The Fugue Counterpoint by Hans Fugal



Joe Pastry's post on Crema Fresca got me curious. He says,

In fact crema fresca is closer to crème fraîche than sour cream. Its fat
content is usually a bit higher, about 25% compared to sour cream which
clocks in around 20%. Both are still lightweights compared to crème fraîche,
though, which weighs in at a chubby 35-48%.

Well if that's true, then why is sour cream thicker than crema fresca? Or are
we not talking about the same thing. Maybe it's related to what happens in
yogurt. The next time I ended up at the grocery store I was armed with pen and

Product Fat / Serving Fat Content
Buttermilk (1%) 3g / 240ml 1%
Whole Milk 8g / 240ml 3%
Half and Half 3g / 30ml 10%
Crema Mexicana ("Mexican Table Cream") 2.5g / 15ml 17%
Sour Cream 5g / 30g 17%
Crema Mexicana Agria ("Mexican Sour Cream") 8g / 30g 27%
Whipping Cream 6g / 15ml 30%
Heavy Whipping Cream 6g / 15ml 40%

I used the rule of thumb that 1ml = 1g. (A pint's a pound the world around
except in England and where people don't use pints or pounds, which is pretty
much everywhere but the USA) Though it's technically not true it's precise
enough for the level of accuracy we need (rounded to the nearest percent). (See
this fact sheet
for more about density of dairy.)

I should note that none of the Mexican cream products in my grocery were
labeled as crema fresca, though that's what I was referring to when I asked
Joe about crema fresca. I don't remember where I picked up the term, or whether
it's entirely accurate. Apparently Joe is thinking about the Agria kind, which
does indeed have more fat than sour cream. Or maybe this brand's table cream is
particularly lean. Anyway, the Crema Mexicana in my grocery is on par with sour
cream for fat content, but it's pourable and not nearly as thick as sour cream.
I imagine we have some kind of yogurt effect going on in the sour cream. I
don't know whether the agria stuff is less pourable, but I suspect it is just
as pourable since it comes in a tall narrow container.

To make crema fresca, based on these numbers, I'd go for 1
cup whole milk and 1/2 cup cream (heavy or light, depending on your level of
decadence), and a tablespoon of sour cream or buttermilk to inoculate.

I can only take his word for the fat content of crème fraîche, as I have never
seen or tasted it.

If you like sour cream on your rice and beans (or burritos or chimichangas or …) then you'll like crema fresca even better. Give it a try!