5 sneaky ways to use up leftover crème fraîche

Crème fraîche is one of those things you buy because some recipe you’re trying out demands it. You seek it out, obediently stir a few tablespoons into whatever it is you’re cooking, and then shove most of a pot of the stuff into the fridge.

With no idea what to do with it, you forget about it, and then throw out a green splurge that used to be crème fraîche a few months later.

Sounds familiar? It does to us – we bought a pot of crème fraîche yesterday and added a smidge to this chicken and tarragon casserole recipe from Good Housekeeping* last night. But we have vowed not to waste the remainder of the pot.

(FYI, we consider it OK to read Good Housekeeping if you’re “working at home”, which we are).

But back to the crème fraîche… what actually is it, actually?

Crème fraîche is an age old way of preserving buttermilk and cream before it goes off. It’s basically a question of combining the two ingredients and leaving it lying around for up to 24 hours.

It sounds gross, but thankfully when the buttermilk and cream combine at room temperature, bacteria in the milk produces lactic acids, which prevents any puke-causing microbes from setting up shop in there.

The liquid thickens up, and crème fraîche, with its tangy-yet-creamy flavour, is the result. Don’t forget to try a bit by itself so you know what it tastes like. Clue: it tastes lush.

So now you know what the heck crème fraîche is, here’s five simple ways to use that pot up before it creates a funny smell in the fridge.

1. Create delicious dips and dressings

creme-fraiche-dip-900Crème fraîche is designed for dipping – you can poke all kinds of foods into a pot of it and revel in its creamy, tangy flavour. Combine it with other ingredients for endless dip delights – we got good results from this simple stir-in recipe featuring spring onions, chilli sauce, lime juice and chives.

2. Add the luxe effect to sauces

A dollop of crème fraîche in a white wine or a tomato pasta sauce transforms it from a student dish to something that tastes as rich as Nescafé Gold Blend. It’s the perfect cream product for the job – its high fat content means it won’t curdle when cooked, so while it’s proper indulgent in waistline terms it makes sense to use it. Try it in an omelette or scrambled eggs, or add it to a carbonara sauce to really sex it up.

3. Take the edge off curries

Curry gets a separate entry on the list to sauces, because of crème fraîche’s mellowing effect on spices. Use it to thicken up curry sauces and also to tone down the burning effect of chillies. This Guardian reader’s recipe looks like a winner, and crème fraîche is also ideal stirred into mild curries like kormas and masalas at the last minute.

4. Eat it for pudding

Crème fraîche’s tangy yet creamy flavour is perfect for taking the edge off overly sweet desserts, and also ideal with fruit. Mix it with a dash of honey and serve it with fruity crumbles or sugary scones and cakes, or just use as a less sickly version of strawberries and cream. The good ‘ol Beeb has a range of crème fraîche-inspired desserts here.

5. Add to vegetables

Again, this is all about combining the slight sour tang of crème fraîche with the natural sweetness of other foods. For example, it goes brilliantly with roasted or sautéed carrots, and it’s also worth checking out the champignons a la crème recipe here. Or why not try it with potatoes – with plenty of fresh herbs and seasoning, crème fraîche could send a potato salad into overdrive.

Still looking for more ideas? The California Milk Advisory Board knows what it is talking about, as you might expect. Thanks Google!

* We served the Good Housekeeping casserole with this rustic mash recipe from thekitchn.com which represented the most salt we’ve ever put in anything ever and also the best mash this side of anywhere.

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