As a rule, in Chef Varin Keokitvon’s Heartwood Provisions kitchen inventiveness rules and nothing goes to waste. Even when he could be buying ingredients in bulk, he’d rather DIY. That includes using cream to make his own thick, creamy, tangy crème fraîche from scratch. After he has whipped up a batch—which typically takes three to four days—he regularly uses it to finish a Wagyu steak; with grilled tomatillos and fingerling potatoes; or folded into the emmer porridge that rides alongside our own Wagyu beef short rib. He encourages using crème fraîche as a dipping sauce for Washington strawberries, and has even turned it into ice cream.
While it may take a few days for crème fraîche to go from plain old cream to its perfectly soured counterpart, making it is exceptionally easy. Here’s Chef Varin’s personal take on the French cooking cream favorite:
Chef Varin’s Crème Fraîche
1 gallon cream
4 oz buttermilk
1 tbl salt
1 oz white balsamic
Combine all ingredients and whisk until homogenous. Do not over mix or get mixture to a state where it’s foamy or airy. Place in clean container and cover with cheesecloth. Leave out at room temperature for 3 to 6 days or until sour. Once sour, store in fridge with a tight lid.
To make the process move even faster in the future, retain a bit of the crème fraîche and use it as a mother—a starter—for future batches.