Crème fraîche is a pasteurized cream made from cow milk. It can be thick or liquid, of whipping consistency (30% fat) or light (15% fat). Sterilized (UHT) creams do not qualify as crème fraîche.
By law, the different varieties of crème fraîche must be sold in the fresh food section of supermarkets. It is available in different sizes. Choose the texture of crème fraîche (liquid or thickened), depending on what you are going to do with it. Liquids with 30 percent fat offer a more rounded mouthfeel and can be used to make whipped cream. If you’re watching your weight, look for low-fat crème fraîche. French dairy producers sell raw crème fraîche (unpasteurized and unsterilized), which is more flavorful.
Crème fraîche withstands cooking very well. Thickened versions melt in the pan and can be made into creamy sauces to accompany pan-fried chicken, for example. Soups become velvety when a tablespoon of either liquid or thickened crème fraîche is added.
Thickened crème fraîche are particularly suitable for dips to accompany crudités as a snack. Only liquid crème fraîche with 30 percent fat can be whipped to make Chantilly cream. Low-fat crème fraîche is not suitable for whipping.
Pasteurized crème fraîche can keep up to ten days in the refrigerator. Once the tub or bottle is opened, it should be used up within two or three days.