So what are mascarpone, creme fraiche & ricotta?

The low down on cream cheeses & creams


Ever picked up mascarpone, sour cream, crème fraiche, or  ricotta and wondered what they are and what the difference is?


Soured cream

is single cream (35% Fat or lower) that has been given a sharp, sour edge by adding a bacterial culture and then incubated for a period


Crème Fraiche

Originates from France and is similarly cultured but made from cream with a higher fat content and is richer and thicker with a more subtle “Zing” rather than a distinct sourness.



Is the Italian version of crème fraiche, still soured by a lactic culture but is milder sweeter and more dense. They all have a delightful, piquant edge and are perfect for partnering dense chocolate cakes, fresh fruit and berries, and in a host of savoury applications including sauces. A sample composition for mascarpone cheese would be 50% fat, 3% protein and 5% carbohydrate.



Is a type of whey cheese, developed in Italy but manufactured and sold all over the world. Ricotta is a very flexible and delicious dairy product, used in lasagne, cannelloni, and many other delicious dishes which require the use of a soft, mild cheese product. Ricotta is also highly nutritious eaten plain, although somewhat bland in flavour. Ricotta has become very popular, and is usually a relatively low fat product, making it ideal for dieters.



Is a type of fresh cheese? Dictionaries usually translate it as curd cheese or cottage cheese, although most commercial varieties of cottage cheese are made with rennet, whereas traditional quark is not. It is soft, white and un-aged, similar to some types of fromage frais. It is distinct from ricotta because ricotta (Italian: recooked) is made from scalded whey. Quark usually has much lower fat content (about the same as yoghurt) than cream cheeses and has no salt added.


Crème fraiche

Is a delicious, thinner form of sour cream. Crème fraiche can be used as a topping, in sauces, or in a variety of other applications, and many prefer it to sour cream because of its creamy texture. One of the advantages of crème fraiche is that it doesn’t “break” or become unstable when added to sauces. This is due to its high fat content.