Are you on a dairy-free diet? Or maybe just trying to cut back on your dairy consumption?
Amigos, this recipe is for you! Actually if you just love trying new foods then you too will enjoy this recipe.
Crema fresca is Mexico’s equivalent of France’s crème fraîche and Eastern Europe’s smetana. All are a types of “sour” cream but without the tartness of American-style sour cream. In a pinch you could interchange them, but if you’re looking for that extra tartness of the American version you won’t find it as strong, and so the American kind may not suit all recipes.
(If you don’t see the video right below this text, view it on our YouTube channel by clicking here.)
🔴 ESPAÑOL 🔴 Por favor visita nuestro canal de YouTube para ver el video en español. Haz clic aquí.
In Mexico we use thin crema to drizzle over our food as a topping and we occasionally cook with thicker ones too — actually, we also make desserts with it. If you’ve ever been in a Mexican food store chances are you’ve seen crema Mexicana, crema fresca and crema agria. I did a little research to get a clear understanding and honestly I was left more confused than before. But here’s what I (think) understood, the difference between them lies in the way they are produced, and the level of tartness they each have. Just crema Mexicana and fresca tend to be on the milder more neutral taste but still have a tartness to them, and as for the agria it’s more like American sour cream.
My husband and I still eat dairy since going pescetarian, but I try to limit our dairy consumption and when possible use alternatives — though they have to be unprocessed and not filled with preservatives. Last year I searched and searched for homemade crema recipes. I tested and tweaked and tested and tweaked again and again before coming up with this version that I love and think makes a perfect substitute for dairy-based sour cream. So far I’ve only used it as an accompaniment and have yet to cook it into any dishes, though I have some recipe testing in my near future and will definitely share the results with you.
The recipe is quite simple, but I urge you to watch the guided video and read through the recipe and notes before testing it out yourselves. There are a few important tips that will help your first vegan crema be a smashing success!
- ¼ cup or 52 grams of blanched & soaked almonds*
- 1 cup or 236 ml warm water
- 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
- freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
- Soak the almonds for a couple of hours or until they plump up and become softer, drain before using. Place all the almonds and only half of the water into the blender and blend for a couple of minutes.
- Add all the cornstarch, a little bit (like a pinch) of salt, the other half of the water and blend until completely smooth -- the time will depend on the power of your blender. If you're blender isn't too powerful you may want to pass the liquid through a fine sieve to catch any bits and prevent a grainy crema.
- Over medium heat cook the mixture until it thickens. This will take about 10 minutes. It's very important that you keep stirring the whole time to prevent it burning or bubbling over. As it cooks you'll notice that little by little the cream begins to form as the mixture thickens. You'll know that the crema is ready when it has a thick creamy consistency. When ready, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes while you keep stirring it.
- At this time if you want a more neutral tasting crema you can simply leave as is and cool completely before storing. For a more tart cream continue with the next step.
- Once allowed to cool slightly, little by little add freshly squeezed lime juice and salt to the cream. Stir until well combined, allow to sit a couple of minutes, then taste and if needed add a bit more lime juice and/or salt until you get the tartness you're happy with.
- Pour into a container and if serving it right away allow to cool a bit more, otherwise store in the fridge covered for up to 4 days. Enjoy it over all of your favourite Mexican dishes, or as desired.
Longer soaking time will only be required if your blender isn't too powerful, otherwise the almonds may not breakdown enough and you'll have to strain the liquid through a fine sieve before cooking. So to soak the almonds, after blanching cover in room temperature water and all to soak for a couple of hours or until soft.
The result is a creamy, thick texture that spreads on smoothly. The taste, well it’s insane how much like regular dairy this crema tastes. It doesn’t have a strong almond or almond milk taste. This crema makes the best non-dairy sour cream substitute I have tasted thus far!
Thank you amigos for stopping by, I really hope you give this crema a try sometime. Have a beautiful day!!