of thing they'd have, but I can't recall if I've actually bought it there. I started getting it at Whole Foods instead, which requires more planning.

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