Sous Vide Crème Fraiche and Ricotta Cheese — Easy and Elegant Accompaniments
Add a little Joie de Vivre to your life and your culinary experience by preparing your own sophisticated and refined (not to mention stress-free) sous vide creme fraiche and ricotta — accompaniments that can be used in countless ways to enhance everything from dips to desserts.
Using dairy, such as whole milk or cream, and adding a bacteria-producing acid and a little heat allows you to create the most delectable and lush ingredients to be used alone or added to countless recipes.
Who hasn’t been leafing (or scrolling) through recipes and come across crème fraiche? Long used in France and in French cooking, it’s a relative newcomer to American chefs.
It’s best described as sour cream’s sophisticated French cousin adding a rich and tart depth of flavor that’s more versatile due to its 30%+ fat content (sour cream is closer to 18-20%).
Crème fraiche’s high-fat content makes it a perfect addition to soups and sauces where high heat might curdle sour cream.
You can find crème fraiche in specialty stores and most general grocery stores in the fancy
cheese section or sometimes in the dairy section but making your own is so much more
Try it on baguettes with smoked salmon and capers (or caviar) or as a dip for
crudite or served over fresh berries or grilled peaches for a light and delicious dessert.
Sous Vide Crème Fraiche
1 cup of pasteurized heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk, cultured (with active live
PRO TIP: It’s important to use pasteurized and
not ultra-pasteurized heavy cream for this recipe. The ultra-pasteurized version is prepared under very high heat and does not lend itself as a host to the cultures in the buttermilk that are needed to create creme fraiche.
This recipe has a long cook time, so it’s important to find a space that’s out of the way and has a surface that won’t be damaged by heat and moisture.
Once you’ve selected your container, attach your sous vide device and
start the sous vide water bath preheating to a temperature of 92 degrees. You will need a
deep container that, once filled, the water reaches to a mid-point on the circulator between the
Min and Max lines, which is usually about five to seven quarts. Stock pots and Dutch ovens work
perfectly, as do plastic sous vide containers that can be found online and in specialty kitchen
and restaurant shops.
As your water bath is coming to temperature, stir the heavy cream and buttermilk together in a
16-ounce canning or Mason jar being careful not to tighten the lid too much which might cause
it to crack under high heat. We don’t recommend using the jars with clip tops and rubber
gaskets for just this reason.
Once the jar has been carefully lowered into the water bath, cover the top of the container with
plastic wrap to reduce evaporation and cook for 12 hours, but not longer than 24 hours.
Remove the jar from the bath being cautious not to burn yourself and cool before putting into
the refrigerator to set for 18 to 24 hours. Give it a quick stir and you are ready to serve.
PRO TIP: Save a few ounces of the finished crème fraiche to act as a “starter” when
added to more heavy cream for another batch and substitute that into the recipe
omitting the buttermilk.
Keep tightly sealed and you can store the crème fraiche in your refrigerator for up to three
weeks, but we doubt it will last that long once you and your family catch on to its incredible
diversity! And don’t forget to try it with a simple baked potato and maybe some chopped
chives sprinkled on top!
Now that you’ve perfected the ideal crème fraiche, let’s travel further east to Italy and try some
homemade Ricotta Cheese, long a staple of Italian cooking. Who hasn’t had a delightful
mouthwatering piece of lasagna oozing with this luscious, gooey goodness! It’s the stuff of
dreams…..and so simple to make with your sous vide device.
Sous Vide Ricotta Cheese
8 cups whole milk
5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Prepare your sous vide water bath using 7 quarts of water in your preferred container and preheat to 190 degrees. Combine the ingredients in a 1-gallon freezer bag and slowly submerge in the water allowing the air to escape before sealing the bag and attaching to the side of the container.
Cook the mixture for 30 to 40 minutes or until the milk mixture has separated into curds (semi-solid cheese) and whey (a milky mixture). Remove from the sous vide and cool for 10 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled a bit, place in a colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth and allow the whey liquid to drain through.
In a pinch, you can line the bottom of the colander with several layers of coffee filters fanned out across the bottom which works just as effectively. After about 30 minutes, you should have most of the whey drained, but with the remaining curds still moist.
Gently transfer the cheese to a bowl, stir to incorporate the remaining liquid and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two to chill. This ricotta will last up to five days in a tightly sealed container and may need to be stirred before use.
PRO TIP: The whey has milk solids and can be captured and used for baking or cooking.
Some Ideas for Serving or Cooking with Ricotta Cheese….
• Simply drizzle with a finishing olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper and serve with
• Serve over grilled fruit, like peaches, and drizzle with honey and/or balsamic vinegar
glaze or both
• Spread on crostini and top with fig jam and crushed pistachios
• Stir in some chocolate sauce and a touch of vanilla for a tasty dessert
• Top toast with ricotta and pesto drizzled with olive oil and tomatoes or try it with sliced
• Add to scrambled eggs or an omelet with diced chives
• Stuff manicotti shells with a mixture of ricotta and spinach leaves and top with marinara
• Perfect for a decadent cheesecake
And don’t forget the lasagna!