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Vail Valley: Gourmet ingredients without a gourmet price

Wren Wertin
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Thanksgiving is near in Colorado’s Vail Valley, and if you’ve spent any time looking at cooking magazines you’ve invariably noticed grocery lists full of items you don’t normally buy. Wild mushrooms, creme fraiche, tiny birds like game hens and squab – seriously? Some things we just can’t get in a little mountain town; others we can make on our own.

Dear Wren,

Can you buy creme fraiche already prepared?



Caramie Schnell

Dear Caramie,



The short answer is yes. But I have a question as well: Why would you want to? Creme fraiche is available in our local supermarkets, usually with the fancy cheese. It comes in a little tub, and looks simple and chic. It’s good in a pinch, but I find it unnecessarily spendy.

Creme fraiche is basically thickened cream with a bit of tang and nuttiness. In France it’s made from unpasteurized cream, and the cream’s natural bacteria is what thickens it up. Here in the U.S., unpasteurized cream isn’t available unless you’ve got a cow connection. But no worries, you can still make your own.

In a glass or ceramic bowl combine 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Cover with a towel and let it sit for at least 8 hours and as long as 24 hours. Then put in an airtight container and stick it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Voila – you’ve got creme fraiche.



Wren


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