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I started making crème fraiche and when adding the buttermilk, the buttermilk had started to clot. I didn't know this before adding it to the cream. Am I still able to make the crème fraiche with this buttermilk?

2 Answers 2

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Chances are the "clots" are harmless. Give the buttermilk a sniff and a (small) taste. Does it seem OK? If so, the curdling probably just means that the cultures are still healthy and doing their job.

Whisk it in, and stay the course. Your crème fraiche should be fine.

Of course if the buttermilk smells or tastes spoiled, throw it out.

Buttermilk (and to a lesser degree, dairy in general) is kind of unique in the food safety world in that the sniff test is 99.9% accurate. If it smells OK and tastes OK, it almost certainly is OK.

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Buttermilk doesn't necessarily lead to crème fraiche when added to cream, there needs to be an active culture which currently exists in the buttermilk for this to be the case.

If you want to make crème fraiche, one of your best bets is to add a plain yogurt you like to the cream. If you leave the cream out with the yogurt mixed in, it will culture and ferment. After about 4 to 10 hours, it should be ready (depending on starting temperature).

The longer you leave it out, the more sour it will become. You can choose according to your preferences. At room temperature it will still be a bit runny, once it cools it will set more.

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  • If you add any plain yogurt to the cream, you still won't necessarily get creme fraiche. First, many yogurts don't have a live culture. Second, the ones which have, can have the wrong culture. Creme fraiche is made with mesophilic cultures, if you happen to get a yogurt with a different culture, you will end up with schmand or something else. Basically, by using yogurt instead of buttermilk, you haven't won anything if your goal is to have a higher chance of getting real creme fraiche.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 3, 2015 at 8:34
  • Most of the time I've noticed people leave the buttermilk outside in order to get a live culture in it, but that would also not necessarily yield the correct culture either. The point of using yogurt is to simply increase the chance that you do get a live culture that isn't harmful. Also, by not heating the mixture, you're sort of making it into a better environment for mesophilic cultures (if they are present), since they'll probably out compete thermophilic cultures. I just suggested yogurt since, short of buying a culture, there is no sure fire way to get such a consistent product.
    – Ron
    Mar 3, 2015 at 14:30

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